Northern Ireland Prison Service

The Northern Ireland Prison Service is an executive agency of the Department of Justice, the headquarters of which are in Dundonald House in the Stormont Estate in Belfast.[1]

Northern Ireland Prison Service
Agency overview
Formed1 April, 1995
Jurisdictional structure
Operations jurisdictionNorthern Ireland
Legal jurisdictionAs per operations jurisdiction
Governing bodyDepartment of Justice
Constituting instrument
  • Prison Act (Northern Ireland) 1953
Operational structure
Elected officer responsible


It was established as an agency on 1 April 1995. Agency status was re-confirmed following a quinquennial review in 2000. The Prison Service is responsible for providing prison services in Northern Ireland. Its main statutory duties are set out in the Prison Act (Northern Ireland) 1953 and rules made under the Act.

The Prison Service is a major component of the wider criminal justice system and contributes to achieving the system's overall aims and objectives. As the responsible Minister, Minister of Justice accounts to Northern Ireland Assembly for the Prison Service and shares Ministerial responsibility and accountability for the criminal justice system as a whole with the Attorney General . The Prison Service is headed by the Director General. As of August 2009, the Northern Ireland Prison Service employed 1,893 staff.[2]


The Prison Service currently has three operational establishments:

  • HMP Maghaberry: a modern high-security prison housing adult male long-term sentenced and remand prisoners, in both separated and integrated conditions. Immigration detainees are accommodated in the prison's Belfast facility.
  • HMP Magilligan - a medium-security prison housing shorter-term adult male prisoners which also has low-security accommodation for selected prisoners nearing the end of their sentences;
  • HM Prison and Young Offenders' Centre, HMP Hydebank Wood - a medium-to-low-security establishment accommodating male young offenders and all female prisoners (including female immigration detainees).

There is also a staff training facility, the Prison Service College, at Hydebank Wood.[3]

Prison OfficersEdit

Prison Officers operate the prisons and young offenders' centres. They wear a light blue uniform (similar but of a slightly lighter colour to HM Prison Service), consisting of a white shirt, blue tie, blue tunic and trousers (for males) and skirt (for females), black shoes or boots, black gloves and a blue peaked cap, with one style for males and another for females. Medals and a whistle on a chain are worn on the tunics.[4] For everyday use, the tunic may be replaced with a sweater or jacket and skirts with trousers.[5]

Prison Officers may carry weapons and use reasonable force (as sworn constables) to protect people. They carry expandable batons.[6]

Officers killed in the line of dutyEdit

  1. Prison Officer David Black was shot and killed on 1 November 2012 by the New IRA, whilst driving to work.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Prison Service Headquarters." Northern Ireland Prison Service. Retrieved on 30 May 2010.
  2. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 17 July 2011. Retrieved 2011-03-11.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^

External linksEdit