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Prisons: Coronavirus

Question for Ministry of Justice

UIN 51783, tabled on 1 June 2020

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, pursuant to the Answers of 20 May 2020 to Questions 47226, 427227 and 427228 on Prisons: Coronavirus, if he will publish the (a) analysis HMPPS has undertaken for implementation of the compartmentalisation strategy, (b) numerical extent to which (i) a reduction in the population, (ii) support for early release schemes, (iii) expedition of remand cases, and (iv) expansion of the estate are expected to contribute to a headroom of 5,000 to 5,500 prison places and (b) the timeframe within which that headroom is expected to be achieved.

Answered on

4 June 2020

Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service (HMPPS) has introduced a compartmentalisation strategy to protect staff and those in our care. The efficacy of this approach was supported by a Public Health England assessment published on 24 April (link here).

HMPPS has worked with individual establishments and local health teams to identify the most appropriate way to implement the compartmentalisation strategy in each prison, in line with national guidance. Full implementation will require around 5,000-5,500 additional headroom, from a combination of reduced demand and increased supply of places.

This is being delivered through a range of means, including a reduction in the population, support for early release schemes, expediting of remand cases, and expansion of the estate.

Available data shows that since mid-March the overall prison population has fallen by almost 4,000. As at Friday 29 May, 716 temporary accommodation units have been delivered to 23 HMPPS sites and 128 prisoners have been released under the End of Custody Temporary Release Scheme and compassionate release in light of Covid-19. We have also brought the former Medway Secure Training Centre back into operation temporarily as an annex to HMP/YOI Rochester. The location will provide temporary accommodation for 70 category D adult males.

We are currently on track to have fully implemented compartmentalisation across the estate over the next couple of months and continue to work with establishments and review our plans to ensure we are implementing it in the most efficient manner possible.

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