§ Mr. Alton
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (1) if he will make a statement on the reasons for the shortfall of prisoners in Maghaberry prison, in the light of general prison overcrowding;
(2) why Maghaberry prison will, by mid-February, after a build-up, have a shortfall of 332 prisoners.
§ Mr. Stanley
The overcrowding which occurs in many prisons in England and Wales is not a feature of Northern Ireland prisons. The current build-up of the prisoner population at Maghaberry began in November 1987 with the initial aim of having one of its four houses occupied with around 100 inmates by mid-February 1988. The build-up will continue, but because of the need to relocate staff and to give careful consideration to which prisoners should be transferred, full occupancy has to be phased in over a period.