Belfast Telegraph

Prisoner downloads adult content

Justice Minister David Ford launched an investigation after a prisoner downloaded pornography at Magilligan Prison in Northern Ireland in 2006, it has been revealed.

Three inappropriate videos and copyrighted music were accessed at the Co Londonderry prison, prompting SDLP's Tommy Burns to call for restrictions on internet usage in prisons to become tighter.

He said: "You have got to get the stable door locked up.

"They need to put up barriers so that prisoners cannot get into this stuff. You have got to be able to control it, that is the importance of supervision."

But Mr Ford stressed that inmates are permitted access only to approved websites based on their learning needs. Access to the internet is controlled by computer systems, while instant messaging and email are disabled.

He added: "The workshop was shut down immediately and an internal investigation was conducted. This investigation examined the supervision of inmates while using internet access facilities; the procedures for requesting, approving and installing internet access facilities and the physical and technical security measures put in place to ensure its proper and secure use.

"Weaknesses were identified and corrective action taken to address them. It was concluded that it was not practical to bring charges against the supervising officer or prisoners."

Internet access is supervised in the classroom by teachers and activity is logged in a central database which is routinely inspected. Attempts to access unapproved websites are logged, monitored and challenged.

Internet use for inmates is provided in classrooms on 22 PCs at Maghaberry prison and on seven computers at Magilligan. The initial cost of establishing internet access for both prisons was £734, while running costs are £4,347 a year.

After the incident, the Prison Service subsequently introduced stricter policies and procedures and reinforced staff training.

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