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Northern Ireland's prison policy

11th November 2010

The Committee on the Administration of Justice in Northern Ireland has launched an attack on the present direction of the government's prison policy.

Over the last eight years there has been a staggering 40 reports made on the Northern Irish prison system containing over 1200 individual recommendations. Although a large percentage of these have been taken on board and implemented there still exists a mass of unexecuted proposals, leading to what is now seen by many as a prison system in crisis

The Committee on the Administration of Justice holds the belief that the current approach adopted by the government in relation to these unfulfilled recommendations will only ensure that considerable deficiencies in the service, regarding basic human rights, remain.

Their major contention is that action is being taken at a piecemeal pace. Entire issues are either being ignored or are being redressed at painstakingly slow pace, one by one. Instead the government should be looking at comprehensive and systematic changes that look at the root causes of all the individual problems.

At present the Northern Irish prison system doesn’t reach international benchmarks and will not do so as long as the government dives into resolving specific problems without a widespread penal policy, which has been based on an overarching appraisal of current policies and practices. 

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