Some prisons are suspending visits

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Latest checked: 21st October 2020

ALL VISITS STOPPED AT HMP STAFFORD DETAILS OF STOPPED VISITS >>

ALL VISITS STOPPED AT HMP LOW NEWTON DETAILS OF STOPPED VISITS >>

ALL VISITS STOPPED AT HMP WORMWOOD SCRUBS DETAILS OF STOPPED VISITS >>

ALL VISITS STOPPED AT HMP NOTTINGHAM DETAILS OF STOPPED VISITS >>

ALL VISITS STOPPED AT HMP LOWDHAM GRANGE DETAILS OF STOPPED VISITS >>

ALL VISITS STOPPED AT HMP LIVERPOOL DETAILS OF STOPPED VISITS >>

ALL VISITS STOPPED AT HMP ALTCOURSE DETAILS OF STOPPED VISITS >>

ALL VISITS STOPPED AT HMP LOWDHAM GRANGE DETAILS OF STOPPED VISITS >>

 


 

First publication – Monthly statistics providing data of COVID-19 in HM Prison and Probation Service in England and Wales.

HM Prison and Probation Service COVID-19 Statistics, August 2020


HM Prison and Probation Service COVID-19 Statistics, Data to 31 August 2020 >>

HM Prison and Probation Service COVID-19 Statistics, Data to 31 July 2020 >>

 


24th July 2020
As prisons and YOI’s gradually reopen for visits there are rules that need to be followed as set out below.

Prisons in England and Wales will now be opening when they decide it is safe for visitors. Find out which prisons have social visits. If you are travelling from a different part of the country, for example from England to Wales, you must follow the relevant health advice of the country you are travelling to.

Staying safe

You should not visit anyone in a prison if you or anyone in your household visiting with you:

  • are showing any COVID-19 symptoms
  • are self-isolating because someone in your household has been unwell with COVID-19
  • have been asked to isolate by the Test & Trace service (England) or Test, Trace, Protect service (Wales)
  • have been in close contact with anyone recently who has COVID-19 symptoms or is self-isolating
  • are living in a local area with enhanced community restrictions (or lockdown)

Who can visit an adult prison

To visit someone in an adult prison, you must be:

  • aged 18 or over, or under 18 accompanied by an eligible adult (see Visiting an adult prison, YOI or STC in a group – see below)
  • a partner, parent, sibling, child, foster-parent, grandparent, carer or significant other of the person you are visiting, or an individual on whom the person in prison relies on for emotional support

Who can visit a young offender institute (YOI) or secure training centre (STC)

To visit someone in a YOI or STC, you must be:

  • aged 18 or over, or under 18 accompanied by an eligible adult (see Visiting an adult prison, YOI or STC in a group – see below)
  • a partner, parent, sibling, child, foster-parent, grandparent, carer or significant other of the person you are visiting, an individual on whom the person in YOI or STC relies on for emotional support, or a social worker for looked after children (LAC)
  • an adult, though not the parent, who is part of the same household as the parent of the dependent child

To note, siblings who are classed as LAC may need a social worker to attend with them.

Visiting an adult prison, YOI or STC in a group

The following rules apply:

  • 1 adult can visit a prisoner with up to 1 other adult
  • if you’re the only adult visiting, you can bring up to 2 children
  • if you’re visiting with another adult, you can only bring 1 child
  • all visitors must live together in the same household except if you are parents of a prisoner and you live apart

New visiting rules

During your visit you must:

  • follow all prison COVID-secure guidelines and measures to ensure your, the prisoners’ and staff safety, following advice from prison staff as necessary
  • stay over 2 metres away from other people during your visit, with no physical contact allowed, except with regard to adults and/or children who are with you visiting the prison
  • wear a face covering, although you must remove it if staff want to carry out security checks

You cannot bring any refreshments to a prison, except if you are bringing food or milk for a baby. You can ask staff for water. Play facilities will not be available at any prison.


24th July 2020

HM Prison and Probation Service COVID-19 Statistics, Data to 17 July 2020 >>

21st July 2020

New limited visits start at Wetherby


11th July 2020 Some prisons have restarted visits! 

Visits have restarted at HMP Risley and also HMP Humber as shown below.

We expect more to follow in the coming days and will keep you informed via our News Desk

HMP Risley

HMP Risley is offering limited visits for family and friends.

  • Monday-Thu: morning and afternoon visits.
  • Friday: morning visits only.

Specific visiting times are given upon booking.

You can book by telephone only. We are not currently accepting online bookings.

