25/02/2005

Murphy announces first ever Prisoner Ombudsman

Secretary of State Paul Murphy today announced the appointment of Northern Ireland’s first Prisoner Ombudsman.

Brian Coulter's appointment comes after former prisons controller John Steele recommended an ombudsman should be established when he conducted a review of staff and prisoner safety in Maghaberry in 2003.

Mr Murphy said Mr Coulter came to the post with an “outstanding track record and considerable knowledge of complaints systems and related issues including senior professional experience of investigation, regulatory work and the management and monitoring of performance”.

He said: “John Steele recommended consideration of an independent prisoner ombudsman when he conducted his review of staff and prisoner safety in Maghaberry during 2003.

“I hope that all those involved in the welfare of prisoners recognise this appointment as a major step forward that will provide added assurance about the treatment of prisoners and provides prison staff with added protection against vexatious complaints."

Mr Coulter is the chief executive of the Fold Housing Association.

(MB/SP)

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