34 reports of rape or sexual abuse lodged by prisoners

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Prisoners made 34 reports of rape or sexual assault since 2010 with Magilligan jail in Derry the only facility where none were recorded.

The actual rate of sexual abuse in the local jail system could be higher, however, as the figures relate to only those incidents that were officially reported to the Northern Ireland Prison Service (NIPS).

Releasing the details to this paper following a Freedom of Information (FOI) request, NIPS cautioned that prisoners may also have reported alleged assaults directly to the PSNI without prison officials necessarily being made aware.

The vast majority of reports, 28, were made at Maghaberry, with a further six in Hydebank College and Women’s Prison.

There has been a general reduction in the number of “recorded sexual assaults/rapes” at Maghaberry over the six years: from nine in 2010; to five in 2011; to three in 2012; to five in 2013; to three in 2014; to two last year; and to one in 2016 to date.

At Hydebank there were two in 2010; one in 2011; none in 2012; one in 2013; none in 2014; two in 2015; and none in this year to date.

NIPS explained that prisoners can potentially claim sexual assault through their solicitors, staff, Crimestoppers or through a Police Liaison Officer (PLO).

In a statement NIPS added: “If staff are informed of an alleged sexual assault between prisoners/inmates, a policy is followed, which separates the prisoners/inmates and ensures the incident is reported to the PLO/PSNI.

“It is the PSNI that carry out any investigation and who will ascertain through Forensic Medical Officer (FMO) evidential examination, if any assault has taken place.

“Should a prisoner allege sexual assault against a member of staff the Governor is informed and he/she will examine the facts to consider whether it will be necessary to inform the PSNI to request an FMO examination.