Booking Line: 01925 733284 or 01925 733285

The booking line is open Monday-Friday: 9.00 am – 16.00pm

HMP Humber
  • Monday: from 13.30pm
  • Wednesday: from 13.30pm
  • Friday: from 13.30pm

You can book by telephone only. We are not currently accepting online bookings.

Booking Line: 0300 0606606

Monday-Friday: 9.00 am – 12.00pm


Prisons inspectors were concerned about the impact of prolonged severe regime restrictions in three category C men’s prisons and found that even modest local initiatives to allow more time out of cell were frustrated by national guidelines and the concerns of staff associations. HM Inspectorate of Prisons conducted short scrutiny visits on 16 June at HMP Maidstone, HMP Onley and HMP/YOI Brinsford, the second set of such visits to category C prisons in the COVID-19 period Peter Clarke, HM Chief Inspector of Prisons, said that little had changed since the first set of visits, to three different category C prisons, on 5 May. “Managers had taken effective measures to contain the spread of COVID-19 and were maintaining regime restrictions.”  More >>


SSV Category C Prisons


26th June 2020:The HM Prison and Probation Service COVID-19 official statistics release provides data on the HMPPS response to COVID-19. It addresses confirmed cases of the virus in prisons and the Youth Custody Service, deaths across HMPPS service users and mitigating action being taken to limit the spread of the virus and save lives.

Data includes:

  • Deaths among prisoners, children in custody and probation service users where COVID-19 is suspected to be the cause.
  • Prisoners released early from custody under End of Custody Temporary Release and compassionate release in light of COVID-19.
  • Confirmed COVID-19 cases in prisoners and children in custody
  • Narrative on capacity management data for prisons.

This is the first in a weekly release during the pandemic. Further breakdowns of the data will be provided in upcoming official statistics releases including Safety in Custody and Deaths of Offenders in the Community.


Prison social visits in England and Wales

Restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic remain in place. We are working to resume prison social visits when it is safe to do so. Visit this page for updates.

There are a number of other ways to contact someone in prison if you are unable to visit them. For example you might be able to leave a voice message using the Prison Voicemail Service or send them an email using the email a prisoner service. You can also write to them.

As a temporary measure, secure phone handsets will be given to prisoners at 55 prisons allowing risk-assessed prisoners to speak to a small number of pre-authorised contacts.

There are also a number of other helplines that can provide guidance.

Secure video calling has been introduced in some prisons and young offender institutions (YOIs) across England and Wales with a wider rollout in the coming weeks. Video calls are free for both prisoners and their families while we are dealing with the Covid-19 outbreak. Find out which prisons and institutions have video calling.

What we are doing to keep people safe in prisons

Prisons have been working closely with public health and NHS services to put robust contingency plans in place. The plans prioritise the safety of staff, prisoners and visitors.

Existing, well-developed procedures are in place to manage outbreaks of infectious diseases and prisons are prepared if cases are identified. Plans are in place for dealing with staff absences if staff working in prisons need to self-isolate.

Handwashing facilities are available to prisoners, staff and visitors and we have worked closely with suppliers to ensure the supply of soap and cleaning materials.

Risk-assessed prisoners who are within two months of their release date will be temporarily released from prison, as part of the national plan to protect the NHS and save lives.

Changes to regimes

The usual regime in prisons has been paused temporarily to apply social distancing. This is vital for keeping prisoners and staff safe and preventing the spread of the virus.

This means prisoners can no longer take part in usual recreational activities such as using the gym, going to worship or visiting the library.

Only essential workers such as kitchen staff or wing cleaners will continue with their jobs but people will still get paid.

Support for prisoners, such as advice on in-cell worship, exercise and managing anxiety will be provided.

If you are a friend or relative of a prisoner and want to know how this affects prison regimes, see Coronavirus: Q&A for friends and family of prisoners. We will continue to update and answer your frequently-asked questions.

Parole Board hearings and trials

All face-to-face Parole Board hearings and new jury trials have been temporarily suspended. The Parole Board will progress cases through a combination of remote hearings and a paper review process, sometimes combined with case management hearings.

Find out more about trials and Parole Board hearings.

Urgent work is in progress to enable improved contact between people in prison and their legal teams. This includes increasing video conferencing capacity in prisons. We will update this page when we have further information.

How we will update you about the impact of coronavirus on prisons

If there are changes to the general advice for visitors or the operation of the prison system, we will:

  • Update advice on this guidance page
  • Issue updates on Twitter @HMPPS and @MoJGovUK

We also have a range of ways to communicate advice and guidance to people in prison, including National Prison Radio

If you have urgent concerns about someone in prison during the coronavirus outbreak

If you have urgent concerns about someone in prison you should call the prison direct. Contact details are available on the Prison Finder.

