Declassified files: Many prison files still closed for decades

There have been 542 files fully opened as part of the declassification of 1987 files.

A further 150 files have been largely opened but with some material redacted (blacked out), while 108 files have been fully closed.

The Maze Prison - many prison-related files remain secret

The Maze Prison - many prison-related files remain secret

The bulk of the fully closed files relate to named prisoners and PRONI said that in most cases the decision to redact related to Section 40 of the Freedom of Information Act, which allows for the withholding of some ‘personal information’.

Among the fully closed files are the following:

• A Department of Agriculture file from 1987 entitled ‘Milk Quota Problem File’ has been closed to 2071 because of ‘personal information’.

• A Central Secretariat file on ‘Civil Disobedience’ which ran from 1986 to 1987 and presumably focused on the anti Anglo-Irish Agreement protests has been fully closed for another 56 years. The closure is due to ‘personal information’ and also ‘health and safety’, an exemption often used by PRONI if it believes that information would lead to an individual’s life being endangered by the release of information.

• A Department of the Civil Service file on ‘Equal Opportunities Commission – Enquiry about Age Limits in Appointments in Administration Scheme’ (1986-1987) has been fully closed due to ‘personal information’.

• A Department of Enterprise, Trade and Industry file (1977-1987) has been closed until 2071. The file, entitled “‘Key Points’ Committee Meetings” has been closed on the grounds of ‘personal information’, information relating to the security services or special forces and ‘health and safety’.

• A Department of Finance and Personnel file entitled ‘Whitley Branch – Conduct of Civil Servants. Political Activities’ which ran from 1975 to 1987 has been closed until 2071 due to ‘personal information’.

• A Department of the Environment file from 1987 entitled ‘Pollution Incidents 1987: Area II: North Down/Ards Peninsula’ has been fully closed due to ‘information provided in confidence’ and information relating to ‘investigations and proceedings conducted by public authorities’.

• A Department of Health file from 1986 and 1987 with the title ‘Water (Fluoridation) Order in Council’ has been withheld until 2066 due to ‘personal information’.

• Among the many NIO prison files fully closed until 2070 because of ‘personal information’ are the following: ‘H.M. Prison Belfast – Incidents’ (1986), ‘Magilligan Prison – Searches and Search Procedure’ (1984-1986), ‘Prison Officers Statistics on Murders – Attacks – Threats Outside Prison Establishments’ (1979-1985), ‘Threats Against Prison Staff’ (1985-1986), ‘Prisons – Medical – Suicides (Prisoners) Attempted and Successful’ (1986), ‘Prisons – Welfare – Welfare Officers at H.M.P. Belfast’ (1984-1986), ‘Prisons – Incidents – Police Investigation in Alleged Assaults by Prison Officers’ (1986), ‘Prisons – Inmate – Named Individual’ (1971-1987).

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