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Prisoners: Coronavirus

Question for Ministry of Justice

UIN 40679, tabled on 27 April 2020

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what his policy is on protecting prisoners with underlying health conditions from covid-19.

Answered on

5 May 2020

To protect those most vulnerable to COVID-19 and reduce transmission of infection, new cohorting strategies were developed by Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service advised by the Public Health Authorities and implemented from March 31. As a result, prisons are in the process of implementing units to isolate the sick, shield the vulnerable (including those with underlying health conditions) and cohort new arrivals to reduce risk.

In addition, prisoners identified as ‘extremely vulnerable’ as defined in the NHS guidelines will merit consideration for Release on Temporary License (ROTL). Any prisoners released on temporary license must abide by the provisions of that licence; the licence can be revoked for breach of a condition or for any other reason. All prisoners released under ROTL will be returned to prison once the justification for temporary compassionate release ends, provided they are still serving the custodial element of their sentence at that point.

More widely, the Prison Service is creating extra cells, restricting regimes, limiting prisoner movement and releasing some prisoners early. The strong measures the Prison Service is taking are successfully limiting the transmission of the virus.