HC Deb 05 June 1986 vol 98 c1079
8. Mr. Peter Bruiruinvels

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland when he last met the Northern Ireland Prison Officers Association; and what subjects were discussed.

Mr. Scott

In view of my day-to-day responsibility for prisons in Northern Ireland, I normally represent my right hon. Friend at meetings with the Northern Ireland Prison Officers Association. I last met National and Northern Ireland Prison Officers' Association representatives on 4 October 1985, when we discussed the future employment of prison officers and their roles; prison regime and operational matters of mutual interest; and the programme for opening Maghaberry prisons and amalgamating both prisons at Maze.

Mr. Bruinvels

Bearing in mind the brave work of the prison officers in Northern Ireland and the sad fact that 24 of them have lost their lives in the past 10 years, may I ask my hon. Friend whether he has increased their protection and security, not just in the prisons, but round their homes, where they are under constant threat of being attacked and beaten up?

Mr. Scott

Where there is evidence of a specific threat, members of the prison service, like police officers and others, receive the full support of the police and the Northern Ireland Office in obtaining protection. I echo my hon. Friend's tribute to prison officers in Northern Ireland for the duty that they undertake on behalf of the whole community there.

Mr. Dickens

Next time my hon. Friend meets the Northern Ireland Prison Officers Association, will he stress that as many of its prisoners are bomb and explosive experts, and that when they escape they may often maim, murder and strike again, they must be more vigilant than any other prison service in the United Kingdom?

Mr. Scott

The Prison Officers Association and prison officers in Northern Ireland need no lectures from me on such matters. They are fully aware of the unique nature of the prison population in Northern Ireland and the threat that prisoners could pose to peace and stability in the Province.