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

The Criminal Procedure Rules relating to the use of intermediaries have been amended via new legislation that came into force on 5 April. The amendments follow a consultation by the Criminal Procedure Rules Committee last year.

The new rules clarify the situation in respect of intermediaries being appointed to assist defendants as well as witnesses, whenever it is necessary to support the effective participation of a defendant in any part of their trial.

Click 'read more' for the full story and our reaction

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Commenting on the report of the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities, Peter Dawson, Director of the Prison Reform Trust, said:

“For all its claimed emphasis on following the evidence, this complacent report turns a blind eye to the grossly disproportionate outcomes for Black people both in prison and on their journey to it. By contrast, The Lammy report of 2017, commissioned by a Tory Prime Minister from a prominent Labour politician, gave a compelling and authoritative account of racial discrimination in the criminal justice system. The majority of its recommendations remain unimplemented, and the government’s current proposals on sentencing, by its own assessment,  will make the problem worse. Blithe optimism is no substitute for the clear eyed analysis and hard work needed to change a system  that discriminates from beginning to end.”

Click here to read more about the Prison Reform Trust's work on tackling racial disparities in the criminal justice system

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Writing for the i our Head of Research, Dr Kimmett Edgar outlines the extraordinary conditions that people in prison have been held in during the last 12 months, and questions why the government are intent on introducing new sentencing measures which even its own minister admits are unevidenced.

Click 'read more' to read the full article

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The pandemic: One year on

24/03/2021 09:00:00

Today marks a year since the announcement that prisons in England and Wales were to temporarily close to visitors, following government instructions for people to stay at home.

At that time, few could have imagined that the dramatic restrictions, introduced to safeguard against the predicted widespread loss of life in prisons, would still be in place a year on.

Our CAPPTIVE project, created in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, has heard from hundreds of people in prison about the reality of daily life and near total isolation behind cell doors for the last 12 months.

The stoicism and solidarity between prisoners and staff, often under intolerable pressures, have provided light in the darkness. But nothing can dull the pain of full days spent in isolation and inactivity.

No-one yet knows what the lasting damage to people’s mental and physical health of that unprecedented regime will be. As the lockdown in prisons has stretched on— whilst the wider community outside looks ahead to the easing of restrictions—those in prison remain fearful and unsure of what the future holds.

Prisons will face huge challenges as they work to re-establish normal regimes. But one thing the pandemic has shown is that rehabilitation and public safety don’t come from locking people up in 9 by 6ft cells all day, every day. These come only from a way of life in prison that allows relationships between staff and prisoners to form and for trust to be built.

As we mark this most unhappy of anniversaries the Prison Reform Trust remains here for people in prison and their families at this extraordinary time, and will continue to be there for as long as it takes.

You can find out more about our work during the pandemic by clicking here.

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Commenting on the findings of today’s (16 March) thematic report on race equality by HM Inspectorate of Probation, Peter Dawson, director of the Prison Reform Trust said:

“Different elements of the criminal justice system have regressed in their efforts to tackle race discrimination, despite the clearest possible roadmap for change from the Lammy report, and an apparent acceptance by the government of the need to either ‘explain or reform’.  This report highlights the urgent need for a renewed focus on tackling racial disparities across criminal justice agencies. The frequent assertion that we have the finest system of justice in the world simply doesn’t match up to the reality exposed by this and other inspection findings.”

This important report confirms the conclusion reached by Beverley Thompson OBE, writing in the Prison Reform Trust’s Bromley Briefings Prison Factfile, that the prison and probation service has regressed in its efforts to tackle racial disparities. Click here to read.

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