31. The availability and use of drugs in prisons
can cause serious problems. An independent assessment of the level
of illegal drugs usage was carried out in 1999 in HMP Magilligan,
HMP Maghaberry and HMYOC Hydebank Wood.
The Prison Service witnesses told us that this concluded that
there was "an element of a drugs culture in each of the prisons
in Northern Ireland",
but that "on the whole it is rather below what you would
find in the rest of the UK, which reflects the fact that in Northern
Ireland as a whole the level of drug abuse is lower than that
in the rest of the UK."
32. The independent assessment found that there was
a window of opportunity to tackle the drugs problems identified
and prevent it growing to serious levels. A number of steps are
being taken by the Prison Service in response to the Review, including
revised local drugs strategies for each establishment, and exchanges
of ideas and strategies with the Irish Prisons Service.
Possibilities under consideration include mandatory drug testing,
which would require legislation, and an enhancement of education
programmes about the dangers of drugs.
The Prison Service has also introduced new visiting arrangements
at HMP Magilligan, which includes improved measures to prevent
drugs smuggling by visitors, and the intention is to extend these
to other establishments in due course.
Mr Halward was confident that this "will reduce significantly
the amount of drugs getting into prison."
33. We welcome the active steps being taken by
the Prison Service to seek to minimise the level of drug abuse
in its establishments. Although the current level of drug abuse
appears to be relatively low, we would encourage the Prison Service
to maintain levels of vigilance to ensure that this remains the
Other operational matters
34. The closure of HMP Maze, at the end of September,
was an event of major significance, as its closure also brought
to an end the segregation of prisoners according to political
It is currently mothballed and its long term future will be determined
in the context of the estate review that has recently been started.
35. The closure of HMP Maze does, however, put additional
pressures on HMP Maghaberry. We commented in our original report
on the key role already played by that prison. There have been
reports in the press about pressure from former Maze prisoners
for the introduction of a segregated régime at HMP Maghaberry
in particular. The Prison Service assured us that these reports
and that the ex-Maze prisoners who have gone into normal location
at Maghaberry "have not caused us any problems to date."
Mr Mogg, Governor of HMP Maze, commented that pressure for segregation
is "something just under the surface all the time",
but "there is no campaign as such."
Both Mr Spratt, of the Prison Officers' Association (Northern
and Mr McAleer, of the Prison Governors' Association (Northern
agreed that there was no current problem in this respect.
36. Neither set of union representatives wished
to see the reintroduction of segregation of paramilitary prisoners.
Nor do we, as we made clear in our original Report.
31 Ev. p. 1. Back
31-32 and Ev. p. 16. Back
One Report, paras. 3.4.7 and 3.4.12. Back
Ev. p. 29 and Q 32. The Quinquennial Review concluded that the
market-testing of an entire prison establishment in Northern Ireland
was not feasible in current circumstances (Stage One Report, para.
p. 18. Back
p. 29 and Q 120-122. Back
p. 29 Back
Governors of HMP Maghaberry, HMP Magilligan and HMYOC Hydebank
716 (1997-98), para 75. Back
866-i, Ev. p. 2. Back
2, See also Q 35. Back
Bryett, formerly of Queen's University, Belfast, was the Committee's
Specialist Adviser for its inquiry into the composition, recruitment
and training of the RUC (Third Report, Session 1997-98, HC 337). Back
p. 3 and Q 45-46. See also Q 93. Back
866-i, Ev. p. 2, Q 59-62. Back
p. 3. Back
of the Criminal Justice System in Northern Ireland, March 2000,
paras. 10.79 to 10.84 (p. 241-243). Back
Report, 29 November 2000, Vol. 357, Col. 637-639W. Back
p. 3. Back
39. See also Q 41. Back
p. 3 and Q 38. Back
the time the Prison Service gave evidence, three former prisoners
from HMP Maze were held in a separate unit at HMP Maghaberry pending
the outcome of an appeal against a refusal to grant judicial review
of the decision to remove the remaining prisoners at HMP Maze
into integrated conditions; see Q 36. Back
87, Q 91. Back
130, Q 135 Back