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John Semple’s review of The Maze Prison

John Semple's review of The Maze Prison
This book gives an accurate account of events as I recall them and sadly illustrates the dilemma all Northern Ireland Prison Service staff had to endure over the years of Long Kesh and Maze. It also highlights the folly of trying to operate a prison establishment like The Maze, with its highly dangerous convicted criminal population, while ignoring the views of prison professionals.

The narrative presents an excellent case study of how not to repeat this mistake in the future and clearly illustrates that Prison Rules should be enforced without external interference in all establishments. The Maze became different because the Northern Ireland Office felt unable to support staff in enforcing the rules; this led to staff feeling they were totally unsupported. I found events in the latter years of Maze almost unbelievable and, in my opinion, some decisions made at the highest level at that time seem to amount to gross mismanagement! However, I expect that when this book is published the same senior civil servants will still be in denial.

I commend the book.

For full details about the book and to order a copy, please go to The Maze Prison.

You can also read Alan Longwell’s review of The Maze Prison.

John Semple came to Northern Ireland from HM Prison Service in the early 1970s. In his more than 21 years there he served at the highest levels of the service, including at The Maze. He was Principal of the NI Prison Service College, Governor in Charge of HMP Magilligan, Governor in Charge of HMP Belfast (on two occasions) and spent two periods in the NIPS HQ in the role of Deputy Director of Security and Operations. He retired in 1994 as Governor of Belfast Prison.

2 thoughts on “John Semple’s review of The Maze Prison

  1. Where can I obtain a copy of your book? Derek Moffitt

    1. You can order the book via bookshops, from online retailers (including Amazon), and direct from our website at

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