Northern Ireland Prison Service: Crimes of Violence

Northern Ireland written question – answered on 18th February 2008.

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Photo of Sylvia Hermon Sylvia Hermon UUP, North Down

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many incidents of assault against staff have been reported (a) at prisons and (b) at the Woodlands Juvenile Justice Centre in Northern Ireland in each of the last 12 months; of those incidents, how many have resulted in (i) prosecutions and (ii) convictions; and if he will make a statement.

Photo of Paul Goggins Paul Goggins Minister of State, Northern Ireland Office

The information is as follows:

(a) In the majority of cases prisoners who assault prison officers will be charged under prison rules and will be subject to an adjudication before a Governor. Either the matter is concluded at the adjudication or the adjudication is postponed pending referral to the police for investigation with a view to prosecution. This does not preclude a governor from deciding to call in the police in the immediate aftermath of an assault occurring, whether prisoner on prisoner or prisoner on staff.

Month Number of staff assaulted Comments
February 2007 1 at Maghaberry Still awaiting prosecution decision
March 2007 2 Maghaberry escort officers at court Still awaiting prosecution decision
April 2007 1 Maghaberry escort officer at court Involved a male juvenile at court. He was transferred to a Juvenile Justice Centre before charges under Prison and Young Offender Rules could be preferred.
May 2007 2 Maghaberry officers Still awaiting prosecution decision
June 2007 3 (1 Maghaberry officer, 2 Magilligan officers) Still awaiting prosecution decision in the Maghaberry case. The police have forwarded a file on the 2 Magilligan cases to the PPS to determine if prosecution will follow. Result awaited.
July 2007 0
August 2007 0
September 2007 6 (4 Maghaberry escort officers at court, 2 Magilligan officers) 4 Maghaberry staff were assaulted by a 15-year-old juvenile at Laganside court. Of the 2 Magilligan cases, one prison adjudication charge was withdrawn. Prosecution decision is still awaited in the other case.
October 2007 4 (3 Maghaberry escort officers at court, and 1 at the prison) Still awaiting prosecution decision in these cases.
November 2007 1 Maghaberry escort officer at court The prisoner who caused the injury was released at court before charges under prison rules could be preferred.
December 2007 2 Magilligan officers Still awaiting prosecution decision in these cases.
January 2008 2 Maghaberry officers In both cases the adjudication has been adjourned.
Total 24

(b) The information provided by Woodlands Juvenile Justice Centre is set out as follows. In the majority of cases young people who are involved in assaults on staff will be subject to the consequences of the progressive regime (an incentivised behaviour management programme whereby young people can earn additional privileges through good behaviour) and will suffer loss of privileges earned. When the matter is deemed to be an unprovoked assault or when the intervention of staff during physical control in care procedures develops into a serious incident and staff are injured, these are deemed assaults. Those of a serious nature will be reported to the police for investigation with a view to prosecution. The outcome of the police investigations is not known at this time.

Month Number of staff assaulted Comments
January 2007 0
February 2007 2 PSNI contacted relating to 1 incident
March 2007 2 PSNI contacted relating to 1 incident
April 2007 3 Minor incidents dealt with through progressive regime
May 2007 5 PSNI contacted relating to 1 incident
June 2007 6 PSNI contacted relating to 1 incident
July 2007 2 Minor incidents dealt with through progressive regime
August 2007 2 PSNI contacted relating to 1 incident
September 2007 1 PSNI contacted
October 2007 4 PSNI contacted relating to 2 incidents
November 2007 0
December 2007 0
Total 27

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