Chief Inspectors call for urgent action to improve performance at Maghaberry Prison

The Chief Inspector of Criminal Justice in Northern Ireland and Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Prisons in England and Wales have called for urgent action to be taken to improve performance at Maghaberry Prison.  Dr Michael Maguire and Dame Anne Owers made the call today as the findings of an unannounced inspection of Northern Ireland’s high security prison were published.  View report. View press release.

The Chief Inspectors said the inspection had found Maghaberry was not performing sufficiently well in any of the four key inspection areas it was assessed against.  They have called for a clear development plan for improvement to be put in place alongside a commitment from management within the Northern Ireland Prison Service to challenge the existing status quo and make change happen.
Speaking at a press conference held in Belfast this morning Dr Maguire and Dame Anne said: “Maghaberry has been found to be a prison with serious operational difficulties that will require a concerted effort to change. Our overall conclusion is that the current position cannot continue and there remains significant room for improvement.  A clear development plan for improvement is required alongside a demonstrable management commitment to challenge the status quo and make change happen.
“If this commitment however does exist this inspection report can provide a firm basis upon which future successful operation can be built,” they said.
The Chief Inspectors stressed it was not the intention of the Inspectorates to undermine staff morale or good practice which does exist at Maghaberry, but the reality was the prison has been found to be significantly under performing in relation to what is expected of a effective UK prison in the 21st Century at the time the inspection was carried out in January 2009.