23/02/2009

Prison Suicide Report Gets Assembly Discussion

Sinn Féin MLA's Raymond McCartney and Martina Anderson will present a motion at the Stormont Assembly today calling for the full implementations of the recommendations of the report made by the Prison Ombudsman into the death of prisoner Colin Bell in Maghaberry Prison.

Mr McCartney said: "This report from the Prison Ombudsman came about following the tragic death of Colin Bell in Maghaberry Prison.

"The findings highlighted misconduct and failure to do the duty that prison staff and their bosses are charged with.

"The series of events that failed Colin Bell, and continue to fail other prisoners, is a glaring example of how we need to push forward on this issue and deliver basic human rights within our prisons," he said.

"Sinn Féin have been raising the issue of self-harm and suicide for may years yet the Prison Service and the NIO have been extremely slow to act.

"The purpose of the motion that we have brought forward is to place the relevant pressure on the NIO and the Prison Service to ensure that the far reaching recommendations are acted upon.

"We are very sensitive to the hurt caused to the Bell family and would like to ensure that no other family will have to endure the suffering and the searching for answers that the Bell family have had to go through," he said.

NI Prison Ombudsman Pauline McCabe has made a total of 44 recommendations following the death of Colin Bell last August, including scrutiny of the roles of Governor Alan Longwell and his deputy, Steve Davis.

Colin Bell, who was serving a life sentence for murder, hanged himself at the fourth attempt while staff who were supposed to be monitoring him slept.

The 34-year-old was on critical suicide watch and was supposed to be monitored every 15 minutes, but staff failed to do so.

See: Prison Suicide Shock As Warders Slept Or Drank Tea

(BMcC/JM)

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