Make a complaint to prison service

The Northern Ireland Prison Service complaints procedure is available for use by both prisoners and visitors. All complaints are investigated and dealt with confidentially.

Reasons for a complaint

A prisoner or visitor to one of Northern Ireland's prisons may make a complaint about:

  • their treatment by anyone employed by the Northern Ireland Prison Service
  • the facilities available to them at the prison
  • the cleanliness and adequacy of prison premises

Making a complaint

There are different ways to make a complaint depending on whether you are a prisoner, former prisoner or a visitor to the prison.

All complaints must be made within 21 calendar days of the incident which forms the basis of the complaint.

If you are a visitor, you will need to complete a Visitor complaint form. These forms are available at all visitors' centres, the visits reception complex or from the family liaison officers.

Alternatively you can download a visitor complaint form here.

If needed, a member of prison staff, the Quakers or NIACRO staff can help you fill it in. 

Your completed form should be placed in the complaints post box at each prison. The visitor's centre staff or prison staff can tell you where to find these boxes.

You may also complete the form at home and either hand it in on your next visit or return it by post.

If you wish to send your complaint by post, you should address the envelope for the attention of The Prison Visits Manager, using the address details below.

Maghaberry Prison
Old Road
Ballinderry Upper
BT28 2PT
Magilligan Prison
Point Road
Hydebank Wood
Hospital Road

Current and former prisoner complaints

Prisoner complaint forms can be found on all prison landings. You should complete the form and put it in the complaints box, which is also on the landings.

Former prisoners wishing to make a complaint should send it in writing to the Governor of the prison where they were most recently imprisoned.

Investigating your complaint

Your complaint will be investigated by the Prison Service through their Internal Complaints procedure. The Prison service will send you a response within 22 days.

If your complaint relates to the staff or services provided by the visitor's centre, it will be fully investigated by their manager or Head office.

If you're not satisfied by the response

If you are not happy with the response from the Prison Service you can refer your complaint to the Prisoner Ombudsman.

The Prisoner Ombudsman is an independent organisation. Someone from the Ombudsman's office will visit you to discuss your complaint and they will then investigate it, produce a report and send recommendations to the Prison Service.

You can write to the Ombudsman using the address details at the link below.


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