Prisoner Ombudsman Annual Report Launch 2008/2009

Published on August 11 2009

Pauline McCabe, Prisoner Ombudsman, has today launched her first Annual Report for 2008/2009.

Pauline McCabe outlines in the report how, since taking up the post on 1st September 2008, she has focussed on three things:

improving the efficiency and professionalism of our operations
enhancing accessibility for prisoners
developing confidence in the ability of the office to deliver independent and impartial investigations.
Detailed in the Report are significant changes made during the year, demonstrating the impact these have had on the number of complaints received by the Office. During 2008/2009, the office received 337 complaints against a forecasted 139, and 165 advice calls.

“An effective complaints system has a crucial role to pay in managing frustrations and encouraging acceptable behaviour, by giving prisoners an appropriate model for resolving difficulties and problems.”

Pauline McCabe’s first annual report also highlights how the lack of statutory footing undermines confidence in the Prisoner Ombudsman and how she hopes this will be addressed soon after devolution of Policing and Criminal Justice.

“Devolution of Policing and Justice will also present many challenges, not least because of competing funding demands. The cost of keeping prisoners in prison in Northern Ireland is much greater than in the rest of the UK and there will undoubtedly be pressures to reduce costs. If, however, there is a desire to move away from a primarily security-focussed Prison Service to one where the emphasis is on education, training, health, particularly mental health and addiction services, vocational training, work experience, resettlement services, and so on, with a view to reducing re-offending rates, there will be a need for a strategic approach.”

“It is worth noting that a 10% reduction in reoffending rates would release £1.2billion.”

Further enquires to: Gemma Brown, telephone number (028) 90 443992.