The Ministry of Home Affairs is to set up a board to issue recommendations for a reorganisation of practices at the prisons. 

The development follows a surprise visit to the prisons by Minister Manuel Mallia on Sunday evening, when he found that  four guards had gone home several hours before their shift ended. However a separate board has been set up to investigate their absence.

A ministry spokesman said the new board will look into issues such as why prisoners' food is supplied by an outside contractor instead of being prepared in the prisons, with the related increased costs and security risks; why  items in the tuck shop cost more than outside the prison; the working conditions and practices of prison guards and the operation of the Forensic Ward as a satellite of the prisons at Mt Carmel Hospital.

The board will be composed of senior policemen, representatives of various ministries and NGOs involved in prison work. Among them will be Assistant Police Commissioner Ray Zammit, George Busuttil from the NGO Mid-Dkam Ghad-Dawl, Permanent Secretary Kevin Mahoney, and Chief of Staff Silvio Xerri.

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