Beattie raises concerns about staffing levels in Maghaberry Prison

The Ulster Unionist Party’s Upper Bann MLA, Doug Beattie MC, has expressed his concern at the level of supervision of prisoners in HMP Maghaberry during ‘silent hours’ and called on the Justice Minister to take action to ensure it is both safe and appropriate.

Doug Beattie, who is also his Party’s Justice spokesperson said:

“It is my understanding that a prison of over 870 prisoners has only 31 officers in a supervisory role throughout the night to deal with any issues that may arise.  Whilst I am aware that prisoners are locked in their cells during these hours of minimal supervision, I am also conscious that there are up to 30 prisoners deemed to be ‘at risk’ and who will require a level of observation spanning from every 15 minutes to every hour. I have also been made aware that the recommended figure of 31 officers on night duty is seldom met, and that in fact the actual number is closer to 25, which itself is reduced by two if ever a prisoner needs to be taken to hospital.

“Given the recent Ombudsman’s report on the Sean Lynch self-harm incident, I believe this level of supervision is inadequate in providing for the safety and security of our prison population. I also believe that such staffing levels are detrimental to working practices for the very prison officers who will be held to account every time there is an incident.

“Consequently, I have asked the Justice Minister to closely examine the minimum staff supervision levels for night duties to determine whether or not they are both safe and appropriate, and to take action accordingly.”

News Archives