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The Office of the Prisoner Ombudsman investigates:

• Complaints from prisoners that are or were held in Northern Ireland
• Complaints from Visitors to prisoners held in Northern Ireland
• Deaths in Prison Service custody in Northern Ireland

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The Prisoner Ombudsman is appointed by the Minister of Justice for Northern Ireland and is completely independent of the Northern Ireland Prison Service. The post has been vacant since the retirement of the previous Ombudsman on 31 August 2017, however the work of the Office continues. A successor will be announced following the appointment of a Justice Minister.

In the interim, the Chief Inspector of Criminal Justice Inspection Northern Ireland, Mr Brendan McGuigan CBE oversees the work of the Prisoner Ombudsman’s Office.

Prisoner Complaints

The Prisoner Ombudsman investigates complaints from prisoners that are held in Northern Ireland who remain unhappy with how their complaint has been responded to by the Prison Service. In certain circumstances, a complaint by those released can also be investigated by the Prisoner Ombudsman.

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Visitor Complaints

Since February 2010, visitors to prisoners in Northern Ireland have been able to refer their complaints or concerns to the Prisoner Ombudsman, if they have been unable to resolve the complaint or concern through the local Visits Manager of the Prison Service.

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Death in Custody Investigations

The Prisoner Ombudsman investigates all deaths in Prison Service custody in Northern Ireland. In addition, the Ombudsman has discretion to investigate incidents of serious self-harm or deaths which occur after the individual was released from custody, to examine if any factors related to their time in custody may have contributed to their self-harm or death.

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Advice

The Prisoner Ombudsman may also be able to advise how a problem may be resolved or a concern addressed. Simply contact the office and any of our staff will assist.

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