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 know that the whole House will wish to join me in agreeing with the sympathy expressed by the hon. Gentleman for the family of his constituent who was killed in the incident concerned.

On the question both of the security of prisoners and of the safety of prison staff, to which the hon. Gentleman referred, there can be no guarantee of absolute security —as I said in my answer to the hon. Member for Caithness and Sutherland (Mr. Maclennan).

All prison governors take practical and reasonable steps to discharge their duty of care. However, segregation does not guarantee safety; the two prisoners murdered in prison were segregated. Most of the recommendations of the internal security review of Belfast prison have been implemented. I recognise that that mainly concerns prisoners, but I assure the hon. Gentleman that it also concerns prison officers.

I referred in my statement to the Royal Ulster Constabulary investigation into the murder of the hon. Gentleman's constituent. That investigation is continuing, and the RUC hopes to bring it to a conclusion.