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Dartmoor Prison: Coronavirus

Question for Ministry of Justice

UIN HL11990, tabled on 11 January 2021

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether any prisoners in HMP Dartmoor who have tested positive for COVID-19 are confined to cells for 24-hours per day without access to showers; if so, (1) how many prisoners are being so confined, (2) how long they expect that confinement to continue, and (3) what assessment they have made of the impact of any such confinement on the mental health of prisoners.

Answered on

25 January 2021

HMP Dartmoor is delivering essential elements of prison regime even during the current restrictions. In each 24-hour period, prisoners are allowed phone calls (mobile phones when required for isolators), time in the open air, showers, meals and medication distribution. Even for those who are Covid-19 positive and in isolation, showers are facilitated in prisoner groups. Regime is additionally supplemented through access to gymnasium, keywork sessions and wellbeing checks, chaplaincy services, visits, video calls and other localised activities. Between 30 November 2020 and 11 January 2021, prisoners at HMP Dartmoor averaged 1.3 hours out of cell per day.

These measures are in line with the requirements of the National Framework for Prison Regimes and Services. Following the Prime Minister’s announcement of 4 January, all prisons changed their regimes because of the growing rate of infection within the community. All adult prisons are currently in a stage four regime as outlined in the National Framework to reduce contact between people and therefore reduce the chance of transmission. All prisons are required to deliver the essential elements of prison regime as outlined above. We have also introduced a range of measures and products designed to manage prisoners with specific needs, including mental health needs. The National Framework also provides a roadmap for easing restrictions in prisons when it becomes appropriate, guided by public health advice, alongside an operational assessment of what can be achieved in custodial settings while keeping staff and those in our care safe.