A follow-up inspection of Northern Ireland Prison Service mistaken prisoner releases

Publication: 03/04/12
Significant effort by NIPS but disappointment at overall pace of change

WHILE there has been significant effort by the Northern Ireland Prison Service (NIPS) the Criminal Justice Inspection is disappointed at the overall pace of change.
 
This is the conclusion of the Criminal Justice Inspection Northern Ireland in a follow-up to a report published in November 2010 into mistaken prisoner releases. There has been a further four erroneous releases since the initial report.

“Encouraging work has taken place where additional focus and resources have been applied. For example, the NIPS has expended significant effort and finance to IT solutions. This is in addition to linking the issue of erroneous releases to the Strategic Effectiveness and Efficiency (SEE) Programme,” said Dr Michael Maguire, chief inspector Criminal Justice Inspection. “However work has been focused on longer term process re-engineering and fundamentally neglected the immediacy of the ongoing risks.”
 
Of the 25 NIPS recommendations in the follow up report, 14 (56%) can now be said to be met in full. A further 10 (40%) can be said to be partly completed and one (4%) as discharged (no longer relevant).
 
“Well over one-third of the recommendations made have not been met in full some 15 months after the first report. For example, it is disappointing that formal training for front line staff has still not been delivered, with the most notable for Duty Governors who are expected to authorise final release.
 
“There is also a need for job guidance and a continued focus on the full implementation of existing controls by way of supervision and quality checks. Compliance and quality assurance with robust mechanisms must be sustained.
 
“Both the operational and strategic focus needs to be maintained on the issues, and ultimately, the accelerated completion of all the outstanding recommendations.”

View follow-up report