In-person visits to resume at Northern Ireland prisons

In-person visits to resume at Northern Ireland prisons

Northern Ireland prisons will resume in-person visits from Monday, the Northern Ireland Prison Service has confirmed.

Visits were suspended shortly after Christmas 2021 in response to the increased risk posed by the Omicron variant.

Ronnie Armour, director general of the NI Prison Service, said: “Keeping people safe has been our top priority throughout the pandemic. Prisons, like all sections of the community, responded to the threat posed by Omicron by restricting access to our prisons. As that threat recedes we can now take steps to recommence our recovery.

“No-one should underestimate the challenges this pandemic has presented to our staff, partners and indeed those we look after. Our staff have shown they will respond in an appropriate manner when the threat increases, but also when that diminishes.

“Therefore I am pleased to announce that in-person visits, including legal visits, will start again next week.”

Support services and prison libraries provided by third-party delivery partners will also re-open. Packages, including paperback books, will also be accepted on specific days at each prison and on request.

Mr Armour said: “Our partners play a crucial role in supporting rehabilitation and we are again in the position to facilitate and support that work. The opening of our libraries is a further step towards a full and productive day for the people in our care.

“While this is a significant day on our road to recovery, we cannot be complacent. The threat of Covid-19 is real and that is particularly challenging in a prison.

“However we will continue to be proactive in our response to Covid-19 and to relax restrictions when it is safe to do so. The safety of everyone in prison remains our focus.”

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