14th May 2021.
18th March 20201: Forgotten behind bars – Covid-19 and Prisons
The spread of COVID-19 in prisons and other detention facilities has thrown into stark relief systemic threats to health in detention such as overcrowding and poor sanitary conditions and laid bare years of underinvestment and neglect of health services in prisons. Against this backdrop, this report summarizes a review of 69 Governments’ response to COVID-19 in detention facilities. It concludes that the measures governments have introduced to prevent the spread of COVID-19 have often been inadequate and, in some cases, have themselves led to human rights violations.
17th March 2021: Prisoners are three times more likely to die of Covid-19 compared to the general population and should therefore be made a vaccine priority, according to scientists.
UCL researchers have revealed that there were 121 deaths related to Covid-19 among prisoners in England and Wales between March 2020 and February 2021, representing a risk of dying 3.3 times higher than that of people of the same age and sex outside secure environments. This is despite extensive physical distancing measures, including prisons keeping many inmates in their cells for 23 hours a day.
As well as deaths, cases of the virus are significantly higher in prisons. During the first wave of the pandemic there were 7.6 confirmed Covid-19 cases per 1,000 people in prisons in England and Wales compared with 4.9 per 1,000 in the general population.
In an article published in The Lancet – download below- the research team reported that 85 per cent of prison or youth custody service sites reported cases in January 2021 alone, between them totalling over 4,000 new cases. Some of these outbreaks have involved hundreds of cases, with local areas containing prisons often having the highest overall rates of Covid-19 in England.
Lead author of Dr Isobel Braithwaite said: “Our findings show that people in prisons are at a much higher risk of dying from Covid-19 than the general population, and we make the case that both they and prison staff should be given high priority in the rollout of vaccines. This has recently been agreed for people experiencing homelessness, who face similarly high risks.
“We believe the current methods of regime restriction are not enough to protect people adequately, and a systematic, ‘whole-prison’ approach to vaccination is key to preventing further outbreaks and reducing overall deaths in prisons.”
- HMPPS COVID-19 statistics : April 2021
- HMPPS COVID-19 statistics : March 2021
- HMPPS COVID-19 statistics : February 2021
- HMPPS COVID-19 statistics : January 2021
- HMPPS COVID-19 statistics : December 2020
- HMPPS COVID-19 statistics : November 2020
- HMPPS COVID-19 statistics : October 2020
- HMPPS COVID-19 statistics : September 2020
- HMPPS COVID-19 statistics : August 2020
What Covid Tier is a prison located in – Insert Prison Postcode Here
Prison visits in England
To find out which prisons are open for visits choose ‘PRISON ESTABLISHMENTS’ from our home page and select the prison you need information about
Prison visits in England
Local restriction tiers are in place in England.
Tier 1 and 2
In tier 1 and tier 2 areas, prisons will be opening for visits when it is safe to do so. This means that it’s important to check local guidance regularly as the situation in individual prisons may change.
Find out which prisons are open for visits – click PRISON ESTABLISHMENTS from out home page.
Tier 3 and 4
Prison visits continue to be suspended in tier 3 and 4 areas, except on exceptional compassionate grounds which should be agreed in advance with the prison. Visits to children will continue. Official/legal visits will continue as necessary but will be done remotely where possible.
Additionally, if you live in a tier 3 or 4 local restriction area you should not travel to visit a prison in another area – unless the visit has been agreed in advance by the prison on exceptional compassionate grounds.
Please visit the local restriction tiers page to find out what tier your area is in and the additional restrictions that apply.
If you are unable to visit a prison, you can still keep in touch. Find out about other ways of keeping in touch.
Prison visits in Wales
National restrictions are in place in Wales. Find out about the rules and what you can and cannot do.
Prison visits are suspended in Wales during Alert Level 4, which has been extended to the end of January 2021 – except on exceptional compassionate grounds which should be agreed in advance with the prison. Visits to children will continue. Official/legal visits will continue as necessary but will be done remotely where possible.
Additionally, if you live in Wales you should not travel to visit a prison in England during Alert Level 4 – unless the visit has been agreed in advance by the prison on exceptional compassionate grounds.
Contact someone in prison
If you are unable to visit someone in prison, you can contact them by:
- leaving a voice message using the Prison Voicemail Service
- sending an email using the email a prisoner service
- writing to them.
Additional temporary secure phone handsets were issued to all prisons that did not have in-cell telephony installed. More on telephone calls.
Many prisons and young offender institutions (YOI) across England and Wales have secure video calling. More prisons and YOI will provide this in the future. Video calls are currently free for both prisoners and their families. Find out which prisons and institutions have video calling.
What we are doing to keep people safe in prisons
Prisons are working with public health and NHS services and continue to prioritise the safety of staff, prisoners and visitors.
All prisons have introduced covid-secure ways of working. Prisons have procedures to manage outbreaks of infectious diseases and 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.
Changes to regimes
Our priority is to limit the spread of the virus and to protect the lives of those who live and work in our prisons.
This means that whilst prisons will aim to maintain current regimes, temporary changes may need to be put into place. All prisons are different and regime changes may vary across the country. We will continue to follow public health advice in relation to prisons.
Parole Board hearings
The majority of Parole Board hearings are now taking place remotely. For the small number of cases that are so sensitive and complex that they require a face to face hearing, the Parole Board is working with prisons to establish arrangements for safe hearings to take place..
Find out more about Parole Board hearings.
How we will update you about the impact of coronavirus on prisons
We also have a range of ways to communicate advice and guidance to people in prison, including National Prison Radio
Urgent concerns about someone in prison
If you have urgent concerns about someone in prison you should contact the prison directly.
Other support for families
Prisoners’ Families Helpline
Telephone: 0808 808 2003
Monday to Friday, 9am to 8pm
Saturday and Sunday, 10am to 3pm
Families Outside Support and Information Helpline
For prisons in Scotland only
Telephone: 0800 254 0088
Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm
Saturday and Sunday, Closed