FORMER Justice Minister MLA Claire Sugden has revealed that plans to refurbish and develop Magilligan prison will be geared towards the rehabilitation of prisoners and a safer environment for staff and inmates.
East Londonderry MLA Claire Sugden met with Magilligan Prison Governor Richard Taylor last week to view development plans.
Speaking exclusively to the Northern Constitution Ms Sugden indicated that new building work on the north coast prison could begin in the next couple of years, subject to capital funding.
Ms Sugden hopes commitment to invest in the prison will see a shift towards the rehabilitation of prisoners.
Ms Sugden said: “I visited Magillgan Prison recently and was pleased to see completion of minor works including a multi faith centre.
“The multi faith centre was recommended by the criminal justice inspectorate in a number of reports spanning several years to aid in rehabilitation of offenders.
“Prison service found the money to build and improve other areas to make the prison more welcoming, particularly for families.
“This indicates investment in the prison and a drive towards approved Ministerial plans to fully refurbish the prison making it safer for staff and prisoners.
“I am pleased the Department of Justice and NI Prison Service are still committed to the new build at Magillgan subject to capital funding.
“They continue to plan for work to begin in the next couple of years.
“As MLA and Minister the new build at Magillgan is something I support to ensure a safe, working environment for staff and prisoners that considers their physical and mental well-being.
“In Northern Ireland, custodial sentences are not indefinite, so offenders will eventually be released into communities.
“The role of prisons is to change their behaviour so hopefully they will not pose a risk to the public by re-offending.
“A new facility helps this aim. A new facility also ensures jobs and business for the area. Moving forward on this project provides benefits for all.”
Plans to erect a new Multi-Faith Facility at Magilligan Prison were submitted by the Northern Ireland Prison Service to Causeway Coast and Glens Council on February 8, 2019.
The submitted planning application reads:
'Erection of new Multi Faith Facility, consisting of single storey building (Approx 7m X 20.5m). External walls to be finished with white coloured rendered, timber double glazed windows and doors, double pitched roof constructed with insulated profile cladding colour 'Wallaby' grey and atrium glazing.'
The Department of Justice were contacted for a comment on plans to develop Magilligan prison, but did not respond by the time of going to press.