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David Ford Announces Investment in Northern Ireland Prison Estate

The future of Magilligan Prison has been settled with a new strategy, announced this month, by Justice Minister David Ford. The investment of £202 million into the prison estate in Northern Ireland is to include a redevelopment of the Magilligan Prison on its current site.

A recommendation from a previous review group which called on the prison to be closed and a new facility built in a more central location had been met with widespread local opposition. The redevelopment is expected to be complete by 2020.

In addition to the retention and redevelopment of Magilligan, the following projects were also announced:

  • Phased redevelopment of Hydebank Wood as a secure college
  • Provision of a separate, dedicated facility for women offenders which provides both custodial and community services
  • Reconfiguration of Maghaberry Prison including a new accommodation block and high-security facility
  • Development of a working-out unit on the site of the former Prisoner Assessment Unit

The strategy regarding the detention of women offenders is part of a broader approach which recognises the need to incarcerate fewer woman, and to divert as many as possible from the prison system. Minister Ford said he wanted a community-based approach to be the norm when it came to sentencing women offenders. Currently, sites on the existing Hydebank Wood plot are being considered. This announcement is in line with the recommendations of the Corston Report on the desirability of diverting women to community alternatives, and of establishing custodial units with adjoining community services.

Read the press release here.

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