Prisoners’ Families Helpline

info@prisonersfamilies.org

Telephone: 0808 808 2003

Monday to Friday, 9am to 8pm

Saturday and Sunday, 10am to 3pm

Find out about call charges

Families Outside Support and Information Helpline

For prisons in Scotland only

support@familiesoutside.org.uk

Telephone: 0800 254 0088

Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm

Saturday and Sunday, Closed


22nd June 2020
Latest Covid figures
Infections all:1458
Staff Deaths: 9
Prisoner Deaths 23

 

12th June 2020: The number of prisoners who have tested positive for Covid-19 flatlined in the most recent data released by the Ministry of Justice.

As at 5pm on Wednesday, 490 prisoners were confirmed to have had the virus across 80 prisons, no change in 24 hours, while the number of infected staff rose by three to 964 across 105 prisons.

Figures obtained by the Lord Bishop of Gloucester show that more than 3,500 prisoners have previously displayed symptoms of Covid-19. Of those, 1447 (or 42%) were tested.

There are around 79,800 prisoners across 117 prisons in England and Wales, and around 33,000 staff working in public sector prisons.

At least 23 prisoners and nine staff are known to have died, as well as one prison escort driver and one NHS trust employee working in a secure training centre.

5th June 2020
Children
Q: What steps will prisons be taking to support relationships with parents and their young children who cannot write letters or leave voicemails?

A: Around 60% of cells now have in-cell telephony, and we have contingency measures in place to ensure prisoners can maintain contact with their family via other means. This includes the provision of 900 locked mobile phones. These handsets will enable prisoners to phone the existing PIN phone system and, when connected, the experience will be the same as if they were using a landing PIN phone.

Self-Isolation
Q: If a cellmate has coronavirus, will the other individual be put in isolation?

A: If a prisoner displays symptoms, they will need to be isolated along with any other person who would, in a community setting, be deemed a member of their household. This will always include any prisoner who is currently sharing a cell with the symptomatic prisoner, regardless of whether they are symptomatic.

Q: Will families be informed if a prisoner tests positive for covid-19?

A: We must continue to respect patient confidentiality and individuals would need to provide their consent for a third party to inform their family. The prison would then be able to contact specific family members agreed through consent, if appropriate to do so.

Post
Q: Can friends/family still send through post?

A: Yes, all prisons are still receiving post. We recognise that this is a really important way for prisoners to keep in touch with families while everyone is in isolation.

Phone service
Q: Will phone calls be free of charge?

A: There’s no change to the call charge policy. Phone services in prisons are not free, but additional credit will be considered on compassionate grounds by prisons.

Q: Who can prisoners call?

A: Prisons use a call-enabling service, whereby prisoners can request telephone numbers added to their account (subject to public protection checks). In addition, there are a range of advocacy and support lines pre-approved on all accounts, such as Samaritans and the Prisoner Advice Service.

Q: Will prisoners have access to the internet on the phones?

A: In-cell telephones and the additional phone sets do not have access to the internet. You cannot email prisoners directly, but all prisons use a service called Email a Prisoner. If you send a message this way, it will be printed out and delivered by prison staff. More on how the service operates including costs.

Q: Is there a list of prisons that the additional 900 phones have been given to?

A: The additional phone sets were issued to all prisons that do not currently have in-cell telephony installed. They have been issued to 57 sites, including prisons, Immigration Removal Centres and Foreign National Centres.

Q: Can I send a voicemail or voice message to a prisoner?

A: Yes. Prisons that use the Prison Voicemail service are still able to receive messages. Find out about how this works and costs.

Video calls
Q: Will prisoners be able to video call?

A: Secure video calling has been introduced in some prisons and young offender institutions (YOIs) across England and Wales with a wider rollout in the coming weeks. Video calls are free for both prisoners and their families while we are dealing with the Covid-19 outbreak. Find out which prisons and institutions have video calling.

Transfers
Q: Will prisoner transfers still happen?

A: As a result of the coronavirus pandemic, all non-essential transfers of prisoners have ceased. This is to contain the outbreak, and for the health and safety of prisoners and prison and escort vehicle staff.

Visits
Q: How long are prison visits suspended for?

A: Measures suspending prison visits are part of the nationwide efforts to fight coronavirus. They are temporary and we will review the restrictions, taking into account public health advice.

Health
Q: Can visitors still go through to the safer custody team to enquire about prisoner welfare?

A: If someone has a concern about the welfare of an individual prisoner, they can contact the prison via the safety hotline.

Q: How will mental health support be enhanced during this period?

A: The safety of those who live and work in prisons remains our top priority. We have provided additional guidance to prisons around supporting people at risk of harming themselves. Whilst prisoners are having to spend more time in their cells they will be given access to essential and support services such as the Samaritans through the prison landing, in-cell and handset pin phones.

