Inspectors praise progress at Magilligan Prison

Magilligan Prison
Image caption Magilligan Prison was praised in the report

The first major inspection of Magilligan Prison for four years has found that improvements have been made but with "room for further progress".

A report said that two new residential units and a health care facility have improved safety at the County Londonderry jail.

It added that care for those at risk of self-harm was good.

But it warned that poor industrial relations with prison officers was a barrier to further progress.

'Reasonably good'

The report, published on Monday, was compiled by Criminal Justice Inspection Northern Ireland (CJI) and Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Prisons (HMIP).

After their last visit in 2006, inspectors called for a complete rebuild at the prison site.

However, following the latest inspection this Spring, the quality of education, skills and work opportunities available for prisoners was welcomed.

Overall, in each of four categories tested, standards were judged to be "reasonably good" - the second highest rating.

However, inspectors warned that strike action by the Northern Ireland Prisoner Officers' Association (POA) was "seriously limiting" prisoners' time out of their cells.

They found that because of staff restrictions, only 119 education places out of a potential 158 were being used.

The original house blocks were also judged to be "unfit for purpose" with an unsatisfactory night sanitation system.

Cancellation

The wide range of accomodation "spread out over a large, badly planned site meant that it was difficult to get around, especially in bad weather, which could lead to the cancellation of work and classes", the report added.

Dr Michael Maguire, Chief Inspector of Criminal Justice in Northern Ireland, welcomed the improvements that had been made at the prison.

In a joint statement with Nigel Newcomen, Deputy Chief Inspector of Prisons in England and Wales, he said that the Northern Ireland Prison Service should be commended for the work carried out.

The statement added that it hoped support would be provided to "deal with the seemingly intractable problem of poor industrial relations."

Acting Governor of Magilligan, Gavin Clendinning, paid tribute to staff following the publication of the report.

He made special reference to recently retired governor Tom Woods, who was in charge of the prison at the time of the inspection.

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites