AQW 3377/17-22 – Northern Ireland Prison Service and Coronavirus

Mr Patsy McGlone (Mid Ulster): To ask the Minister of Justice what measures are being taken by the Northern Ireland Prison Service to protect staff and prisoners against coronavirus.

Minister of Justice: The Northern Ireland Prison Service take the threat presented by COVID19 extremely seriously and have undertaken significant work in preparation for the challenges an outbreak would bring in a custodial environment.

Preparations have included the purchase of additional protective clothing for staff and the preparation of areas within each prison where prisoners suspected and or diagnosed with the virus can be accommodated. Both the Prison Service and our partners in the South Eastern Trust have been following guidance issued by the Public Health Agency which has also been provided to staff and prisoners.

The Director General has put in place specific operational planning and implementation structures and established a dedicated team to oversee planning arrangements and to support Governors in dealing with the challenges they will inevitably face. The Prison Service recognise the importance of good communication and is committed to working with staff, prisoners, families and stakeholders as operational decisions are taken.