IPRT - Irish Penal Reform Trust

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NI: Follow-up report on 'The Treatment of Vulnerable Prisoners by the Northern Ireland Prison Service'

6th February 2012

A follow-up report from the Criminal Justice Inspection in Northern Ireland (CJI) has found that while there has been progress in the treatment of vulnerable prisoners, changes in the attitude and behaviours of the Northern Ireland Prison Service (NIPS) are still required. CJI’s original report in 2009 was released after safety concerns were raised following an unannounced joint inspection of Maghaberry Prison by CJI and Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons, and after an investigation into the death of a vulnerable prisoner named Colin Bell in 2008.

The 2012 report evaluates the response of NIPS to recommendations for increasing the safety of vulnerable prisoners. The chief inspector of CJI, Dr. Michael Maguire, noted progress from the implementation of a new programme “Supporting Prisoners at Risk”, which monitors and manages vulnerable prisoners. Additionally, Maghaberry Prison has opened the Donard Centre, which provides a therapeutic daytime regime for the most vulnerable prisoners. Dr. Maguire added that the Strategic Efficiency and Effectiveness (SEE) program of the Northern Ireland Prison Service is aiming to change the “culture and skills” of the prison staff, and has seen some measurable results since the 2009 report in increasing prisoner safety.

However, the report also finds that the attitudes of staff were still inconsistent with a therapeutic approach to their patients’ healthcare. CJI identifies several areas for improvement, such as inadequate prison governance, excessive lock-up time, and no effective anti-violence strategy.

Click here to read the full report.

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