Covid-19 and our Advice and Information service

Like all organisations and individuals the Prison Reform Trust has been closely monitoring the developments and government advice following the Covid-19 outbreak. The safety of those who live and work in our prisons and that of PRT staff is our priority. In light of the latest government advice we are taking the following measures to uphold our collective safety, whilst continuing to deliver vital services to those in prison.

  • All planned visits to prisons by PRT staff have been cancelled.

  • Until further notice PRT staff will where possible work from home.

However, it is important that as an organisation we continue to be an impartial and authoritative source of advice and information for people in prison at this understandably confusing and challenging time.

  • Our advice service will continue to be available to people in prison. Please see below as for details of how you can still contact us during this time.

  • We will respond to letters, emailas and messages left on our answerphone as quickly as possible. However, response times may take longer than usual, so please do bear with us.

  • Any messages left on our answerphone will be checked and responded to, and we will continue to work with prisons constructively during this difficult time.

Whilst the focus for government and our prisons will rightly be on how best to respond to Covid-19, the Prison Reform Trust continues to have an important role to monitor as best we can how people in prison and their families are being looked after, and to be as constructive and imaginative as possible in suggesting ideas for mitigating their suffering.

You can keep up to date on some of the urgent work we are doing in relation to the Covid-19 pandemic here.

Peter Dawson
Director


Information about prison service response to Covid-19

This is understandably a worrying time for anyone with a loved one in prison.

The government has published guidance about measures in place in prison during the coronavirus outbreak, which is available at https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-and-prisons.

The prison service has also now published guidance on the following:

  • End of Custody Temporary Release (ECTR) – this means that some people in prison who are within two months of their release date can be temporarily released from custody, subject to strict criteria and risk assessments.
  • Use of Compassionate Release on Temporary Licence - this includes information about consideration of temporary release for pregnant women and those defined by the NHS guidelines as ‘extremely vulnerable’ to Covid-19

Full guidance can be found here

We have also written a summary of the new guidance which we can be found here

The prisons minister, Lucy Frazer has outlined the government’s response to Covid-19 in prisons, and guidance has been issued to all prisons which is available at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-prisons-and-other-prescribed-places-of-detention-guidance

The independent Advisory Panel on Deaths in Custody have also set up a Coronavirus Information Hub on their website where you can find 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. You can access it by clicking here.

 

How to get in touch

If you are a family member or a friend of someone in prison you may wish to contact the Prisoners' Families Helpline on 0808 808 2003 between 9am and 8pm.

Our Advice and Information service is currently unable to take calls. You can still contact our service in the following ways:

  • Leave a short voicemail on our freephone number - 0808 802 0060
  • Write to us at Prison Reform Trust, FREEPOST ND 6125, London EC1B 1PN
  • email us at advice@prisonreformtrust.org.uk

We will do our best to respond to all enquiries as quickly as possible.

For any urgent media enquiries please call 0207 689 7746 or 0207 689 7732