More staff than prisoners in Magilligan

Magilligan Prison. Picture by Margaret McLaughlin
Magilligan Prison. Picture by Margaret McLaughlin

There were more staff than prisoners in Magilligan prison in May 2009, although the number of staff employed at the jail has reduced dramatically since then.

The number of staff employed at Magilligan Prison has undergone a significant decrease in just five years, while the number of prisoners has risen to levels officially approaching ‘overcrowding’.

In 2009, there were more staff employed at the prison than there were prisoners. On May 1, 2006, there were 435 staff employed at Magilligan Prison. In 2014, that total had reduced to 295.

While the number of staff had fallen by 140 in the period 2009 to 2014, the number of prisoners in Magilligan had increased.

In 2009, there were 401 prisoners in Magilligan. In 2014, there were 566 - an increase of 165.

The figures were released by Northern Ireland Justice Minister David Ford in response to written requests from East Londonderry MP Gregory Campbell.

Mr Campbell asked the Minister at the beginning of June for the number of “Prison Service staff employed at Magilligan Prison in 2009 and 2014”.

Mr Ford said: “The number of staff employed in Magilligan Prison in each of the years requested is: (i) 435; and 295. These figures are a snapshot as at 1 May in each year.”

The Justice Minister answered a further query from Mr Campbell this week. The East Londonderry MP asked Mr Ford to “detail the number of prisoners in Magilligan Prison on 1 May in each year since 2009.”

The Sentinel recently revealed that the jail population in Magilligan is pushing the limit of the prison service’s own measure of how many inmates it can safely and decently accommodate.

Last year Magilligan was just ten prisoners short of becoming overcrowded.

But the situation is better than that prevailing up the road in Maghaberry, which has been officially overcrowded for the past three years.

Figures from the Justice Minister showed that Magilligan was just ten inmates shy of the Certified Normal Accommodation figure for the jail.

The prison population has grown consistently since 2009, figures show.