Praise for prisoners who earned qualifications while in custody
Convicted criminals have gained qualifications in computing, cooking and art while in prison, the Department of Justice has confirmed.
City and Guilds certificates have been awarded to some 30 prisoners serving sentences at Magilligan jail in Co Londonderry.
Justice Minister David Ford, who made the presentation, said the new skills enhanced prisoners' chances of employment after release and reduced the risk of re-offending.
He said: "I commend these prisoners who want to change and are planning for life outside prison. I have no doubt the skills they have learned will go a long way to improving their personal lives.
"By increasing their job prospects we are also facilitating their return to the community where they can make a positive contribution, at the same time reducing the risk of re-offending and creating a safer Northern Ireland."
Accredited courses in literacy, numeracy, ICT (information, computing and technology), GCSE art, food safety and catering are run in partnership between the Prison Service and North West Regional College in Magilligan, and the Belfast Metropolitan College in Maghaberry and Hydebank Wood College which houses young offenders.
Employment and Learning Minister Dr Stephen Farry said: "Education and training in prison settings holds the key to increasing opportunities for prisoners to make more positive life choices."
Meanwhile, Calum Morrison, director of North West Regional College's Limavady campus said they were "delighted" with the prisoners' achievements.