Belfast Telegraph

All Northern Ireland prisoners released for Christmas back behind bars, confirms Prison Service

(NIPS/Michael Cooper/PA)
(NIPS/Michael Cooper/PA)

All of those Northern Ireland prisoners given Christmas leave to return home over the festive break are back behind bars, it has been confirmed.

The Prison Service granted leave for 26 lags - 42 fewer than in 2018.

They were granted leave for various periods from Christmas Eve until Thursday.

Of those released, 17 were granted home leave from Magilligan Prison, eight from Maghaberry Prison and one from Hydebank Wood College for young offenders and women.

Conditions were placed on all those successfully granted the leave.

The Prison Service received a total of 87 applications in Northern Ireland, ultimately refusing 61 requests.

Last year 68 prisoners were granted Christmas home leave, 11 fewer than in 2017.

Prisoners granted home leave have been subject to a risk assessment and have either completed a home leave programme or undergone periods of unaccompanied testing in the community.

All prisoners granted leave must have served at least 50% of their sentence.

Those released must be within three years of their jail term’s end, have been recommended for release by parole commissioners and have successfully completed an unaccompanied overnight release in the past.

Only those sentenced before October 31 are eligible and those on remand - that is awaiting trail - are not eligible.

Northern Ireland prisons house 1,448 prisoners, according to the latest statistics released by the Department of Justice.

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