Prisoner complaints increase by 11%

Published Wednesday, 02 July 2014
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The number of complaints made by prisoners in Northern Ireland increased by 11% in the last year, according to a Prisoner Ombudsman report.

Prisoner complaints increase by 11%
The majority of complaints were made by prisoners at Maghaberry. (© UTV)

The findings were published in the Prisoner Ombudsman for Northern Ireland, Tom McGonigle's annual report for 2013-2014.

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

During the year, the Ombudsman commenced investigations into 450 new complaints, four deaths in custody and three post-release deaths.

The majority of complaints - 80%- came from Maghaberry Prison.

Investigations were made into issues ranging from minor matters to multiple thematic complaints.

Property and cash, visits, staff attitudes and accommodation accounted for most - 40% - of the complaints that reached the Ombudsman.

A total of 204 individual prisoners made the 450 eligible complaints.

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," he said.

"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.

© UTV News
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16 Comments
OldSod in Fermanagh wrote (79 days ago):
Let me get this straight,... people who by definition are dishonest and or violent, with no respect for others and generally self destructive tendencies, are complaining about their treatment in prison.... a place where they are safer, better fed and cared for than when at liberty,....well its not like these people would lie about anything,... I mean, what possible motive could they have? I have a better idea,... some kind of penal colony in Antarctica maybe? I recall a time when human rights were a noble concept, intended to prevent repeats of some of the darker parts of our history,.. genocide, oppression etc,.... not some kind of legal aid gravy train like today.
Fedup in Belfast wrote (81 days ago):
It costs over £2000 a month to have someone reside in a nursing home, that is paid for my family or from the persons own money. Yet we give prisoners who have broken the law, free board & lodgings, access to healthcare and dental care! I agree everyone who is being mistreated deserves to complain but some of the complaints are ridiculous. We treat our prisoners better than are elderly! Now whos human rites are being violated?
Robbie in Portadown wrote (81 days ago):
well I do believe that if ya can't do the time dont do the crime but ive been in this jail, now im a loyalist but Im also gay and when I was there my letters were being tampered with and even during visits I was not allowed to get close to my man/partner or we would get funny looks from the prison officers on duty and my complaints ended up in the bin (I was told) I thought human rights were for all thats what I and my good friends fought for!
5* hotel!! in Bangor wrote (81 days ago):
I agree with others who say if you can't do the time, don't do the crime. Prison should be punishment for committing a crime not a cushy number like it is! They have luxuries that some people outside of prison can't even afford - eg tv - gym - regular meals and god knows what else. As for human rights! - they should forfeit all rights when they are sent to prison. They didn't give any consideration to the rights of their victims! Time things changed in our prisons to make them a deterrent!
Denise in Ballymena wrote (81 days ago):
ahshucks in Banbridge, while you redeem yourself a little in the rest of your comment, your opening sentence 'All have a right to complain when human rights have been abused.' So what, these people didn't, at the very least, abuse the rights of their victims, at worst took their lives, never mind their human rights. Totally ridiculous, HOW?? WHY?? should they have any rights?
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