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Last Updated: Thursday, 20 January, 2005, 17:21 GMT
Inquiry dismisses prison claims
The allegations were about prisoners at Mourne House
An investigation into the running of Mourne House, the women's wing at Maghaberry Prison, has found that the Prison Service has no case to answer.

The inquiry, carried out by an ex-RUC chief superintendent, found there was no evidence to support allegations of improper behaviour by prison officers.

Prison Service Director Robin Masefield said the report would help bring closure to the issue.

But the Human Rights Commission called for the full report to be published.

Improper relations

The inquiry into Mourne House was commissioned in April 2004 by the former director general of the Prison Service, Peter Russell.

It followed accusations of inappropriate standards of behaviour in the female wing, including allegations of staff having improper relations with prisoners.

Robin Masefield
Robin Masefield said he hoped for closure

Mr Masefield said: "These allegations have hung over Maghaberry for far too long.

"I hope with the publication of this report, that the matter can be finally put behind us, and that the service can get on with its primary role of looking after prisoners and protecting the community."

However, the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission wants to see all the documents relating to the inquiry.

Chief commissioner Professor Brice Dickson said: "In the interests of transparency, it is vital that the public has access to the full report on these allegations as soon as possible.

"The summary as published - being only 56 pages of a report which apparently stretches to over 900 pages - gives scant evidence about how the inquiry team reached its conclusions."

Almost 150 members of the prison service were interviewed in relation to 55 complaints - 48 of them were made by one member of staff.

Thirteen women prisoners were given the opportunity to talk to the team, but only six took part.

The inquiry found that 43 of the complaints were found to have no substance and had no evidence to support the allegations or were groundless.

According to the report, complaints that were judged to have some foundation were not serious.

The inquiry team also found that despite reports in the media that there was a dossier or a formal report containing serious allegations against management and staff at Maghaberry, neither of these existed.

However the team has made 70 recommendations on a wide range of matters including a number of existing procedures.

Northern Ireland's female prisoner population, which currently stands at 31, are now housed at Hydebank Wood in Belfast.

Inquiry into prison allegations
05 Nov 04 |  Northern Ireland
Women prisoners move criticised
18 Jun 04 |  Northern Ireland

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