Prison Accommodation: Wales

Ministry of Justice written question – answered on 29th April 2020.

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

Upon arrival into custody, all prisoners’ suitability to share a cell is risk assessed. These assessments are based on numerous factors including index offence, health concerns and security information (such as beliefs and prejudices). There are benefits to some prisoners sharing cells for the positive impact it has on mental health and stress levels, in addition to many prisoners preferring to share a cell.

Shared cells at HMP Berwyn are designed for two prisoners.

The table below shows the number of prisoners sharing a cell in prisons in Wales as at 22 April.


Total number of offenders sharing a cell

HMP Berwyn


HMP Cardiff


HMP Parc


HMP Swansea


HMP Usk/Prescoed


The Prison Service has implemented a three-pronged approach to contain the spread of COVID-19 within jails – known as ‘compartmentalisation’. In many prisons they have been able to isolate those with symptoms, shield the vulnerable and quarantine new arrivals for 14 days. Work to create additional space in the prison estate is continuing at pace, with the installation of temporary, single occupancy cells alongside the scheme to release low-risk offenders. Efforts to expedite sentencing hearings for those on remand are ongoing. Our actions have been informed by the advice of experts from Public Health England and Public Health Wales and will be kept under review.

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