Unlocking the past: from conflict to reform in the Northern Ireland Prison Service

Posted by pt91 at Nov 27, 2015 10:33 AM |
Latest Scarman Lecture to take place on 2 December at University of Leicester

Issued by University of Leicester Press Office on 27 November 2015

An experienced prison governor and head of the Northern Ireland Prison Service is to speak on prison reform for the University of Leicester’s Scarman Lecture Series.

Sue McAllister will give her lecture ‘Unlocking the Past – from conflict to reform in the Northern Ireland Prison Service’ on Wednesday 2 December in the Peter Williams Lecture Theatre at the University campus. The lecture is free and open to the public.

The lecture will focus on the challenges of reforming prisons in a post-conflict Northern Ireland. Initially setting the scene by placing prisons in the wider historical and political context, it will then outline the case for the end to end, transformational reform of the Northern Ireland Prison Service.

Some of the notable successes will be discussed, as well as some of the challenges which have been encountered, from within, and beyond, the organisation. Those elements of reform which are not yet complete, or which will form the blueprint for the next Assembly mandate, will then be outlined.

The discussion will be delivered from the perspective of an operational prison practitioner, emphasising the politically charged and high profile environment within which NI Prisons operate.

Sue McAllister was appointed Director General of the Northern Ireland Prison Service (NIPS) in July 2012.

She grew up in South Yorkshire and attended St Andrews University, from where she graduated with a MA in Arabic.  She joined the Civil Service after university and, following three years working in GCHQ in Cheltenham, joined HMPS as an Assistant Governor trainee in 1986.

Sue worked in a variety of roles in prisons in England, including as Governor of HMP Gartree, a prison for adult male life sentenced prisoners, and of HMYOI Onley, which housed juvenile and young adult offenders aged between 15 and 21.  She also worked in policy roles in the Prison Service and the Ministry of Justice and as Head of the Public Sector Bids Unit before leaving what was then the National Offender Management Service in August 2011.

As Director General of NIPS, Sue is the Accounting Officer with responsibility for an operating budget of around £149m and an estate comprising three prison establishments, a Prison Service College and Prison Service Headquarters.  She provides leadership to around 1960 staff.  In 2014, Sue also assumed responsibility for the Youth Justice Agency as Director of a newly formed Reducing Offending Directorate.

Professor Jo Phoenix, Head of the Department of Criminology at the University of Leicester, said: "We are delighted to be welcome Sue McAllister as she gives one of this year's Scarman Lectures. Prison reform, generally, is a very important topic but none more so than when it is taking place within a post-conflict society. I am sure the lecture will be stimulating, informative and will provide some interesting insights into how the world of politics shapes the possibilities for reform."

‘Unlocking the Past – from conflict to reform in the Northern Ireland Prison Service’ takes place on Wednesday 2 December in the Peter Williams Lecture Theatre, University of Leicester. Book your free place at http://www.le.ac.uk/scarman.

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Notes to editors:

For more information contact Amy Costello on arj13@leicester.ac.uk.

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