Select Committee on Northern Ireland Affairs Minutes of Evidence

Letter to the Clerk of the Committee from the Director General of the Northern Ireland Prison Service


  That you for your letter of 21 December about the above.

  As you state, the Stage Two Report of the Quinquennial Review commented that the targets chosen in Northern Ireland of five per hundred prisoners for assaults on staff and 9.5 per hundred prisoners for assault on other prisoners appear to compare unfavourably with the corresponding targets in Scotland, ie 2.8 and 26 per thousand prisoners.

  The definition below is used by the Scottish Prison Service (SPS):

    "When the victim has sustained an injury resulting in detention in hospital as an inpatient, or any of the following injuries whether or not detained in hospital: fractures, concussion, internal injuries, crushing, severe cuts or lacerations, severe bruising, burns or scalds, or severe general shock requiring medical treatment."

  At our Prison Service Seminar held on 26 October 2000 senior managers in the Service and representatives from each of the three trade unions considered the application of the SPS definition and targets to measure good order and control in establishments. It was concluded that the SPS definition would exclude the vast majority of assaults in our establishments which are not serious enough to be captured by it and thus would provide too restricted an indicator of the level of order and control.

  However, it was recognised that the existing Key Performance Indicator did not provide a complete picture as it merely reflected the number of incidents of assault rather than the number of staff and prisoners assaulted—sometimes an incident involves more than one victim. Therefore from April 2001 we will be measuring:

    (a)  number of staff assaulted by prisoners; and

    (b)  number of prisoners assaulted by prisoners.

  I trust the above clarifies our position but should the Committee require any further information please do not hesitate to contact me.

3 January 2001

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