INFORMATION: COVID-19 IN PRISONS

HM Prison and Probation Service has announced that social visits will gradually be re-introduced in England and Wales from 29 March. This will be determined on a case-by-case basis for each prison, following agreement between HMPPS and public health professionals, and will be reviewed weekly.

Read the full government guidance—including which prisons have resumed visits—and for information on how you can keep in touch with loved ones during the coronavirus pandemic by clicking here.

Find out what we're doing to help ensure that the lives of prisoners, staff and our community are protected during the pandemic by clicking here.

We have established an urgent new project—CAPPTIVE (The Covid Action Prison Project: Tracking Innovation, Valuing Experience). We want to hear from people in prison, and the people who care about them, about their own experience of the pandemic so far. Click here to find out how you can get involved. 

If you know of someone in prison in need of advice and information then click here for details on how they can get in contact with us.

The Ministry of Justice has also posted a Q&A for friends and family of people in prison which you can read by clicking here.

If you are concerned about a person in prison and would like support yourself, click here for details on how to contact the Prisoners' Families Helpline.

The prison service has published guidance about prison releases in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, which you can read by clicking here. We have produced a summary of some of the key points, which you can read by clicking here.

The Independent Advisory Panel on Deaths in Custody (IAP) has created a Coronavirus Information Hub. This brings together the latest information and responses from the IAP and other national and international sources, on protecting the lives of people in state custody during this unprecedented pandemic.



NEWS

Ahead of next Monday's House of Lords Committee Stage debate, we’ve published two joint briefings on amendments to the Police, Crime, Sentencing & Courts Bill. The amendments would reform the IPP sentence; and introduce judicial oversight for a new power allowing the government to prevent automatic release.

You can read the joint briefing in support of amendments relating to the sentence of Imprisonment for Public Protection by clicking here.

The second briefing in support of greater judicial oversight is available to read by clicking here.

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Prison Reform Trust director, Peter Dawson has written to Jo Farrar, Second Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Justice and Chief Executive Officer, HM Prison and Probation Service to seek clarification on the delivery of the HMPPS Race Action Programme.

The 3-year programme has just 12 months left to run, but there is no publicly available detail about how progress will be assessed; what resources are available; what the timescales for delivery are; or what objectives it seeks to meet. What limited information has been made available has a disproportionate focus on staff, with only brief mentions of prisoners.

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Commenting on the announcement today (14 October) that Ofsted, HM Inspectorate of Prisons, and the Care Quality Commission has triggered the Urgent Notification process for Oakhill Secure Training Centre, Peter Dawson, director of the Prison Reform Trust said:

“This is the third occasion that a Secure Training Centre has been found to be totally unfit to hold the children the government has entrusted to its care. It shows that our whole approach to the imprisonment of children is in urgent need of a rethink. As other governments have done before it, this administration has placed its faith in the invention of a new type of institution—on this occasion a ‘secure school’. But that looks dangerously like window dressing when the first example has yet to open nearly 5 years after the government announced this model as the way forward.

“In the meantime, custodial remand of children has increased sharply, and the government is legislating to punish children even more severely, taking less rather than more account of the scientific evidence on maturity.

“It’s time the government sought expert help to craft a practical national strategy. Without it, they are condemning more children to suffer abuse in a broken system.”

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The last 20 years has seen a dramatic increase in the number of people serving long prison sentences a new briefing published by the Prison Reform Trust today [4 October] reveals.

The briefing has been produced as part of the Prison Reform Trust’s Building Futures project, a five-year project funded by the National Lottery Community Fund to explore the experiences of people who will spend 10 or more years in custody.

Sentences for more serious crimes have become longer and far more people will now spend 10 or more years held in prison. Meeting the challenges of this change will shape the prison landscape for the foreseeable future, the briefing says.

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