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Volume 453: debated on Monday 27 November 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what the current (a) male and (b) female prison population in Northern Ireland is; and how many (i) male and (ii) female prison vacancies there are in Northern Ireland. (101104)

At 17 November 2006, there were 1,432 male and 38 female prisoners in Northern Ireland. Some 30 per cent. of male prisoners currently share a cell, (one house for young offenders at Hydebank Wood is closed for cell refurbishment). There are currently 24 vacant female cells, and 89 vacant male cells. However the latter figure includes 28 in separated conditions at Maghaberry, 18 in the Foyleview Resettlement Unit at Magilligan (which can only be used for lower risk prisoners) and 19 at one House in The Young Offenders Centre which is specifically allocated for under 18s. Work is ongoing to build two ready to use units, with a total of 180 cells, at Maghaberry and Magilligan Prisons.