Q: How does this impact the supply of medication?

A: Prisoners will continue to receive the medication they require.

Q: What if I have an urgent concern about a prisoner?

A: You should call the prison directly. Contact details for each prison, including specific safer custody lines, are available through the Find a Prison service.

Release
Q: Are prisoners still able to be granted Release on Temporary Licence (ROTL)?

A: All ROTL has been suspended except where the prisoner is working as a key worker, the temporary release is on compassionate grounds, or is in accordance with the new temporary release scheme announced on 4 April.

Q. Will prisoners be released on time?

A: Yes, prisoners will not be kept in prison past their release date.

Facilities
Q: Does every prisoner across the estate have access to soap, hot water and showers – and how regularly?

A: The Prison Service has a contract with a major supplier of cleaning and personal hygiene goods, which are routinely delivered into jails. Prisoners also have access to a weekly canteen order where they can order specific hygiene products in addition to those provided by the establishment. Exact quantities and types of toiletries provided are decided at a local level based on individual needs. All prisoners should have regular access to showers.

3rd June 2020

COVID-19: National Framework for Prison Regimes and Services

In response to the threat of Covid-19, the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) and Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service (HMPPS) took decisive action to protect staff and prisoners. The decision to bring in these restrictions was not taken lightly, and we fully appreciate the consequences for prisoners and their families.

This Framework sets out how we will take decisions about the cautious easing of these restrictions, guided by public health advice and the best available data. There will not be a simple easing of restrictions across the estate, but this national guidance will ensure there is consistency in decision-making by governors.

Read the National Framework >>

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Coronavirus: Q&A for friends and family of prisoners 

View Questions and Answers >>

Updated: Secure video visits to be rolled out

Secure Video Visits introduced in ten prisons >>

Updated: COVID-19: prisons and other prescribed places of detention guidance

Guidance for prisons and other prescribed places of detention on COVID-19 poster

COVID-19: prisons and other prescribed places of detention guidance

This guidance will assist healthcare staff and custodial/detention staff in addressing coronavirus (COVID-19) in prescribed places of detention (PPDs).

Main messages are:

  • any prisoner or detainee with a new, continuous cough or a high temperature should be placed in protective isolation for 7 days
  • if a member of staff becomes unwell on site with a new, continuous cough or a high temperature, they should go home
  • staff and prisoners should be reminded to wash their hands for 20 seconds more frequently and catch coughs and sneezes in tissues
  • frequently clean and disinfect objects and surfaces that are touched regularly, using your standard cleaning products
  • prisoners or detainees who have a new, continuous cough or a high temperature but are clinically well enough to remain in prescribed places of detention (PPDs) do not need to be transferred to hospital.
  • confirmed cases of coronavirus (COVID-19) should be notified by prison or immigration removal centre (IRC) healthcare teams as soon as possible to local Public Health England Health Protection Teams
  • people who are severely unwell may be transferred to appropriate healthcare facilities with usual escorts and following advice on safe transfers
  • staff should wear specified personal protective equipment (PPE) for activities requiring sustained close contact with possible cases (see below for detail)
  • if facing multiple cases of those displaying symptoms, ‘cohorting’, or the gathering of potentially infected cases into a designated area, may be necessary
  • PPD leaders should be assessing their estate for suitable isolation and cohorting provision

Please note This guidance is of a general nature and should be treated as a guide, and in the event of any conflict between any applicable legislation (including the health and safety legislation) and this guidance, the applicable legislation shall prevail.

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12th May 2020

MOJ stakeholder update:

As of 17:00 on SUNDAY 10 MAY: 397 prisoners have tested positive for COVID-19 across 74 prisons; 479 prison staff have tested positive for COVID-19 across 69 prisons; 15 (PECS) staff have tested positive for COVID-19

Proposals to release some offenders from prison earlier than planned have been shelved by the government.

The change faced opposition from a number of Tory MPs and a Whitehall source told the BBC it was no longer necessary as the coronavirus outbreak has eased pressure on the prison system with fewer cases going to the courts.

Inmates could still be released under the COVID early release scheme.

Learn More >>

COVID-19 population management strategy for prisons

Public Health England have worked closely with HM Prison & Probation Service and NHS England to enhance social distancing, protect the most vulnerable, and increase compartmentalisation in prisons in England. Outbreaks of COVID-19 in prisons affecting staff and prisoners are being seen currently but early emerging data collected by PHE suggests that the ‘explosive outbreaks’ of COVID-19 which were feared at the beginning of the pandemic wave are not being seen. Instead, there is evidence of containment of outbreaks.

