Lifers granted leave for Christmas
Eleven life-sentence prisoners in Northern Ireland are being released for Christmas leave.
The Prison Service granted 72 inmates the concession for varying periods from December 21 until January 2. The equivalent total for last year was 87.
Conditions were placed on all successful applicants, while applications from a further 112 were refused, the Prison Service said.
A total of 36 prisoners are being freed from Magilligan jail, of which two are early releases from a sentence due to finish over the break.
Another 23 are being released from Maghaberry, of which 11 are lifers.
From Hydebank Wood Young Offenders Centre and Prison eight young offenders are being freed, of which three are early releases, while five women are being released, one of which is an early release.
A Prison Service spokesman said: "All prisoners granted home leave at Christmas have been subject to a satisfactory risk assessment and have either successfully completed a home leave programme or undergone periods of unaccompanied testing in the community."
To be eligible to apply for Christmas home leave, life sentence prisoners must be at least within three years of their minimum tariff or have passed the limit, set by the trial judge as the minimum term they must spend behind bars before they can be considered for release, and must be successfully undergoing periods of release or successfully participating in a home leave programme.
Life sentence prisoners without a tariff must have been continuously in custody for at least 10 years at December 21 this year and must be undergoing successful periods of unaccompanied testing in the community and or successfully participating in the home leave programme.