Sinn Féin - On Your Side

Prison Ombudsman highlights culture of bad practice at all levels

9 January, 2009 - by Maeve McLaughlin

Sinn Fein Policing Board member Martina Anderson today said that it was vital that all the recommendations being made by the Prison Ombudsman in her report into the suicide of an inmate, Colin Bell, in Maghaberry last August are implemented including disciplinary procedures.

Ms Anderson said:

"The report issued today has serious findings and includes 44 recommendations that must acted upon.

"Regardless of why someone is in prison it is essential that their rights are protected and their needs met. This report shows clearly that this has not happened in this case.

"Examining the Prison Ombudsman in detail, the findings provide quite shocking examples of bad practice and unacceptable behaviour by staff which goes right to the highest level.

"If the problem of suicide and self harm within the prison system is to be addressed then reports like this need to be acted upon. What we need to see now is the implementation of all the recommendations including disciplinary procedures to ensure utmost compliance with human rights within our prison system.

"That these failings happened while the Prison Service is under the control of the NIO and Paul Goggins highlights further the need for accountable and transparent justice mechanisms, currently being devolved to the North, to deal with the specific local needs."

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