Prisoners: Coronavirus

Ministry of Justice written question – answered on 2nd April 2020.

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Photo of Lord Myners Lord Myners Crossbench

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they have received any reports of COVID-19 infection among the imprisoned community; whether HM Prison Service has made arrangements to protect others imprisoned in the same establishment; and what estimate they have made of the number of COVID-19 infected prisoners that can be managed within the total prison estate.

Photo of Lord Keen of Elie Lord Keen of Elie The Advocate-General for Scotland, Lords Spokesperson (Ministry of Justice)

COVID-19 presents a unique set of challenges that we must address in order to maintain the provision of services in custody. HMPPS are working very closely with Public Health England (PHE) to ensure our approach is based on the best scientific advice available. The safety and wellbeing of staff, prisoners and visitors is paramount and at the heart of our approach.

We have existing, well-developed policies and procedures in place to manage outbreaks of infectious diseases. This means prisons are well prepared to take immediate action whenever cases or suspected cases are identified. In line with broader clinical advice, HMPPS has introduced a procedure for the protective isolation of individuals in prison custody when it is considered that they may be potentially infected with the virus.

As of 24 March, prisons in England and Wales are temporarily closed to visitors. This is to ensure prisons are complying with PHE social distancing rules. The usual regime in prisons has also been paused temporarily to apply social distancing. These measures are vital for keeping prisoners and staff safe and preventing the spread of the virus.

We are closely monitoring the number of individuals within the imprisoned community who have tested positive for COVID-19. As of 31 March, 69 prisoners have tested positive for COVID-19 across 25 prisons.

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