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Armagh Prison (Strip Searches)

Volume 77: debated on Friday 19 April 1985

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asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many strip searches were made of female prisoners in Her Majesty's prison, Armagh, in March; if he will give the number of persons involved and the number of times each person was searched; whether any prison contraband, smuggled item or illegal correspondence was discovered in any search, indicating which items; in how many cases prisoners refused to be searched and had to be restrained while the search was being concluded; and if he will indicate the reasons for the search, namely, making an appearance at Armagh court house on remand, attending trial, inter-prison visit or other reasons, respectively.

During March 1985 a total of 59 strip searches were carried out on 35 prisoners, A life-sentence prisoner taking part in a pre-release programme was searched on 10 occasions; 15 prisoners were searched twice, and 19 were searched once. No prohibited articles were found during these searches and no prisoner refused to be searched. The searches were carried out in the following circumstances:

Attending Armagh remand court
Attending trial1
Inter-prison visits11
Pre-release programme8
Home leave scheme11
First committal on remand/to await sentence9
First admission on sentence/final discharge24
Bail court appearance6

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland whether the three items of smuggled contraband so far found on women prisoners subject to strip searches in Her Majesty's prison, Armagh, were found on remand prisoners returning from appearing before the court in Armagh.

Two of the items were found during the routine reception search of two prisoners who were remanded in custody to the prison for the first time; and the third was found during a random search of a remand prisoner prior to her appearance at Armagh court house.