The Council of Europe’s Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT) has welcomed recent improvements in various places of detention in Northern Ireland, whilst underlining that further progress is needed in certain areas.
In a report published today, the committee highlighted the “enormous culture change” that has taken place within the Police Service of Northern Ireland since the 1990s. Safeguards against ill-treatment operate satisfactorily, it said, and their application in several police stations might be considered best practice.
The CPT also noted that the prison system in Northern Ireland had been the subject of extensive reform in recent years and prisoner numbers were down. Nevertheless, the committee encouraged the authorities to make further use of alternatives to custody.
With regard to Maghaberry prison, the CPT reported that levels of alleged physical ill-treatment had greatly diminished and most prisoners reported feeling safe. However, despite the wide range of activities on offer, far too many prisoners were effectively confined to their cells for up to 23 hours a day.