 

Update on COVID-19 in prisons
Update on covid-19 in prisons

This follows new modelling by Public Health England (PHE) and HM Prison and Probation Service (HMPPS) that indicates jails are successfully limiting deaths and the transmission of the virus within the estate.

The new modelling predicts a drastic reduction in the spread rates of the infection compared to previous forecasts, with each case being passed on to less than one person –and monitoring suggests overall infection rates are falling.

This means that as a result of the strong measures introduced by HMPPS, lives should be saved and the NHS is being protected from the impact of widespread local outbreaks.

HMPPS is containing the spread of COVID-19 within jails using an approach known as ‘compartmentalisation’. Through this approach, staff have isolated those with symptoms, and many prisons have been able to shield the vulnerable and quarantine new arrivals.

Separating those with symptoms has been ongoing since early February and coupled with the wider action taken, this has limited the spread of confirmed Coronavirus cases in jails. The majority of those infected have now made a successful recovery.

HMPPS took decisive action in March to minimise movements between jails to avoid thousands of prisoners and staff becoming infected with the virus. Strong further measures were introduced to ease pressure on prisons with the early release of low-risk offenderstemporary expansion of the estate, and work to reduce the number of those held on remand.

The new modelling shows that reducing the prison population by 5,000 could be effective in limiting the spread of the virus. Thanks to wide measures taken, the population has already reduced by almost 3,000 over a seven-week period. Combining a reduction in the prison population, creating additional headroom in the estate, and managing prisoners through ‘compartmentalisation’, HMPPS can continue to protect life.

Prisons and Probation Minister, Lucy Frazer QC MP, said:

This Government has taken unprecedented action during this difficult period to save lives and protect the NHS. I cannot express sufficient gratitude to the hard-working prison and healthcare staff, and prisoners, who have allowed this to take place. My thoughts are with all of those affected by this terrible virus.

We know further progress is needed if we are to continue to strike a balance between limiting the spread of COVID-19 and protecting the public. We appreciate that unusual measures will need to remain in place for some time and significant challenges remain.

But there are positive signs that our carefully implemented approach is limiting the impact of this initial phase of the pandemic – actual cases and deaths so far are much lower than originally predicted. We will continue to do everything possible to make sure this remains the case.

Prison staff have continued to ensure the effective running of jails and many hundreds are returning to work after periods of absence to comply with public health guidance.

This is being helped by an increase in staff testing, with over a thousand referred for testing in the past fortnight. Personal protective equipment is also being provided to prison officers and all jails have the soap and cleaning materials they need.

Work to create the additional space in the prison estate will continue at pace, with the installation of hundreds of temporary, single occupancy cells alongside the scheme to release low-risk offenders. Efforts to expedite sentencing hearings for those on remand are ongoing.

All our actions have been informed by the advice of experts from PHE and will be kept under constant review. The revised model on transmission of COVID-19 in prisons is available.

 

Rachel Yates

Tributes have been paid to a prison officer who died after contracting coronavirus.

Rachael Yates, 33, worked at the category C Usk Prison in Monmouthshire, having previously worked at the town’s post office.

Ms Yates is the fourth member of prison staff in the UK to die after falling ill with Covid-19.

Usk Town Council paid tribute to her in a post on Facebook.

They said: “Many of you will remember Rachael and her cheery nature working alongside Jane behind the counter at the old post office in Bridge Street – often in Victorian costume – and some of you may have seen her recently around Usk where she had been working at Usk Prison.

“Our thoughts are very much with her family at this very sad time.”

A Prison Service spokeswoman said: “An officer at HMP Usk sadly passed away on April 21 and our deepest sympathies are with her loved ones and colleagues at this difficult time.”

1800 hrs 21st April 2020

Almost 300 prisoners have tested positive for coronavirus in more than half of jails in England and Wales.

There are now a total of 278 confirmed cases in 64 prisons as of 5pm on Sunday, according to the Ministry of Justice (MoJ), and 13 inmates have died.

Some 194 prison staff have also contracted the virus in 53 jails as well as eight prisoner escort and custody services staff.

More >>

 

00.01 hrs 17th April 2020

The following is the rules relating to the Early Release of prisoners while a Coronavirus Control Period is in operation

9A.—Coronavirus Restricted Temporary Release

(1) During a transmission control period, the Secretary of State may, in accordance with the other provisions of this rule, temporarily release a prisoner falling within a description specified in a direction made under this rule.

