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Heartening changes at Hydebank

Three years ago, an official report was highly critical of the regime at Hydebank Wood prison for women and young male offenders in south Belfast.

It was a bleak assessment, highlighting the need for `fundamental and radical change' and could only have resulted in serious concern for the welfare of both staff and inmates.

There will be huge relief that the latest visit to the complex by a team of inspectors has concluded that a major shift in ethos has taken place, with positive developments on a range of fronts.

Some issues have still to be resolved, but all those who have helped to create safer structures and encourage effective educational programmes deserve considerable praise.

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