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Root and branch reform of Prison Service required – McCartney

14 December, 2010 - by Raymond McCartney

Sinn Féin MLA for Foyle and deputy Chair of the Assembly Justice Committee Raymond McCartney has called for an immediate root and branch reform of the Prison Service here.

Commenting after the publication of the damning latest report into the north’s prison system by the Criminal Justice Inspectorate Raymond said;

“What is clear from this report is that there is a deficit of leadership, accountability, governance and performance management within the prison system. Fundamental to this deficit is the “corrosive relationship” between the prison management and the Prison Officers Association (POA).

One thing that has been abundantly clear for decades now is the systematic problems that directly derive from the culture operating within the POA. That conflict culture must be tackled head on and it must be brought to an immediate end.

It is totally unacceptable that in the current economic circumstances such a vast amount of Prison Officers and being paid unjustifiable sums of money for doing considerably less than in equivalent prison systems elsewhere. I have no doubt that the community will be deeply concerned to learn of some of the statistics contained in the Inspectorates report.

This is yet another in a litany of negative reports into the system here; while it wont come as a surprise to many, it must now act as a catalyst for the Justice Minister to take action on the numerous findings contained therein and ensure than on his watch, a much needed root and branch reform of both culture and practicalities is carried out within the Prison System here.

I am today meeting with Ann Owers Prison Review Team and it is vital that their ongoing work is now given the proper resources and extended terms of reference to ensure that her report will ensure that we have a prison service fit for the 21st century.” CRÍOCH

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