(2) A prisoner may only be released under this rule (subject to paragraph (3)) if—

View full new Rules >>

Prison estate expanded to protect NHS from coronavirus risk

  • First wave of 500 temporary cells to be installed at prisons
  • Extra prison space will limit spread of Coronavirus in jails
  • Builds on Government’s action to protect staff, prisoners and the NHS

Across the estate Prisons are moving towards single-cell accommodation, as much as possible, to limit the spread of infection and the number of deaths. More >>

Wednesday 8th April 2020

Failure to drastically and urgently reduce the number of prisoners behind bars to protect them and others from coronavirus “will have a devastating impact”, campaigners have warned. The comments came after it emerged the death toll of inmates who had died after contracting the virus had risen to 10. Three were inmates at HMP Littlehey, Cambridgeshire, with others being held at Birmingham, Manchester, Altcourse in Merseyside, Belmarsh in south east London, Whatton in Nottinghamshire, Sudbury in Derbyshire, and a female prisoner at Low Newton, County Durham. A total of 116 prisoners had tested positive for Covid-19 in 43 prisons as of 5pm on Monday. There are 19 prison staff in 12 jails who have contracted the virus as well as four prison escort and custody services staff. More >>

Sunday 5th April 2020 Two Prison Officers at Pentonville Prison have died after suffering Covid-19 symptoms.

Bovil Peter and Patrick Beckford were both Operational Support Officers at the jail, and were believed to be aged in their 60s. https://prisons.org.uk/category/prison-news-desk/

03.00 hrs Saturday 4th April 2020 Around 4,000 low risk prisoners to be released

Measures announced to protect NHS from coronavirus risk in prisons

Around 4,000 risk-assessed prisoners who are within two months of their release date will be temporarily released from jail, as part of the national plan to protect the NHS and save lives.

  • Plan to protect the NHS from further pressure
  • Measures will also benefit brave prison staff
  • Selected low-risk offenders, within weeks of their release dates, will be electronically tagged and temporarily released on licence in stages
  • Offenders can be recalled at the first sign of concern
  • Violent and sexual offenders and those of security concern will not be considered

This action being taken is necessary to avoid thousands of prisoners becoming infected, overwhelming local NHS services. This is due to the close proximity between prisoners, who often share cells.

Prisoners who pass the stringent criteria for release will be subject to strict conditions, and will be electronically monitored, including with GPS tags, to enforce the requirement to stay at home.

They can be immediately recalled to prison for breaching these conditions or committing further offences. The releases will be phased over time but can start from next week.

Public protection is paramount. No high-risk offenders, including those convicted of violent or sexual offences, anyone of national security concern or a danger to children, will be considered for release, nor any prisoners who have not served at least half their custodial term. Additionally, no offender convicted of COVID-19 related offences, including coughing at emergency workers or stealing personal protective equipment, will be eligible.

No prisoner would be released if they have symptoms of coronavirus or without housing and health support being in place.

In addition, the Ministry of Justice is working to identify publicly owned sites that could be used to house temporary prison accommodation to ease pressure on the permanent estate, further separate prisoners and reduce the spread of the virus.

Lord Chancellor and Justice Secretary Robert Buckland QC MP said:

This Government is committed to ensuring that justice is served to those who break the law.

But this is an unprecedented situation because if Coronavirus takes hold in our prisons, the NHS could be overwhelmed and more lives put at risk.

All prisoners will face a tough risk assessment and must comply with strict conditions, including an electronic tag, while they are closely monitored. Those that do not will be recalled to prison.

Some 88 prisoners and 15 staff have tested positive for COVID-19.

Prison staff have continued to ensure the effective running of our jails despite around 26% being absent or self-isolating. To further protect them and reduce pressure on prisons, the Ministry of Justice is already:

  • Shielding vulnerable prisoners through social distancing measures
  • Re-deploying staff, where appropriate, from headquarters into operational roles
  • Working with the judiciary to expedite sentencing hearings for those on remand to reduce the numbers being held in custody.

Prisons are moving towards single-cell accommodation as much as possible across the estate – to limit the spread of infection and the number of deaths. This follows public health advice that prisons present a unique environment where rapid outbreaks of the virus could place a significant strain on local NHS services.

Strong, further action now will strike the right balance between protecting the public and managing the risk of an escalating situation in prisons.

Steps are being taken to expand the use of electronic monitoring to facilitate the safe release of more low-risk prisoners who were due to leave jail in the next two months regardless.

This means those nearing the end of their sentences will be released in stages on temporary licence – allowing prisons to continue to safely manage vulnerable but higher-risk offenders within the estate.

Statutory Instruments to allow these releases to take place will be laid on Monday and the move aligns us with countries such as France, the United States, Australia, Germany, and Canada who have also sanctioned the early release of prisoners.

France has announced the release of some 5,000 prisoners, while in the US state of California alone, 3,500 are being granted early release.

