Inspectors report on care and treatment of prisoners in Care and Supervision Units


An independent Review of Care and Supervision Units (CSUs) in Northern Ireland’s prisons urges improvements to meet United Nations Standard Minimum Rules (known as the Mandela Rules) and Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons Expectations, to provide assurance and deliver better prisoner outcomes.

“This in-depth review undertaken by CJI and Inspectors from the Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority and the Education and Training Inspectorate following a request by the Minister of Justice, found evidence that the regime experienced by some CSU prisoners did not meet the UN Standard Minimum Rules, known as the Mandela Rules and amounted to solitary confinement,” said CJI Chief Inspector Jacqui Durkin. 

“Prisoners are segregated in CSUs for many reasons and some of them are the most vulnerable, challenging and complex people in our prisons. Regardless of why they were there, prisoners were experiencing much the same regime and some were spending too long in their cell without meaningful human contact.”

Inspectors found opportunities for prisoners held in the CSUs to participate in purposeful activity, including learning and skills and physical activity, were not proactively encouraged. Inaccurate, inadequate and disjointed record keeping were identified as barriers to providing evidence of individual care plans and time out of cell, effective oversight and appropriate assurance.

“During our work Inspectors met impressive and committed Prison Officers and health care staff in CSUs who demonstrated compassion for the prisoners and patients in their care while facing complex challenges every day and I commend them all for their efforts,” she continued.

However, The Inspection Team identified a clear need for Prison Officers to be supported with appropriate staff selection procedures and training to improve prisoner outcomes.  Better access to care and treatment for prisoners with severe mental disorders and incorporating the prison population in planning future service provision were also highlighted.  

Inspectors have made three strategic and 11 operational recommendations to deliver improvements in oversight and operational prison practice, record keeping, health care provision, education and training opportunities and outcomes for prisoners.  All have been accepted.

“I will be maintaining a focus on the issues identified in this review report when we follow-up on the implementation of the recommendations as part of future prison inspections we undertake with our Inspection partners,” concluded Ms Durkin.