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HMP MAGHABERRY Prison Regime Info


17 Old Road Ballinderry Upper County Antrim BT28 2PT

Phone No.

028 92611888

Governor / Director

Pat Maquire (acting)


High Security


Northern Ireland

Operational Capacity


Cell Occupancy


Listener Scheme


First Night Centre


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Maghaberry is a modern high security prison housing adult male long term sentenced and remand prisoners, in both separated and integrated conditions.

Immigration detainees are accommodated in the Prison's Belfast facility.


Because of recent problems at Maghaberry there is to be a complete review of the regime at Maghaberry. It is due to report in the autumn (2010) and is to be led by Dame Anne Owers, the retired Chief Inspector of Prisons.


The male accommodation currently comprises six cell blocks: Bann, Erne, Foyle and Lagan each with 108 cells divided into 6 units of 18 and two new accommodation blocks, Bush and Roe, which can each house 96 prisoners in single cell accommodation. The two new blocks, built at a cost of approximately £9 million, are modelled on the design of HMP Full Sutton near York in England. The new blocks each comprise two wings of 48 cells and feature wide landings leading from a central administration area, which allows for easier supervision of inmates.

Other features of Bush and Roe include a modern smoke extraction system, facilities for evening education classes and three on-site interview rooms. There are also fully equipped laundry facilities, multi-purpose gymnasium facilities and medical treatment rooms.

All cells in the prison have integral sanitation and all prisoners may rent an in-cell TV as a privilege.

All adult males entering the prison system will be committed to Maghaberry. All new committals, those awaiting transfer to Magilligan, fine defaulters and vulnerable prisoners are held in Lagan house.

Currently remand prisoners are accommodated in Bush and Roe. Erne house accommodates the majority of the life sentence prisoners in Maghaberry with Bann housing all other sentenced inmates.


Association takes place in the evenings, at weekends or during designated holidays.

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A fully equipped gymnasium provides a wide range of activities and includes a weights room as well as main sports hall which can accommodate a full size indoor tennis court. There are also two grass and two all-weather sports pitches.

Astro turf pitches for the use of separated prisoners were opened in 2005.

Prisoners undertake a wide range of accredited programmes in the gymnasium including weightlifting and First Aid qualifications.

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Maghaberry's library is located in the Education department and is staffed by two full time officers, and is open every day except Sunday.

It carries a stock of around 7000 books, also a selection of talking books, CD's, video's, cassettes and DVD's.

Remand prisoners can borrow up to two books at any one time.

Sentenced prisoners can borrow up to six books at any one time.

DVD's are a privilege for enhanced prisoners and they can borrow two at any one time.

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Chaplaincy in NI Prisons

Each prison establishment has a number of chaplains who provide for the spiritual guidance of prisoners and other members of the prison community.

Key elements

Chaplains in Northern Ireland are appointed by the Justice Minister after having been nominated for the various posts by the Governing Authority of their respective churches.

Chaplains carry out a wide range of duties. In addition to providing pastoral care for prisoners on a one-to-one basis they also conduct weekly services and on occasions officiate at weddings and christenings within the prison. Chaplains also arrange religious study classes and when necessary visit the families of prisoners. They are involved in the prisoner induction programme and other prisoner programmes.

Five churches are represented in each prison: Roman Catholic, Church of Ireland, Presbyterian, Free Presbyterian and Methodist. Muslim inmates are attended by the imam.

Chaplains association
In the late 1960's chaplains in Northern Ireland formed an Association to look after their own interests. Members of the Chaplains Committee meet on a regular basis with Governors and Headquarters' officials to discuss issues and problems. An annual conference for all chaplains is organised in collaboration with the Chaplains Association.

Examples of good practice
The prison service has a duty to provide for the pastoral needs of prisoners of other faiths and a register of pastors and ministers of minority faiths, willing to provide pastoral care for prisoners, is maintained. When the need arises, prisoners registered as other faiths for which no chaplains are appointed, may on request receive a visit from a Pastor or Minister of their own religion.


Maghaberry Chaplaincy say;

"No matter how pleasant the surroundings prison can be an unpleasant place. The prison chaplains are here to show prisoners that, no matter what the crime, it does not mean that God has given up on the offender. There are chaplains for Church of Ireland, Free Presbyterian, Methodist, Presbyterian and Roman Catholic prisoners. Arrangements can be made for those of other denominations or religions.

