HC Deb 02 June 1992 vol 208 c441W
Mr. McNamara

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will make a statement on events in the female wing of Maghaberry prison on 2 March.

Mr. Mates

Following the receipt of information that a serious breach of security may have occurred, it was necessary to initiate a full search of Mourne house and its inmates.

Difficulties arose on 2 March because a number of prisoners decided to resist the legitimate attempts of staff to undertake the search in accordance with the prescribed procedures for such searches. Because of their resistance it was necessary, physically, to restrain them in order to facilitate the search. This was achieved without serious injury to the prisoners. Two members of the board of visitors and a prison chaplain were present throughout the search.

Full searching is an essential component of prison security policy which is practised not only in the United Kingdom but in the Republic of Ireland, in western European countries and in the USA.