Il rapporto indipendente getta nuove ombre sull’operato delle guardie carcerarie e richiede radicali cambiamenti

Una revisione condotta dall’ex governatore Tony Pearson accusa gli ufficiali di aver accolto con atteggiamento giubilante la prematura dipartita del governatore Steve Rodford chiamato per riformare il carcere di Maghaberry, ma reo di averlo lasciato in condizioni peggiori rispetto al suo arrivo.
Una relazione a parte ha messo in luce carenze in un processo disciplinare che ha portato al licenziamento di 10 guardie carcerarie. Provvedimento che verrà impugnato da tutti e 10 gli ufficiali.
Il procedimento ha avuto origine con la morte per suicidio del prigioniero Colin Bell nel luglio 2008.
L’ultimo rapporto Pearson aveva previsto un trattamento più umano per coloro che soffrono di malattie mentali e quindi suscettibili di comportamenti auto lesivi quali il suicidio.
Sono necessari miglioramenti.
“Crediamo che sia molto importante che il processo non venga protratto ulteriormente e che le azioni sindacali non alterino progressi nei necessari miglioramenti del Northern Ireland Prison Service o del regime carcerario”, recita il rapporto e continua: “E ‘sicuramente tempo che questa annosa questione venga risolta da un giusto processo in modo che tutte le parti possano concentrarsi sull’importante programma di cambiamentoe la fornitura di un efficace servizio pubblico”.

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Damning report calls for Maghaberry changes (U TV)
A damning independent report has blamed prison officers and management for failings at Maghaberry Prison.
A review headed by former governor Tony Pearson accused officers of holding up change, stating some were “openly jubilant” at the early departure of a governor brought in to reform the high-security Co Antrim jail and felt his contribution had left the prison in a worse state than before he arrived.
A separate report has highlighted shortcomings in a disciplinary process that led to 10 prison officers being recommended for dismissal.
They were investigated following the death of Colin Bell at Maghaberry while on suicide watch, who took his own life in July 2008.
The review said: “Now is surely the time for the trades unions to show maturity and vision by adopting a constructive approach to change that will make for more rewarding work for their members and help deliver an effective public service.”
The 10 officers are appealing against the dismissal ruling.
There has been a bitter wrangle between their union and management since the case came to light.
The latest Pearson Review, an update on an earlier investigation, added the landing of the prison which looks after potentially suicidal inmates had encouraged humane treatment of those suffering mental health problems.
‘Necessary improvements’
“We believe that it is very important that the process is not protracted further and that trade union actions do not adversely affect progress on necessary improvements in the Northern Ireland Prison Service or on prisoner regimes,” the review said.
“It is surely time for this long outstanding matter to be settled by due process so that all parties can focus on the important change programme and delivery of an effective public service.”
It added: “The hope expressed in our (earlier) review that the trades unions, including the POA, would work constructively with management to achieve change has not been realised.”
According to today’s report, some members of the Prison Officers’ Association believe any improvements will not be achieved until the centre has its full complement of staff and called for a much slower pace of change.
The review team said: “There appeared to be a continuing emphasis on physical security, with movement around the prison still limited and slow, exacerbated by very complicated procedures for the use of keys and little evidence that dynamic security was being given a higher profile.”
Maghaberry governor Steve Rodford returned to England in mid-December last year. The POA had claimed there was a suitable candidate within the Prison Service in Northern Ireland.
He stayed for only six months, his home address details were found in a dissident republican prisoner’s cell and he returned to England a short time later.
Prison Service director Robin Masefield welcomed progress made since the original Pearson Report six months ago.
‘Adverse impact’
“I cannot condone the current action by the POA which is adversely impacting on prisoners and their families. It will directly frustrate the progress that has already been made at Maghaberry and will jeopardise the plans that management has in place for implementing the outstanding recommendations.
“Nor should it be classified as a removal of goodwill.
“POA members are choosing to perform duties towards prisoners, families and colleagues in a way that risks the safety of others and undermines the rehabilitative work that the public require us to carry out on their behalf.”
POA chairman Finlay Spratt claimed management had not made any constructive proposals for change and that the only plans had come from the union.
“We stand ready to make whatever changes are needed within the terms and conditions of our employment. We support anything improving the life of the people we hold in custody,” he said.


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