"Basically the prisoner is in jail because he/she has been charged with breaking the law of the land. Whether that's true or not, each person has broken the law of God and stands guilty before Him. "There is no one righteous, not even one" (Romans 3:10). That's the bad news. Prison is a form of punishment and nobody likes to be punished. But time in prison also gives you time to think. This is where the good news comes in. The prison chaplain is there to listen to the prisoner, to befriend him/her, to discuss spiritual matters like sin and guilt, as well as family relationships, helping the prisoner to face up to time in jail. Most important of all, he is there to point the prisoner to Christ and His Word, to His costly mercy and forgiveness.

Worship Services:

Lord's Day, 9a.m. (Free Presbyterian)
Lord's Day, 2.30p.m. (other Protestant denominations)
Saturday evening or Lord's Day in individual houses (Roman Catholic mass)
Women's prison:

Lord's Day, 9.15a.m. (Protestant)
Saturday evening (Roman Catholic mass)
If a prisoner is serious about applying the Word of God to his life there are Bible studies which take place in some of the houses. A class is ongoing in Education for committed Christians and we (chaplain and Prison Fellowship) hope to start a class for those inquiring about Christianity. The chaplains are also on hand for confidential personal contact and counsel.

As a prisoner would leave the prison at the end of his time here it is our desire that that person may leave his sinful past behind and go out changed for the better. Only Jesus can really set the prisoner free."

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"HM Prison Maghaberry are committed to providing the highest standards of healthcare to prisoners in their care in partnership with the South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust. Healthcare for prisoners at HM Prison Maghaberry is provided by an experienced team of dedicated staff who provide a healthcare service for prisoners 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

"The healthcare team is committed to the task of bringing the values and methods of community based healthcare to the secure setting with a professionalism and commitment that lays the foundations for improved services and care.

"The healthcare team is made up of qualified nurses, healthcare officers and health care assistants who all partake in continuous professional development.

"The Inpatient Unit within the Healthcare Centre at HM Prison Maghaberry will shortly undergo a period of major refurbishment and modernisation. Clinics and consultations for prisoners are held daily by healthcare staff in each of the accommodation blocks, the committal unit and also within the healthcare centre."

Specialist Clinics

  • Audiologist
  • Dentist
  • Diabetes
  • Doctors
  • Mental Health Support
  • Nurse triage
  • Optician
  • Pharmacist
  • Physiotherapist
  • Podiatrist
  • Psychiatrist
  • Radiographer
  • Smoking Cessation
  • Vaccinations 

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The Education Department provides prisoners with the opportunity to work for a range of courses from basic through to Open University level.

A broad range of subjects are studied including mathematics, French, Spanish Irish, history, sociology, computer studies, art drama and sign language.

A number of prisoners are currently enrolled with the Open University and these prisoners, together with others engaged in higher level courses, are allowed 3 days per week study time.

An open learning facility has also been launched recently. Basic education is also provided to patients in the psychiatric unit. In total around 100 male prisoners are involved in the education programme at Maghaberry.

The education block is home for Maghaberry's Braille unit which employs up to 12 prisoners five days per week. Many organisations make use of the facility to transcribe books, examination papers, annual reports, legislation and music into Braille.

Maghaberry is considered the leading facility in the British Isles and Europe for transcribing diagrams and 3-D models.



OFSTED inspect education establishments from schools to colleges to prisons. They inspect education facilities within prisons and have inspected Maghaberry


Click Here for further information on how inspection judgements are made.

Scope of the inspection
In deciding the scope of the inspection, inspectors take account of the provider’s most recent self-assessment report and development plans, and comments from the local Learning and Skills Council (LSC) or other funding body. Where appropriate, inspectors also consider the previous inspection report , reports from the inspectorates’ monitoring visits, and data on learners and their achievements over the period since the previous inspection.



Last Inspection Date: 17/05/2002


Click Here to download the report


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There are extensive vocational training opportunities including bricklaying, catering, joinery, information technology, braille and wheelchair refurbishment. Prisoners are allocated to vocational training and all other work locations by a Labour Allocation Board.

The prison's instructors are all highly competent and qualified in their occupational areas and are committed to delivering training of the highest quality. All courses are subject to inspection by external bodies to ensure that the the prison is delivering quality, up to date programmes.

During his/her induction programme, prisoners are visited by the workshop activities manager who makes them aware of what is available and how to apply for the various sources.

