Northern Ireland

NI prisons: Over 800 attacks on inmates since 2013

Maghaberry prison
Image caption Almost half of the attacks took place in Maghaberry prison, which inspectors recently said was "unsafe and unstable" for prisoners and staff.

Prisoners were attacked by other inmates more than 800 times in Northern Ireland jails over the last three years, figures have revealed.

Almost half of the attacks were in the high-security jail, Maghaberry - last year inspectors said it was "unsafe and unstable" for prisoners and staff.

BBC's Nolan Show got the figures from Stormont's Department of Justice.

They show that overall, there were 317 attacks in 2013, 239 the following year, and 267 assaults last year.

The Northern Ireland Prison Service has been trying to address staff and prisoner safety concerns, following a damning report late last year.

'Very worrying'

In November 2015, Maghaberry Prison in County Antrim was labelled the most dangerous ever visited by Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Prisons.

Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) MLA Paul Frew, who sits on the assembly's justice committee, described the number of attacks as a "massive problem".

"It's very, very worrying that we have levels of staff that, first of all, can't control prisoners. Some of these prisoners will be very dangerous, they'll be bullies.

"They will bully other prisoners that are maybe even in for lesser crimes, so it's very important that we get a grip of this issue and we protect our prisoners and our prison staff."

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