Ministry of Justice written question – answered on 22nd September 2020.

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Photo of Sarah Atherton Sarah Atherton Conservative, Wrexham

What assessment he has made of the adequacy of the response to the covid-19 outbreak in prisons.

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

From the start of the pandemic our priority in prisons has been on protecting staff, prisoners, the NHS and the wider community from outbreaks in custody. Thanks to the hard work of prison staff we have so far been successful in achieving this, although we are not complacent and know challenges remain over the autumn and winter.

In March Public Health England (PHE) modelled an expected 2,300 deaths in prisons. We took decisive action to avoid thousands of prisoners and staff becoming infected with the virus. These included minimising movement between prisons and introducing measures to shield the vulnerable, isolate those with symptoms, and quarantine new entrants to custody.

As a result further modelling by PHE showed that our measures were being effective in controlling the spread of the virus, and avoiding widespread local outbreaks. There have to date been 23 prisoner deaths from Covid-19, and in recent months we have begun to ease restrictions in prison establishments. All our actions have been informed by the advice of experts from PHE and will be kept under constant review.

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