Northern Ireland

Justice Minister David Ford announces prison reforms

The justice minister has announced a set of reforms for the prison service in Northern Ireland.

David Ford outlined the measures in a speech at Crumlin Road jail.

The system of incentives for prisoners is being changed.

Until now, prisoners have been rewarded if they did not behave badly. Under the new measures, inmates will have to engage in 'purposeful activity' to earn privileges.

The prison service is also taking a new approach to tackling drug abuse in prisons.

Work has begun on establishing a drugs rehabilitation unit at Maghaberry prison

The prison service is also focusing on making prisoners more employable when they are released.

The measures are part of an ongoing programme of change across Northern Ireland's three prisons.

Reducing suicide and self-harm is a key aim of the strategy.

Over the last few years, the Prisoner Ombudsman has issued several critical reports following the deaths of prisoners in custody.