Prisoner Ombudsman for Northern Ireland publishes Annual Report

Published on July 02 2014

The Prisoner Ombudsman for Northern Ireland, Tom McGonigle, today published his Annual Report for 2013-14.

The role of the Prisoner Ombudsman is to investigate and report on prisoners’ complaints and deaths in custody. 

During 2013-14 the Ombudsman commenced investigations into 450 new complaints, four deaths in custody and three post-release deaths.  80% of the complaints came from Maghaberry Prison. 
There was an 11% increase in complaints since last year; and the investigations ranged from minor matters to multiple thematic complaints.  Property & cash, visits, staff attitudes, and accommodation accounted for most (40%) of the complaints that reached the Ombudsman.

Mr McGonigle said “46% of prisoners’ complaints were upheld. We made 323 recommendations for improvement, and 90% of these were accepted by the Northern Ireland Prison Service.” 

“Throughout the year we heard of several situations where prisoners almost died in each prison, but were saved by prompt and effective staff intervention.  We made 99 recommendations for improvement in relation to the care of prisoners.”

He added “We continued to support the prison reform process, working with the Prison Service, South Eastern Health & Social Care Trust and Department of Justice (DOJ) to identify and implement changes that can improve prisoners’ quality of life, and thereby help reduce tensions in the prisons.”

The Prisoner Ombudsman concluded by commenting on the significance of plans to place his office on a statutory footing which is expected to be achieved by 2015. 

Notes to Editors
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