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Budget Makes NI Prisons ‘Increasingly Challenging’

The work of the prison service in Northern Ireland is “increasingly challenging in the context of increasing budget pressures”, its director general has said.

Beverley Wall’s comments come as the daily prison population increased by 12.8% between 2022 and 2023.

The male population increased from 1,428 to 1,607 while the female population rose from 66 to 78.

The amount of prisoners released on remand also increased by 11.2% to 607.

This is the highest it has been over the last eight years.

Ms Wall said Northern Ireland’s three prisons at Maghaberry, Magilligan and Hydebank Wood College and Female Prison “are dealing with a continually increasing prisoner population, many of whom have significant addiction and mental health issues”.

The Department of Justice figures were released as part of a National Statistics Publication.

Prisoners aged between 30 and 39 accounted for the largest proportion of both the average daily immediate custody prison population (36.2%) and of the remand population (34.9%).

There were 830 prisoners in Northern Ireland in 2018.

In June, the thenhead of the prison service, Ronnie Armour, said Maghaberry Prison was facing pressure due to an increasing numbers of inmates.

He was speaking after a “disappointing” inspection which found a “serious drug problem” at the prison.

Source : BBC