A Northern Irish prisoner sued after getting a sunburn while staging a protest on the roof of Maghaberry Prison two years ago, according to the Belfast Telegraph.
A group of men were on the roof protesting over conditions and it was a very warm day. The prisoner claimed he had been badly sunburnt and needed medical care.
It is not known if the claim was successful as the Prison Service Information cannot release details of specific claims under the Data Protection Act.
It has been revealed that nearly £10,000 a week in compensation has been given to prisoners and prison officers for injuries received in Northern Ireland's jails.
However, it is known, from information obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, that over the past three years more than £1.1m was spent settling 147 claims by prison staff.
About 80 wardens claimed for injuries sustained in accidents or for smoke inhalation from cell fires and 62 staff members received payment for being injured during a violent assault.
And 84 prisoners have received £332,533 in payments from the Northern Ireland Prison Service (NIPS) over the past three years. Fifty inmates claimed for injuries sustained in a fall or through smoke inhalation and 11 inmates received compensation for being hurt during an assault.
The Prison Service has stated that each claim “is assessed on its own merits, with due regard for money and expenses to the public purse."
“Where a claim is considered to be justified, the claims unit applies a ‘Green Book’ or ‘precedent’ approach, based on that used by courts in making judgments about the quantum necessary to settle a particular type of claim,” said an NIPS spokesman.
The spokesman added that the Prison Service recently established a working group “aimed at improving the claims handling process in order to minimise costs to the public purse and to identify risks that can be managed to reduce the likelihood of future claims."
David McNarry MLA has called the amount of money paid out on compensation to staff and prisoners “excessive.”
“It is almost a joke when you hear that people whose job it is to look after the welfare of prisoners end up getting knocked about and injured themselves, physically and mentally. And then we hear about prisoners who seem to have made some money out of being in jail,” he said.
He added: “I’m not saying that the claims are not legitimate but there must be something wrong with the structures in the service when this is allowed to happen.
“The public will be asking what is going wrong. We need every penny we can save and we cannot be throwing it away like confetti.”
However, chairman of the Prison Officers’ Association (POA) Finlay Spratt said these “legitimate claims by staff show the challenging environment” they work in.
“We are entitled to a safe working environment and if officers are injured while on duty then they deserve the same rights to compensation as workers in other sectors. We work in a very volatile situation and officers get injured,” he said.
Justice committee chairman Paul Givan said that the payments “reflect the nature of the job."
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