To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what steps he is taking to reduce the risk of covid-19 spreading to (a) prison staff and people serving sentences in custody and (b) people serving sentences in the community and the staff who supervise them.
13 March 2020
HMPPS is working to prevent the spread of COVID-19, based on the very latest scientific and medical advice. We are working closely with Public Health England, the NHS and the Department of Health and Social Care to manage the challenges we face.
The safety and wellbeing of staff, service users and visitors to our estate is paramount and at the heart of our approach.
Prisons and probation have existing, well-developed policies and procedures in place to manage outbreaks of infectious diseases. This means they are well prepared to take immediate action whenever cases or suspected cases are identified.
Basic hygiene is a key part of tackling the virus and good practice is being promoted on posters throughout the estate. Handwashing facilities are available to all prisoners, services users, staff and visitors, and we have worked closely with suppliers to ensure adequate supply of soap and cleaning materials.
We have procedures agreed with our public health colleagues for protecting staff in the workplace but, like any member of the community, some prison and probation staff may need to self-isolate in line with public health advice, or may become infected. We are taking steps to boost staff availability and so enable us to continue to look after prisoners properly and maintain supervision of offenders in the community in the event of staff absences.