Denude & Delay

Guest writer Pauline Mellon with a piece on the ongoing policy of harassment and degradation that is in place at Maghaberry Prison. 

Over the past three years we have heard of the brutal strip search procedure that still exists in prisons here in the north of Ireland. To my knowledge an agreement brokered in 2010 promised the implementation of a body scanner which would remove the need for the humiliation of strip searching: a body scanner similar to those used in other prisons and in many airports in this post 9/11 society. The first scanner to be tested was rejected because it failed tests according to the Northern Ireland Prison Service and so this degrading and humiliating treatment continues.

On Saturday September 14th I attended the launch of the Dublin Anti-Internment Committee. One of the speakers on the panel gave an account of the current strip search procedure. When I arrived home I emailed MLA Pat Ramsey to inquire why a scanner has yet to be introduced. Pat sent me this response from the Department of Justice.

The Northern Ireland Prison Service submitted its Justification Application on behalf of the Department of Justice to the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), in May 2013. In compliance with the legislation surrounding the Justification of Practices involving Ionising Radiation Regulations 2004, DECC have a co-ordination role in this process and have established a Justification Liaison Group (JLG). The JLG met in London, on 21 August 2013 to consider the NIPS Application. This meeting was chaired by a representative from the National Offender Management Service (NOMS) and included representatives of the Health and Safety Executive, the Office for Nuclear Development, the Food Standards Agency, the Welsh Executive, Health Protection Agency and NIPS.

The meeting agreed that the NIPS Justification Application was similar, but not identical, to existing practices employed by the United Kingdom Borders Agency (UKBA). However, because the UKBA practice pre-dated the enactment of the 2004 legislation and had never been subject to a full justification process, it is likely that they will subject the NIPS Application to further scrutiny before coming to a final determination. My Officials and I await the written determination from this Group which will show what further information, if any, may be required from NIPS should a full justification process prove necessary and the time scale within which this will take place.


  1. Pauline:

    The bottom €,$,£, is, they don't want to install them.

    They thrive on degrading Republican POW's , keeping them Inside without charge is another British Secret Evidence scheme as well.

    There is nothing stopping them purchasing the most up to date one, They have the funds to do so, from The EU.

  2. I asked the question at the time ,did the prison service for norn iorn try switching the machines on before they tested them,the degrading effects of strip searching as I pointed out on Saturday at that meeting a cara effects not only the women prisoners but also the men,Dee Fennel,s no holds bared description left all attending in no doubt whatsoever just how humiliating and degrading this practice really is,and as we hear these are filmed ,now as Marie suggested every time a prisoner is strip searched which could be twice or more especially if travelling to court and back ,a formal complaint should be made involving the psni and a formal request for the film of these searches , it could be effective in that the cost and time involved will either be so prohibitive that it could well speed up the introduction of these scanners, or at the very least give some small comfort to anyone who has to endure this outdated and disgusting practice .it is unbelievable that those who have got themselves elected on the back of struggle including prison issues ie .quisling $inn £eind are it seems quite content to sit back and let this issue fade from memory ,it has been at least six months since there was any furore over this particular issue, the silence from people who should be to the front in this human rights issue is deafening, we not only fail the prisoners but ourselves by not speaking out on this basic human rights issue and that is the right to respect and dignity.

  3. Pauline,

    good to this type of information fed intop the public domain. Any excuse to delay.

  4. The application was submitted in August 2013! This is a full three years after the agreement reached between the prisoners and the administration. Last year a machine was piloted at Magilligan and Hydebank with negative results. The NIPS claimed at the time that the machine failed to detect almost 50% of all objects passed through it. It makes one wonder what the machine was designed to do? Perhaps it was a household appliance rather than a state-of-the-art piece of kit.

    The pilot scheme was conducted by the NIPS itself, using members of staff and prisoners as guinea pigs. The was no independent monitoring of the process nor assessment of
    the data. Piss down my back and tell me it's raining. A true cynic would smell a rat.

    Hundreds of strip searches later and the prisoners are no further on. Today men and women are still being forced the floor and stripped naked by screws in protective clothing every time they enter and exit the prison. This has been going on for three years now. Nobody, but nobody, has been able to do a blind thing about it. Countless party delegations, church dignitaries, the ombudsman, even the facilitators to the agreement are powerless when up against the mighty NIPS.

    A fucking disgrace!

  5. Alec,

    it is means to control and degrade, nothing else. It is on a par with Stop and Search on the streets: done for no reason other than to demonstrate the malign power of the searcher over the searched.

  6. Do these people think everyone is thick?.

    Baroness Manningham-Buller, director-general at MI5 between 2002 and 2007, told the Lords that presenting classified information in open court would put the lives of secret agents at risk, while at the same time compromising state-of-the-art technology used by the security services.

    Sleepers at that grand old hotel "House of lords caused an upset.

    Ministers believe they are wasting millions of pounds of taxpayers' money on settling claims, some of which may have no merit, because it is unable to contest them as the evidence it would wish to produce is top-secret.

    WTF has secret agents have to do with Claims.

    House of Lords rejects plans for secret courts

  7. Anthony it is indeed nothing other than the act of the bully,but like all bullies a cara it will take a determined effort on all our parts to stand up to this unacceptable and unnecessary practice to have this stopped, when I say all I mean all especially those elected to represent us ,they must be told in no uncertain terms that this disgusting practice carried out in the main by bigoted thugs ,who we pay must stop ,they must not be allowed to carry out this human rights abuse in our name or in some warped sense that its in the interest of peace or justice,when we have as we do here one section of the community and it seems that the most bigoted from within that community ie., the orange order are in charge of the prisons which has a sizeable section of political motivated republican prisoners then the potential for abuse is almost certain,quisling $inn £eind and Justice minister Ford are only to aware of this and its incumbent on them and indeed all of us to pursue a resolution asap. bullies a cara are only bullies as long as they are allowed to be.they have control we must ensure that their abuse of this control is halted and that prisoners are treated in a humane manner.I urge all to write to their MLA,s and MP ,s and Justice minister Ford demanding an end to this unnecessary abuse .