Belfast Telegraph

Rules for searching inmates relaxed

By Michael McHugh

Rules on conducting full body searches of dissident republican prisoners in Northern Ireland have been eased in some circumstances as part of the "normalisation" of security arrangements in jail, the authorities have said.

Staff are still under serious threat following the murder of warder David Black in 2012, the Prison Service said.

Maghaberry Prison, in Co Antrim, holds paramilitary prisoners opposed to the peace process in closely guarded separated units, with tight restrictions on movement and measures to detect hidden guns.

But a review found that the requirement for random full body searches on the way to visits had been eased following a lengthy "dirty protest", a tactic used by IRA prisoners in the 1970s and early 1980s. Inmates are no longer routinely subjected to the precautionary procedure when leaving prison on final discharge or home leave, the Prison Service confirmed.

Director general Sue McAllister said: "This is not about relinquishing control to any prisoners but it is about having proportionate security. This is about building a conflict-free environment within a high security prison."

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