Prisons: Coronavirus

Ministry of Justice written question – answered on 26th March 2020.

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Photo of Kenny MacAskill Kenny MacAskill Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Justice Team Member)

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, with reference to the statement by the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice on 18 March 2020, Official Report, column 335WH, whether the performance of different tasks in prisons during the covid-19 outbreak will be (a) fully risk-assessed before staff are asked to perform them and (b) voluntary.

Photo of Kenny MacAskill Kenny MacAskill Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Justice Team Member)

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, with reference to the oral contribution of the Parliamentary Under Secretary for Justice of 18 March 2020, Official Report, column 335, that some contingency planning may include the need to ask staff to work in a different place and potentially do different tasks, whether prison governors are authorised to ask staff not directly employed by Her Majesty's Prison and Probation Service to perform tasks outside of their normal work area of responsibility.

Photo of Kenny MacAskill Kenny MacAskill Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Justice Team Member)

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, with reference to the oral contribution of the Parliamentary Under Secretary for Justice of 18 March 2020, Official Report, column 335, that some contingency planning may include the need to ask staff to work in a different place and potentially do different tasks, whether prison education staff will be expected to perform non-education tasks in prisons during the covid-19 outbreak.

Photo of Kenny MacAskill Kenny MacAskill Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Justice Team Member)

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, with reference to the oral contribution of the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice, of 18 March 2020, Official Report, column 335WH, what plans he has to cancel education provision in prisons during the covid-19 outbreak.

Photo of Lucy Frazer Lucy Frazer The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice

In line with the latest Government advice, as of 24 March all non-essential activities in prisons involving groups of people should be stopped. This includes social visits, education, non-essential work, association, communal dining, periods of mass prisoner movement, religious services and access to the gymnasium.

In order to boost staff availability part of contingency planning may include the need to ask staff directly employed by HMPPS to work in a different place and potentially do different tasks, this includes redeploying operationally trained staff currently working in headquarters back into prisons. We are working closely with Trade Union colleagues to ensure that there is a suitable framework that provides clear guidance in respect of what would be an appropriate range of tasks, this will be fully risk assessed before staff are asked to perform the tasks. The decisions on this will be made by Governors at establishments based on local needs.

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