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Prisoners' Transfers: Coronavirus

Question for Ministry of Justice

UIN HL11991, tabled on 11 January 2021

To ask Her Majesty's Government when they estimate that transfers between prisons will resume, in particular transfers from closed to open prison conditions.

Answered on

25 January 2021

In March 2020 temporary restrictions were put in place to minimise movements between jails. As at 12th January 2021 inter-prison transfers (including transfers from closed to open prisons) have not been stopped entirely as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic and we continue safely to undertake inter-prison transfers, where required. Transfers between prisons, particularly progressive transfers to open and resettlement prisons, are necessary in order to ensure that space remains within local/reception prisons to accept new receptions from court and to ensure prisoners are held in prisons providing an appropriate level of security.

In order to control the transmission of the virus, prisoners who are transferred to another prison are quarantined upon arrival in order to manage any risks they might bring and protect the rest of a prison’s population. As of 14th January 2021, we are also testing all new arrivals and transfers twice in the first 6 days in 109 prisons across the estate. We continue to explore testing technologies and opportunities in this area. Any prisoners with positive results or symptomatic prisoners are not transferred. This approach ensures that any infection that occurs amongst the arriving cohort is limited only to those with whom they have arrived.

Whilst transfers into the majority of prisons have not ceased, specific prisons may have temporarily to pause their transfers in/out in the event of a declared outbreak. The timeframes associated with this pause, as well as the recovery measures required, are monitored nationally by HMPPS and taken in close consultation with Public Health England.