The Prison Service has already taken decisive action to ensure prisons are complying with social distancing rules and provided alternative means for prisoners to keep in touch with their families after cancelling family visits.

Additionally, the Justice Secretary Robert Buckland granted temporary release of pregnant women in custody, while movements between jails have been limited in all but exceptional cases.

All actions have been informed by the advice of experts from Public Health England and will be kept under constant review.

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APPROVED PREMISES
View >> Official  Covid-19 Information and Advice for Staff and Residents of Approved Premises Database
—————————————————————–

We understand that friends and families of those in prison are concerned about the spread of coronavirus.

Please see below for our responses to questions you may have, which we will continue to update regularly. For further updates, please follow us on Twitter @hmpps.

Children

Q: What steps will prisons be taking to support relationships with parents and their young children who cannot write letters or leave voicemails?

A: Around 60% of cells now have in-cell telephony, and we have contingency measures in place to ensure prisoners can maintain contact with their family via other means. This includes the provision of 900 locked mobile phones. These handsets will enable prisoners to phone the existing PIN phone system and, when connected, the experience will be the same as if they were using a landing PIN phone.

Self-Isolation

Q: If a cellmate has coronavirus, will the other individual be put in isolation?

A: If a prisoner displays symptoms, they will need to be isolated along with any other person who would, in a community setting, be deemed a member of their household. This will always include any prisoner who is currently sharing a cell with the symptomatic prisoner, regardless of whether they are symptomatic.

Post

Q: Can friends/family still send through post?

A: Yes, all prisons are still receiving post. We recognise that this is a really important way for prisoners to keep in touch with families while everyone is in isolation.

Phone service

Q: Will phone calls be free of charge?

A: There’s no change to the call charge policy. Phone services in prisons are not free, but additional credit will be considered on compassionate grounds by prisons.

Q: Who can prisoners call?

A: Prisons use a call-enabling service, whereby prisoners can request telephone numbers added to their account (subject to public protection checks). In addition, there are a range of advocacy and support lines pre-approved on all accounts, such as Samaritans and the Prisoner Advice Service.

Q: Will prisoners have access to the internet on the phones?

A: In-cell telephones and the additional phone sets do not have access to the internet. You cannot email prisoners directly, but some prisons use a service called Email a Prisoner. If you send a message this way, it will be printed out and delivered by prison staff.

Q: Is there a list of prisons that the additional 900 phones have been given to?

A: The additional phone sets were issued to all prisons that do not currently have in-cell telephony installed. They have been issued to 57 sites, including prisons, Immigration Removal Centres and Foreign National Centres.

Transfers

Q: Will prisoner transfers still happen?

A: As a result of the coronavirus pandemic, all non-essential transfers of prisoners have ceased. This is to contain the outbreak, and for the health and safety of prisoners and prison and escort vehicle staff.

Visits

Q: How long are prison visits suspended for?

A: Measures suspending prison visits are part of the nationwide efforts to fight coronavirus. They are temporary and we will review the restrictions, taking into account public health advice.

Mental health

Q: Can visitors still go through to the safer custody team to enquire about prisoner welfare?

A: If someone has a concern about the welfare of an individual prisoner, they can contact the prison via the safety hotline.

Q: How will mental health support be enhanced during this period?

A: The safety of those who live and work in prisons remains our top priority. We have provided additional guidance to prisons around supporting people at risk of harming themselves. Whilst prisoners are having to spend more time in their cells they will be given access to essential and support services such as the Samaritans through the prison landing, in-cell and handset pin phones.

Release

Q: Are prisoners who are granted Release on Temporary Licence (ROTL) still able to do so?

A: All release on temporary licence has been suspended except where the prisoner is working as a key worker in line with government guidance, or there are compelling compassionate reasons to release.

Q. Will prisoners be released on time?

A: Yes, prisoners will not be kept in prison past their release date.

Facilities

Q: Does every prisoner across the estate have access to soap, hot water and showers – and how regularly?

A: The Prison Service has a contract with a major supplier of cleaning and personal hygiene goods, which are routinely delivered into jails. Prisoners also have access to a weekly canteen order where they can order specific hygiene products in addition to those provided by the establishment. Exact quantities and types of toiletries provided are decided at a local level based on individual needs. All prisoners should have regular access to showers.

