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Report on Women Prisoners – Sinn Féin reiterates call for separate Women’s Prison

12 June, 2008

Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Women, West Belfast MLA Jennifer McCann has said that while the Chief Inspector of Prisons and the Criminal Justice Inspection report published today highlights progress made since their last inspection in November 2004, that there was still a need for progress on delivering a separate women prison and more resources to be put into women's mental health while in prison.

Ms McCann said:

"While the report from the Chief Inspector of Prisons and the Criminal Justice Inspection highlights some progress since they last inspected Hydebank in 2004 there are still key issues that must be addressed.

"The conditions for women prisoners in Hydebank are still not satisfactory. Women with severe mental health problems are still not receiving the care they need and we need more resources to be put into women's mental health.

"Sinn Féin also believes that a new facility for women prisoners to cater for the specific needs of women, which was also supported by the UN more than three years ago, should be a priority. The key issues in developing a new facility include:

  • A discrete unit for women prisoners;
  • Appropriate educational and training facilities;
  • Adequate facilities for women with babies or separate/appropriate health care facilities;
  • The practice of subjecting women to strip-searches;
  • Appropriate regime and facilities for housing women at risk from self-harm;
  • Separate transport to and from court.

"Past reports detail the inhumane nature of locking women in isolation for periods of time, the humiliation of strip searches, the lack of contact with families and the association with male prisoners to and from court. There is also the much wider issue of women charged with minor offences, such as for not paying fines, going to jail which is certainly unacceptable." ENDS

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