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Prison Monitoring Report – new facility for women prisoners needed

26 September, 2007

Sinn Féin Women's spokesperson, West Belfast MLA Jennifer McCann has said that the Monitoring Board Report into Hydebank Prison and the recommendation that women prisoners require a new purpose built facility demands an immediate response.

Ms McCann said:

"Last month Sinn Féin led a cross-party delegation to look at the conditions for women held at Hydebank. The conditions facing women there are appalling. 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 are practices which need to end. Women have died in prison because the facilities have failed to provide the support they need.

"This report from the Monitoring Board is only the latest in a long line of highly damming reports, including a report from the Criminal Justice Inspectorate in May 2005 and the recent Human Rights Commission report into the abuses of human rights.

"Sinn Féin believes that a new facility for women prisoners, which was also supported by the United Nations more than two years ago, should be provided as a matter of priority to cater for the specific needs of women.

"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." ENDS

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