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Prisoners' Release: Coronavirus

Ministry of Justice written question – answered on 9th June 2020.

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Photo of Shabana Mahmood Shabana Mahmood Labour, Birmingham, Ladywood

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what steps his Department has taken with Birmingham City Council to ensure that local officials are included in discussions on the protocols, processes and monitoring of any resettlement of prisoners on early release as a result of the covid-19 outbreak.

Photo of Shabana Mahmood Shabana Mahmood Labour, Birmingham, Ladywood

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what safeguards his Department has put in place to ensure adequacy of the provision of local public services in Birmingham as a result of the early release of prisoners during the covid-19 outbreak.

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

In response to the current unprecedented emergency, over recent weeks the Government has released on temporary licence a small number of risk-assessed prisoners who are already within two months of their release date as part of the national plan to protect the NHS and save lives.

HM Prison and Probation Service (HMPPS) works closely with a number of partners to check suitability for release. This includes working with policing colleagues to ensure local forces are notified of an offender’s proposed release and inviting them to provide any additional information regarding risk surrounding an individual’s release.

In this instance, senior probation staff in Birmingham have confirmed they are engaging with local partners, including the local authority, West Midlands Combined Authority and the office of the West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner.

No offender will be released without housing and healthcare support in place to ensure the impact on local public services is minimised. HMPPS have set up seven Homelessness Prevention Taskforces, including in the Midlands, to coordinate the sourcing of accommodation for those offenders released early. We have also implemented a process for the voluntary sector to match offers of support services for released individuals.

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