Belfast Telegraph

Officer attacked every three days in Northern Irealnd's jail system

By Colin O'Carroll

There is an attack on prison officers almost once every three days, shock new official figures have shown.

The number of assaults on warders in Northern Ireland's three prisons stands at 299 over the past three years.

The figures from the Department of Justice (DoJ) came to light in the Assembly following the death of Adrian Ismay from injuries sustained in a dissident republican bomb attack on his van.

TUV leader Jim Allister asked the department about attacks inside prisons.

He said: "In an answer today to an Assembly question from me, the DoJ has confirmed that in the past three years there have been 299 assaults on prison officers in our prisons, with 181 in Maghaberry and an alarming 100 in Hydebank Wood."

The remaining 18 assaults were in Magilligan. Maghaberry is NI's high security prison while Hydebank Wood holds females and young offenders.

Mr Allister said warders worked in dangerous conditions and claimed more inmates should face court for the attacks.

"We've all seen the price paid outside the prison with the savage murder of officer Ismay, but, clearly, within the prisons assaults are common place," he added.

"All of which speaks to the aggressive environment in which our brave prison officers are called to serve. Too often society takes for granted the courage and service of the Prison Service.

"I've yet to find out how many of these assaults resulted in the perpetrators being made amenable, but anecdotal evidence would suggest not enough."

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