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Maghaberry: Drugs and violence rampant in Northern Ireland's most secure prison

By Deborah McAleese

Published 02/07/2016

Concerns: Maghaberry Prison
Concerns: Maghaberry Prison

Levels of violence and drug abuse within Northern Ireland's most secure jail remain too high, inspectors have found.

Inmates at Maghaberry Prison do not feel safe within the facility and the availability of drugs is continuing to increase, according to the Criminal Justice Inspection.

A new report by the watchdog also found that the jail was lacking a robust policy to investigate allegations of assault on an inmate by a warder.

And concern was raised at the absence of a regular prison-wide process to monitor or manage the behaviour of the most risky inmates.

Inspectors found the prison had "stabilised" after serious concerns were raised last year around safety and leadership.

However, the report called for "urgent and decisive action" to "strengthen the leadership of the prison".

One of Northern Ireland's most senior academic experts on prisons accused jail bosses of failing to deliver on their commitments to overhaul the system.

Professor of criminology Phil Scraton warned that the state of Northern Ireland's prison system amounted to a "travesty of injustice and human rights violations".

He said it was shocking that problems within Maghaberry had been left to "fester", and that inmates at Magilligan in the north west were still being forced to slop out their cells.

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