Northern Ireland (Prison Management)

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:31 pm on 4th March 1992.

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Photo of Mr Peter Brooke Mr Peter Brooke The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland 3:31 pm, 4th March 1992

I shall look into the hon. Gentleman's question. It may be helpful to the House if I list the administrative measures that have been introduced in the past few years to help reduce waiting times. They include: a review of the organisation and staffing levels in the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, relevant sections of the RUC and the Northern Ireland forensic science laboratory; the establishment of a fast stream to identify and take forward cases that can be brought to trial relatively quickly; the appointment of a presiding judge at Belfast Crown court to oversee the listing of cases, and two additional High Court judges, one additional county court judge and 12 additional Queen's counsel, significantly increasing the number of senior counsel available for criminal cases.

In answer to the question by the hon. Member for Upper Bann (Mr. Trimble), I should have said that the major building work at Belfast prison is in preparation. The Government are taking it seriously, but I do not wish to commit myself to the precise moment at which it will be done.