Prison Service needs to change says Alliance

Alliance Party Justice Spokesperson, Stephen Farry MLA, has responded to the report of the Prison Ombudsman into the death in custody of Colin Bell by stressing the need for wider institutional and cultural changes within the Northern Ireland Prison Service.

Stephen Farry MLA said: “This is a very disturbing report, with far-reaching implications. It is simply incredible that such an incident could occur within a secure facility.

“The report poses major questions for the prison service. The critical analysis of this report goes beyond the failings of individual prison officers and points to wider institutional and cultural problems.

“During ‘the Troubles’ a security-based posture within our prisons was inevitable. In a normalised society, a greater emphasis must be placed not only on protecting the public from dangerous offenders, but greater emphasis on the welfare and rehabilitation of inmates, including a rebalancing of resources. Incidence of mental health and personality disorder among prisoners is much higher than in the general population.

“This report must now serve as an impetus to support reformist elements within the prison service.”


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