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Prisoners at Magilligan jail given access to Skype

Prisoners in Northern Ireland are being given access to Skype to make video calls - in a UK first.

Over 70 approved inmates at Magilligan jail in Co Londonderry are being allowed access to the audio visual technology as part of a new rehabilitation project.

Governor of Magilligan David Eagleson said: "We know that when prisoners have strong family support they are in better shape for reintegration to family and community and we see this as an important part of the rehabilitation process."

Prisoners have been allocated up to 30 minutes a week and make calls from a sound proof suite which is monitored by security cameras.

It is particularly popular among foreign nationals.

The scheme was piloted last year but could be extended to other prisons.

Mr Eagleson added: " One of the most serious aspects of being in prison can be the sense of isolation and even abandonment; and one of the most effective support that can be given to prisoners is the assurance that they are not forgotten.

"Moreover, imprisonment may also have a devastating effect on the development of relationships between a child and father. Being able to interact in 'real time' with their father, in their own home, helps children to understand he is engaged with their lives, interested in their achievements, and is there to support them in times of difficulty.

"This interaction also helps foster a sense of security, mitigate any negative social and developmental aspects on the children, and ease the reintegration of the father into the family home following release."

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