The Northern Ireland Prison Reform Programme: Progress Made and Challenges Remaining

Dr Michelle Butler (QUB) 

With the devolution of justice powers to the Northern Ireland Assembly following the Hillsborough Agreement (2010), a commitment was given to undertake a review of prison conditions, management and oversight. The findings emerging from this review fed into a significant penal reform programme which was launched in 2011 (DOJNI, 2011). In the final report emerging from this review, 40 recommendations were put forward, outlining “the kind of prison system that could and should be constructed” (Prison Review Team, 2011: 5). The achievement of these 40 recommendations have been used by many as a barometer to judge the success of these reforms. Drawing on publicly available administrative data, this presentation will reflect on the reform journey so far. Key achievements will be reviewed before moving on to discuss some of the main challenges remaining. Comparisons will be drawn with other jurisdictions and insights from academia will be put forward to demonstrate how evidence-based research can be used to inform policy development, practice and reform.
[Policy Briefing] [Presentation]