Pearson Review 6 month report - Statement by the Prisoner Ombudsman, Pauline McCabe

Published on March 25 2010

The Prisoner Ombudsman Pauline McCabe has noted the 6-Month Audit Report of the Pearson review following the death in custody of Colin Bell on 1st August 2008.

She said, “Many staff in the Northern Ireland Prison Service, the South Eastern Health Trust and in other support services and groups are working tirelessly to deliver a fit-for-purpose service. However there are also many obstacles in the way of progress and what is needed is robust leadership with a strong emphasis on organisational and cultural change.

“We recognise the commitment and efforts of the present acting Governor to continue the change programme started by former Governor Steve Rodford. Pearson recommended a Governor from outside the Northern Ireland Prison Service because of the fresh thinking and different experiences they would bring. We welcome the fact that Pearson does not accept that the departure of Governor Rodford changes the argument for new blood.

“Pearson rightly recognises that there are high expectations and limited resources but we support the report’s call for effective delivery of priorities. In this context the need for prisoner regimes and daily routines to be invigorated and the streamlining of physical security are of fundamental importance and must be treated as a key priority.

“It is vital to support all of those who are working so hard to take the prison agenda forward in a way that is positive and purposeful.

“Our investigations of deaths in prison custody, such as that of Colin Bell, have made substantive recommendations so that such tragic events can be prevented in future. The need for a joined up strategic approach to implementing these changes cannot be exaggerated.”