1600 hrs 30th March 2020:  Ministry of Justice (MoJ) confirmed that, as of 5.40pm on Sunday, 55 prisoners had tested positive for coronavirus in 21 different prisons.
Full details on our Newsdesk

1630 hrs 27th March: Some 27 inmates have now tested positive for coronavirus in 14 different prisons.
Full details on our Newsdesk

HMPPS ADVICE: 1300 hours 27th March
HMPPS announce changes to prisoners work, pay and the introduction of a range of special measures during the Covid-19 lockdown.
Full details on our Newsdesk

17.30 26th March:

Main messages are:

  • any prisoner/detainee with a new, continuous cough or a high temperature should be placed in protective isolation for 7 days
  • if a member of staff or visitor becomes unwell on site with a new, continuous cough or a high temperature, they should go home
  • staff, prisoners and visitors should be reminded to wash their hands for 20 seconds more frequently and catch coughs and sneezes in tissues
  • frequently clean and disinfect objects and surfaces that are touched regularly, using your standard cleaning products
  • prisoners or detainees who have a new, continuous cough or a high temperature but are clinically well enough to remain in prescribed places of detention (PPDs) do not need to be transferred to hospital.
  • confirmed cases of coronavirus (COVID-19) should be notified by prison or immigration removal centre (IRC) healthcare teams as soon as possible to local Public Health England Health Protection Teams
  • people who are severely unwell may be transferred to appropriate healthcare facilities with usual escorts and following advice on safe transfers
  • staff should wear specified personal protective equipment (PPE) for activities requiring sustained close contact with possible cases (see below for detail)
  • if facing multiple cases of those displaying symptoms, ‘cohorting’, or the gathering of potentially infected cases into a designated area, may be necessary
  • PPD leaders should be assessing their estate for suitable isolation and cohorting provision
    Full details on our Newsdesk

16.45: 26th March 2020: HMPPS issues new guidance about the reduction in prison regimes.  Changes to regimes The usual regime in prisons has been paused temporarily to apply social distancing. This is vital for keeping prisoners and staff safe and preventing the spread of the virus. This means prisoners can no longer take part in usual recreational activities such as using the gym, going to worship or visiting the library. Only essential workers such as kitchen staff or wing cleaners will continue with their jobs but people will still get paid. Support for prisoners, such as advice on in-cell worship, exercise and managing anxiety will be provided.
Full details on our Newsdesk

1420: 26th March 2020: Second prisoner dies after contracting coronavirus while inside – this time at HMP Manchester
Full details on our Newsdesk

1400: 26th March 2020: Coughing at police officers while claiming to have Covid-19: two years in prison
Full details on our Newsdesk

1100: 26th March 2020: First Covid-19 Death in Prison at HMP Littlehey
Full details on our Newsdesk

25th March 2020

Latest Figures 1pm Wednesday 25th March 2020

Some 19 inmates have now tested positive for coronavirus in 10 different prisons.

The number of cases, which the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) said was accurate as of 1pm on Wednesday, has jumped up by six in 24 hours.

Jails in England and Wales were put on immediate lockdown on Tuesday with all visits cancelled as it emerged thousands of staff were in self-isolation.

Jo Farrar, chief executive of the Prison and Probation Service, told the Commons Justice Committee around 4,300 prison and probation staff overall were self-isolating at present.

Some 3,500 were prison staff – representing about 10% of the workforce – and four have tested positive for Covid-19, each in separate jails.

There have been three prisoner escort and custody services staff and eight probation staff who have also tested positive.

Around 50,000 protective masks have been delivered for staff to use and a ban on bringing hand sanitiser into the prison had been lifted.

Justice Secretary Robert Buckland has hinted he may have to consider some forms of early release for prisoners in a bid to ease pressure on jails during the crisis.

Peter Dawson, director of the Prison Reform Trust, said: “The risks of infection for people who live and work in prisons are acute, as the Justice Secretary has said.

“So while it is obviously right that the way of life in prisons should change dramatically, just as it has in the wider community, Robert Buckland is right to be considering forms of early release.

“In a chronically overcrowded system, this will help keep people safe by reducing the pressure on both space and staff resources.

“For this to work, there will need to be support to organisations, many of them charities, that help prisoners on release.

“And it’s vital that while creating some headroom through releases, the flow of people into prisons is also drastically reduced.

“That means not sending anyone to prison for all but the most serious alleged or proved offending, and not recalling people to prison in all but the most dangerous of circumstances.”

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Video>> Watch the Justice Secretary giving evidence about Prisons and Covid-19 to the Justice Select Committee on 24th March 2020

BACKGROUND

Prison visits are temporarily suspended following instructions for people to stay at home, protect the NHS and save lives.

We will update you here as soon as this changes.

Currently HMPPS state there are 13 inmates who have tested positive for Covid-19 but they expect this number to increase

There are a number of other ways to contact someone in prison if you are unable to visit them.

You can:

You can also contact the Prisoners’ Families Helpline on 0808 808 2003.

Keep up to Date with latest information >>

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