Supplementary Memorandum from Northern
Ireland Prison Service
NORTHERN IRELAND AFFAIRS COMMITTEE: PROVISION
OF ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
During the course of our recent meeting with
the Committee, I undertook to provide Members with additional
factual information which I did not have immediately to hand.
There were two topics. Mr Beggs asked for the proportion of prisoners
remaining in HMP Maze compared to the total number when the early
release programme began in September 1998. In exploring performance
on recruitment, and in particular the religious balance during
a recent exercise, Mr Barnes quoted figures from the Prison Service's
Annual Report. I undertook to provide information on the full
recruitment exercise which spanned both the end of 1998-99 and
the beginning of 1999-2000. I attach the figures on the Maze population
at Annex A and the information on recruitment along with an explanatory
note at Annex B. I also enclose copies of the Northern Ireland
Prison Service staff magazine "Inside Out" as requested
by Mr Pound.
I trust that the Committee finds this helpful.
3 November 1999
POPULATION OF HMP MAZE AT SEPTEMBER 1998
AND OCTOBER 1999
|Total number of prisoners in HMP Maze before commencement of early releases in September 1998
|Total number of prisoners at 27 October 1999
|Proportion now in HMP Maze compared to pre-early release arrangements
NORTHERN IRELAND PRISON SERVICE RECRUITMENT STATISTICS
The Committee commented on the recruitment statistics contained
in the Northern Ireland Prison Service Annual Report for 1998-99.
I undertook to provide more detailed advice.
In keeping with the practice across the Civil Service, recruitment
statistics relating to a particular period reflect the activity,
ie applications and appointments, within that period. The appointments
do not necessarily directly relate to the applications, as some
may be made after the end of the period reported on. In 1998-99
the competitions for which applicant figures were given had not
been completed at 31 March 1999 and the appointment figures do
not reflect the result of the applications. In hindsight an explanatory
note to this effect would have been helpful and will, if relevant,
be included in future reports.
The attached table shows the final outcome of the applications
which were included in the Annual Report. From this it can be
seen that the level of Roman Catholic and women appointments was
broadly in proportion to the application rate. Roman Catholics
represented 18 per cent of applicants and 20 per cent of appointees.
Women represented 48 per cent of applicants and 51 per cent of
appointees. This suggests that there is therefore no cause for
concern at present about any disproportionate effect of selection
procedures. The under-representation of Roman Catholics is largely
due to insufficient numbers applying to join the Service.
Compared with previous years and other recruitment drives,
there has been a relatively low level of recruitment activity
for some time because of the decline of the prison population
over a number of years. Taking the six competitions of the previous
two years, which included a major Prison Auxiliary Officer competition,
Roman Catholics represented 14 per cent of the applicant pool.
There has not been a competition for Prison Officer Grades since
1993 when the Roman Catholic applicant rate was only 11 per cent.
The application rate is therefore improving, although it is not
yet at an acceptable level.
We believe that the disproportionately low number of Roman
Catholics applying for jobs in the Prison Service is related to
a genuine fear of intimidation or harassment by terrorist organisations
and a reluctance of prospective applicants in some parts of the
community to be associated with what they see as part of the security
services, along with police and army. The introduction of affirmative
action advertising in 1993specifically welcoming applications
from Roman Catholicsand the improving security and political
situation have improved the Roman Catholic application rate somewhat.
We would expect this to continue to improve with further political
progress. However, with a reduction in the size of the Service
by approximately 40 per cent due to the accelerated release of
prisoners under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement, recruitment
in the Service in the immediate future will be minimal.