On the 17/02/22 I received a report from the Information Commissioners Office (ICO) regarding a number of complaints I had made against the Northern Ireland Prison Service (NIPS).
In the complaints I had raised three issues.
The first was that information I had requested regarding searches of my cell and personal property as not been disclosed and that requests themselves had not been processed appropriately. The ICO and Department of Justice (DOJ) have now recognised that one of my requests had indeed seen mishandled and some of the relevant information has now seen provided. However, some is still outstanding and my intention is to raise this again with the ICO.
The second issue was about a refusal by NIPS to disclose documents relating to prison policies to which I and others are subject. Unfortunately, while it has been recognised that the request was not processed properly, the information remains withheld.
Again I intend to raise this with the ICO. I do cautiously welcome a commitment by the DOJ to just-track new guidance for all its staff in relation to such requests. Hopefully this will ensure appropriate processing in the future.
The third matter I had raised was the NIPS’ prohibition on prisoners corresponding with the ICO in confidence.
At present, any such communication is subjected to the prisons normal censoring process. This has the potential to act as a deterrent and I argued that confidentiality would allow matters to be raised by prisoners without fear or recriminations.
It is understood the DOJ now intends to review this. While evidence is yet to emerge that the DOJs commitment have actually been acted upon, I hope delivery will take place without delay.
John Paul Wootton,