Select Committee on Northern Ireland Affairs Minutes of Evidence

Supplementary Memorandum submitted by Northern Ireland Prison Service


  During the course of our meeting with the Committee on 25 October, I undertook to provide Members with additional factual information on the religious denomination and gender composition of NIPS workforce and examples of payments under the Staff Reduction Programme. This information is attached at Annex A and B respectively.

  Dr Palmer asked us to provide a review of extra costs that cause the difference between our cost per prisoner place and that of England and Wales, the impact of these costs and the extent that they could be addressed.

  Some work was done on this in 1997. At that time the key factors in additional costs in Northern Ireland were identified as follows:

(a)Security-related costs—external gates, fixed posts, towers, escorting
(b)Staff Costs—pay differentials, higher staff-prisoner ratio, greater average length of service, additional superannuation payments, increased training of personnel
(c)Northern Ireland Regime Costs—Longer unlock periods, factional segregation, extra visits
(d)Northern Ireland Specific Costs—Higher fuel tariffs, higher rates bills, outdated design factors of part of the Northern Ireland Prisons Estate
(e)Diseconomies of scale—Headquarters costs, Prison Service College, other specialist posts eg, dog handlers
(f)Other Factors—higher levels of litigation and compensation, greater costs for Probation Services, housing at Millisle, supporting Staff Association events which would otherwise receive private sponsorship.

  We are now embarking on a fresh exercise given changes since 1997 and our target is to reduce the differential in the cost per prisoner place between NIPS and HM Prison Service by 17 per cent by March 2004. This is very complex work given the differences between the Services and the legal and cultural context within which they operate and will take some months. I shall send a copy to the Committee as soon as it is complete.

  Mr Brooke requested figures on the ratio of prison officers to prisoners following the completion of the Staff Reduction Programme and to draw comparisons with the ratio in Scotland and England and Wales. Detailed work on this will form part of the review of comparative costs described above.

8 November 2000

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