Prisoner Ombudsman and Probation Board sign joint protocol

Published on May 15 2009

The Prisoner Ombudsman for Northern Ireland and the Probation Board for Northern Ireland (PBNI) have today signed a joint protocol for handling complaints from prisoners in relation to probation matters.

This protocol will give the Prisoner Ombudsman the authority to investigate eligible complaints by prisoners about issues that are the responsibility of the Probation Board.

The Prisoner Ombudsman for Northern Ireland, Pauline McCabe, said: “The protocol sets out a clear statement of principles in relation to the circumstances in which the Prisoner Ombudsman can investigate complaints by prisoners and former prisoners about issues that are the responsibility of the Probation Board for Northern Ireland. It is very much to the credit of the Probation Board that they are taking the initiative to invite my office to undertake this role. We both anticipate that this will contribute positively to the operation of probation services within the prison context.”

Signing the Protocol, Brian McCaughey, Director of PBNI, said: “This is a welcome development for PBNI and signifies our willingness to embrace independent scrutiny of probation practice in prisons. Openness and transparency are central to our dealings with offenders. The Prisoner Ombudsman’s involvement will commence in the event of PBNI’s complaints procedures completing without satisfaction to a complainant.”

The working of this protocol will be monitored on an ongoing basis throughout the 12 month pilot period, commencing on 1 June 2009, and will be formally reviewed by both parties at the end of the pilot.

For further media enquiries please contact Declan Mellan, Prisoner Ombudsman’s office on 02890 443992 or Lisa Maginnis, PBNI on 02890 262462.

Notes to Editors

The Prisoner Ombudsman will only consider a complaint as eligible after it has been through the internal Probation Board complaints mechanism. In this respect the Probation Board’s normal complaints channels will continue to apply.