Northern Ireland

Hydebank prison: Suspended governor replaced

Cell gate
Image caption An interim governor has been running Hydebank Wood since May last year

A new governor has been appointed to run NI's third largest prison 10 months after his predecessor was suspended following allegations of misconduct.

Paul Norbury was the only person to apply for the job of governor at Hydebank Wood Prison and Young Offenders Centre in south Belfast.

He will begin a two-year fixed-term contract on 14 April.

Mr Norbury has been a governor since 1982, with his most recent role in Wymott prison in Leyland, Lancashire.

His new post carries an annual salary of up to £72,000.

The prison service said the fact that the contract was for a fixed term contract may explain the lack of applicants.

Removed from duties

An interim governor has been running Hydebank Wood since Gary Alcock was suspended in May last year.

He was removed from his duties after concerns were raised in a report into the death of a 23-year-old woman prisoner, Frances McKeown, who hanged herself in her cell in May 2011.

Mr Alcock was accused of failing to properly investigate claims made by the prisoner, a mother of two with a history of mental illness, before her death.

There was no suggestion that his actions contributed to her suicide

The suspension of such a senior member of staff was highly embarrassing for the prison service as it came shortly after the launch of a programme of fundamental reform.

An independent team from the Scottish prison service investigated the allegations and recommended a misconduct charge.

It was the first time in the history of the prison service that such a senior figure had been charged with misconduct.

Following a disciplinary hearing, Gary Alcock was re-deployed to other duties within the prison service.