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Prisons: Photographs

Volume 498: debated on Monday 26 October 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (1) whether photographs sent to inmates in prisons in Northern Ireland prisons are examined by prison staff before delivery; (294334)

(2) what steps are taken when inappropriate photographs of children are discovered on the premises of prisons in Northern Ireland;

(3) whether the photographs kept on walls by prisoners in prisons in Northern Ireland are regularly inspected;

(4) what steps are being taken to prevent inappropriate photographs of children from (a) entering and (b) being circulated within prisons in Northern Ireland.

All incoming mail to inmates in Northern Ireland prisons is opened by prison staff and examined for any enclosures. All photographs will be examined by prison staff before delivery. If a photograph is deemed inappropriate it will not be forwarded to the prisoner until the relevant investigations are made.

Each establishment has a designated child protection co-ordinator who will be informed if an inappropriate photograph of a child is discovered. The co-ordinator will advise staff and, on the basis of the initial material, will make a decision as to whether or not to refer the matter to social services in the trust area where the child has a home address. Social services may, in turn, arrange for notification of the police. The co-ordinator will also, as appropriate, inform the parents of the actions being taken.

All prisoners’ cells are regularly inspected and searched by prison staff. Photographs on walls will be inspected as part of that process and may be removed as part of that inspection procedure. If an inappropriate photograph is found it would be confiscated and investigations undertaken.