The following courses are available in Maghaberry:
Carpentry and Joinery

On this programme inmates are trained in the use of hand tools, portable tools and woodworking machinery. Accredited courses include the City & Guilds testing programme and the Intermediate Constructive Certificate (NVQ)

Furniture Craft Practice

Again the programme includes training in the use of hand tools and portable tools as well as specialist machinery. This course is NVQ accredited to Level II.

Mechanical engineering

This is a multi-skilled course providing training in bench fitting, turning, milling grinding and CNC programming. The programme covers all aspects of mechanical engineering and can be geared to meet individual needs for future employment. The course is accredited to NVQ Level II.

Painting and decorating

The training programme includes the preparation of surfaces for many types of decoration, use of hand tools, portable tools and machinery relating to this trade. Inmates successfully completing this course may obtain a place in the prison's paint squad. Qualifications which can be taken include: City & Guilds 6091 Skills Testing Certificate, Intermediate Construction Certificate, NVQ Level II.


Training is this area is flexible allowing inmates to progress at their own pace. On completion of the basic skills programme, prisoners will have gained the confidence in a number of bricklaying skills. Many inmates progress from the basic programme to complete a construction certificate (NVQ). This is a popular workshop with prisoners. Contact with former trainees has demonstrated that undertaking this training can open up opportunities for employment.


Prisoners taking this programme will gain skills and knowledge in the following areas: taking cuttings, growing from seed, potting on, landscaping, creating flowering tubs and baskets. Candidates can take the following qualifications: City & Guilds Skills Testing Certificate at NVQ II.


Training is given in the use of basic and specialist machinery to allow you gain skills in cutting, shaping, forming templates and patterns relating to the manufacture of textile products. This area is NVQ accredited through the Clothing and Training Services.

Garment production

On completion of their training inmates will be competent in the use of specialist garment production machinery ie the overlocker, electrical and manual looms as well as in the pressing and cutting of garments. Examples of products manufactured are: scarves, pullovers and cardigans. As with the textiles course this one is also accredited through the Clothing and Training Services.

Braille production

In the braille workshop inmates begin their training by learning to produce braille on the Perkins manual brailler which usually takes between 3-6 months. After this time they will take a braille proficiency exam and if successful become a qualified braillist. Afterwards they will then begin to produce braille on a computer and will gain word processing, computer graphics and basic desktop publishing skills. The Braille unit produces braille for the Royal National Institute for the Blind and Jordanstown School for the Blind. Other projects have also been undertaken for the Shetland Island Education Board and individuals in Canada and Sweden.

Information technology

This course aims to train candidates in the proficient use of: word processing, spreadsheets, databases, computer graphics, desktop publishing, presentations and computer literacy. Qualifications which can be taken include: Computer Literacy and Information Technology (CLAIT), Integrated Business Technology Stage II (IBT II) and European Computer Driving Licence (ECDL). Computer aided design is also available to some candidates who meet the course requirements.

Laundry services

The laundry services all prison establishments in Northern Ireland. It also serves the community by laundering bed linen for incontinence sufferers on behalf of the charity, Bryson House.

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A multi-disciplinary team consisting of prison officers, probation and psychology staff together with outside agencies offer a range of programmes to assist prisoners take responsibility for their offending behaviour.

A wide range of group programmes are delivered:
Sex Offenders Treatment Programme

Enables sex offenders to understand the factors which contributed to their offending and to develop strategies that will reduce the risk of re-offending on release.

Alcohol Education

To educate inmates on the effects of alcohol on the individual, their health and their relationships with others.

Alcohol Awareness

A programme to test participants realisation of how alcohol has taken over their lives and to enable them to develop coping strategies so that they can avoid high risk situations in which they drink again.

Drugs Education

Similar in format and content of the Alcohol Education programme.

Drugs Awareness

A programme in which inmates can discuss offending behaviour cycles and identify trigger points in their own lives which may have led them to use drugs or commit offences in order to feed their own habit. Coping strategies are developed in order to help the individual avoid high risk situations in which they may use drugs again.

Stress & Relaxation

Developed primarily to help inmates cope with life in prison.

Anger Management

Developed to enable participants cope with episodes of anger, whether verbal, physical or otherwise. The programme seeks to create empathy with the victims of their aggression.

