Page last updated at 12:41 GMT, Monday, 24 October 2011 13:41 UK

Prison Service Review

The next six months will be crucial if reform of the prison service is to take shape, the justice minister told the assembly, on 24 October 2011.

David Ford said he supported the general thrust of the reforms and echoed the review team's frustration with the slow progress of reforms since publication of an interim report in February 2011, but added:

"As a result of work that has been continuing behind the scenes over the last year, I am confident we will soon see a step-change in the pace of the reform programme."

He emphasised concerns around apparent differences in the treatment of Catholic prisoners compared to Protestant counterparts but said there was not conclusive proof that there is discrimination against Catholic prisoners.

Reforms include an exit strategy for long-serving staff, and changes to the prison estate, including the development of the Donard Day Centre at Maghaberry for vulnerable prisoners.

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