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Prisons: Correspondence

Volume 498: debated on Monday 26 October 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (1) how many illicit items were discovered in prison mail in each prison establishment in Northern Ireland in each month between April and September 2009; (294332)

(2) what procedures there are for the (a) examination and (b) censorship of mail addressed to inmates in (i) HMP Maghaberry, (ii) HMP Magilligan, (iii) HMP Hydebank Wood and (iv) Young Offenders Centre at Hydebank Wood.

I am advised that there were no prohibited items in list A or list B as set out in Article 77 of the Criminal Justice (NI) Order 2008 discovered between April and September 2009. Central records are not held of all items which may be considered inappropriate by each establishment.

In all establishments all mail addressed to inmates is opened by prison staff and checked for illicit enclosures. Routinely up to 10 per cent. of mail is censored. Special arrangements, where stipulated, apply to inmates who come under the public protection arrangements and are the subject of sexual offence prevention orders, non-molestation orders, or any other directions of the court; in such cases all in-coming and out-going mail will be subject to offence-related monitoring.