Enhanced Thinking Skills

A programme designed to enable participants to stop and consider their own thoughts and the consequences of acting on impulse, use more creative thinking and to work out the gains and losses of whatever decision they choose to make.


To enable iprisoners to relate to their own children and family members.

Deniers Information Group

A group aimed at sex offenders who deny their offending. It helps to inform such prisoners about Sex Offender Treatment


Designed to help long -term prisoners begin the process of returning to society.


Designed to enable participants to deal with their inter-personal relationships including that between officer and prisoner.


Family Days Available


Guardian Has To Stay


Own Children




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Parliamentary Information
MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT: Jeffrey Donaldson (Democratic Unionist Party)

Prisoners may write to either their ‘Home MP’ or the MP in whose constituency their current prison lies.
The address to write to is:
House of Commons, London SW1A 0AA



This service operates at this prison. Email a Prisoner enables you to send messages to prisoners, in the UK and Irish prisons that operate the service, from any computer, without any of the hassles of writing and posting a letter, and it costs less than a second class stamp!

Your message is delivered to the prison within seconds so that it can be delivered to the prisoner by the prison staff in the next delivery.

It is free to sign up to Email a Prisoner and only takes a few seconds - all you need is an email address (EMaP can help you if you don't have an email address).

Once a member you will be able to send a message to any prisoner in the UK or Ireland, provided you know their prisoner number, from just 25 pence per message.

Click Here for link to Email a Prisoner website

Criminal Justice Inspection Northern Ireland


The CJI carry out regular inspections of Northern Ireland's prisons in liaison with Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Prisons.

CJI’s inspection reports are comprehensive and authorative and work to improve the system and ensure Northern Ireland’s criminal justice system and the agencies it inspects are innovative and working to a world class standard.


Click Here to download the latest inspection report on Maghaberry (unannounced full follow-up inspection 19 – 23 January 2009)



Maghaberry and Magilligan Prisons and Hydebank Wood Young Offenders Centre and Prison each have an Independent Monitoring Board (IMB), (formally known as the Board of Visitors).

Members of each IMB are drawn from the general public. IMB members act as independent observers of all aspects of the prison regime and as such have free access at all times to the prison to which they are appointed. The work is voluntary and unpaid.
A rota of IMB members ensures that each prison is visited on a weekly basis.

If a prisoner has a request or problem they have an entitlement, under the Prison Rules, to speak with a member of the IMB.

What the IMB do?
An IMB is appointed for each prison in Northern Ireland under the Prison Act (Northern Ireland) 1953. The IMB deal with a variety of issues and are required to:
> satisfy themselves regarding the treatment of prisoners, the state of the prison premises and the facilities available to prisoners to allow them to make purposeful use of their time;
> consider requests and complaints made by prisoners
> report matters of concern to the appropriate Governor and when necessary to the Justice Minister
> examine the treatment of prisoners including provision for their health care and other welfare while in prison
> ensure they are informed and visit prisoners on restriction of association
> attend some Adjudications of prisoners who have been charged with an offence against Prison Rules.

If a prisoner wishes to speak with a member of the IMB they can:
> ask their class officer to have their name put in the Applications Book and contact the Secretariat. No need to give a reason. The Secretariat will arrange for a member of the IMB to visit them when they are next in the prison
> speak directly to an IMB Member when they meet them in the prison during rota visits
> write a letter in confidence to the IMB
> telephone the IMB Secretariat on 028 9044 3998. The Secretariat will arrange for a member of the IMB to visit them when they are next in the prison.

Each IMB produces an annual report about the prison.

Click Here to download the latest Annual Report on (2008/09)  March 2010

Click Here to view the IMB website

Information in this section has been kindly provided by the individual prison and the Ministry of Justice. This is supplemented with information from various government websites, Inspectorates and IMB reports and specialist departments within the Prison Service, government, and regional assemblies/parliaments.
Some of the data is published retrospectively: IMBs/Visiting Committees publish their reports up to 6 months after the end of the reporting period and at different times throughout the year, HMCIP publish their reports up to 6 months after the inspection. Population and performance figures are the latest published but can be considerably out of date.
Please Note: Information is constantly changing: The information on our website is regularly checked but if you have additional information, or if you believe that any of our information is incorrect or any links appear to fail please click on ‘Contact’, below.
Before acting upon any information you are advised to contact the prison directly to ensure there have been no recent changes.

Last Update: May 2011

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