The East Belfast MLA said, “The prison population is at its highest for many years, particularly in Maghaberry and Magilligan. This has increased to the extent that old, disused blocks have had to be reopened and some prisoners are sharing cells.
There are a significant number of prisoners within the system who are on remand, and that figure has remained stubbornly high for some time. In 2021-22, almost 80% of all prison committals were remand prisoners and nearly 40% of our prison population were unsentenced prisoners.
All of these delays have knock-on consequences within the prison system and will only be made worse by swingeing cuts to the Justice budget imposed by the Secretary of State. The cuts will have consequences in terms of preventative work which will then be felt in future years within prisons, probation and wider society.”