N. Ireland Politics

Justice minister announces prison review team

Maghaberry Prison
Image caption Mr Ford announced a review of all prisons

Justice Minister David Ford has announced the team which will review the conditions of Northern Ireland's prisons.

The team's first task will be to review the regime at Maghaberry.

It will be chaired by Dame Anne Owers, who is due to retire shortly as HM Chief Inspector of Prisons.

She will be supported by Phil Wheatley, Fergus McNeill, Paul Leighton, and Clodach McGrory. The team will begin its work next month.

The minister has asked them to report to him in two stages, firstly in the autumn of 2010 and the second stage by early 2011.

On Monday, Mr Ford said the review team "has a wide range of expertise and I trust that their deliberations will provide a route map for the future direction of the Prison Service".

"I envisage that their work will be undertaken in several stages, the first of which will include a review of the regime at Maghaberry Prison.

"Secondly, it will examine other issues identified in the Hillsborough Agreement, such as the replacement prison for Magilligan and the accommodation for women offenders.

"It will also consider wider issues pertaining to the Service, including the future composition of its workforce and its culture and ethos," he said.

A review of the regime at Maghaberry Prison was announced by Mr Ford in April.

The minister said that among the key issues in the Hillsborough agreement was a review of all prisons.

Review team

  • Dame Anne Owers was appointed HM Chief Inspector of Prisons in 2001.
  • Phil Wheatley is retired Director General of the National Offender Management Service;
  • Fergus McNeill is Professor of Criminology and Social Work at Glasgow University;
  • Paul Leighton is former deputy chief constable of the PSNI;
  • Clodach McGrory, is a barrister and former Human Rights Commissioner, who is currently a parole commissioner and a Chairman of Appeal Tribunals.

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