NI: Northern Ireland prisoners make 9,000 complaints about prison conditions

Alastair Ross MLA
Alastair Ross, chair of the Northern Ireland Assembly’s justice committee

Northern Ireland prisoners made 8,848 complaints about prison conditions to the Northern Ireland Prison Service (NIPS) over the past 11 months, the Belfast Telegraph reports.

The largest number of complaints - more than 2,000 - were made about the standard of accommodation, while complaints were also submitted about staff (1,368), lock-up times (498), education (333), food (287), and health and safety (186).

There were also 60 allegations of assault by staff members and 18 allegations of assault by another inmate.

The figures were released after a Freedom of Information (FOI) request was submitted by the Belfast Telegraph.

Alastair Ross, chair of the Northern Ireland Assembly’s justice committee, told the newspaper: “It is important to have a robust complaints mechanism in place, and any complaint should of course be taken seriously.

“The fact that a small number of complaints are ever referred to the Ombudsman would suggest that the internal Northern Ireland Prison Service system is an effective mechanism to deal with the vast majority of complaints.”

He added: “People will draw their own conclusions about the motivation or substance of these complaints, but the fact that so few are upheld would suggest that many are vexatious in nature.”

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