CJI publishes findings of re-inspection of Maghaberry Prison
CJI's Chief Inspector Brendan McGuigan has revealed Maghaberry Prison has stabilised seven months after the prison was found to be unsafe and unstable. Mr McGuigan welcomed the action taken by the Northern Ireland Prison Service to start addressing the serious concerns raised in May 2015 but warned progress was 'fragile' and a 'significant amount of work remained outstanding. View report page
The Chief Inspector commended the steps taken to strengthen leadership at the high security prison and developments which have led to prison staff supervising some association areas and exercise yards within Maghaberry.
"This work is both encouraging and beneficial but we do not underestimate the scale of the challenge involved in transforming Maghaberry. Historically, we have found it to be a prison which has struggled to adapt to the requirements of a 21st Century prison establishment and one where the legacy of the past, has been a major impediment to its progress in providing safe, decent and rehabilitative outcomes for the men held there," said Mr McGuigan.
"More prisoners were now attending activities and achievements were increasing. A new 'core day' had been introduced which was enabling prisoners in full-time work to achieve over nine hours out of cell," he said.
Concerns however about the high levels of violence and the problems surrounding the availability of illicit drugs together with the diversion of prescription medication within the prison remain. Inspectors also found mental health provision had regressed as a result of staff shortages since the last Inspection but that the South Eastern Trust was prioritising this issue.
As an indication of the multi-disciplinary Inspection team's commitment to managing the risks identified in their last inspection report, Mr McGuigan said over the next 18 months they would be supporting the prison governors at Maghaberry, to oversee the delivery of the nine inspection recommendations made in November 2015, through a series of announced, low-impact visits to the prison.
"We have taken this step to ensure the early momentum found at Maghaberry last month is not lost, and the progress made to date is strengthened so that the Northern Ireland Prison Service does not allow Maghaberry to regress," concluded Mr McGuigan.