Keep Calm – and wash your hands!

Keep Calm – and wash your hands!

Today Inside Time – the magazine for prisoners and their families reports that at present prisons will stick with normal regimes as long as possible.

Inside Time published an article today which comments :

“Jails will stick with normal regimes and visits “for as long as possible” in the face of the coronavirus epidemic, the Government has said.

Prisons Minister Lucy Frazer QC MP said there was “a huge amount of work taking place” to plan for the impact of COVID-19. She said the top priority was the safety and wellbeing of staff, prisoners and visitors.

The attempt to carry on as normal comes despite fears that prisons will be badly hit by the disease. Andrea Albutt, president of the Prison Governors’ Association, said it was likely that some prisoners would die.”

Inside Time –

The article goes on to quote a statement made by Lucy Frazer MP on March 12th :

” Prisons have existing, well-developed policies and procedures in place to manage outbreaks of infectious diseases. This means prisons are well prepared to take immediate action whenever cases or suspected cases are identified, including isolating individuals where necessary.

Basic hygiene is a key part of tackling the virus and good practice is being promoted on posters throughout the estate. Hand-washing facilities are available to all prisoners – not just in cells but other shared areas such as education blocks and kitchens. Staff and visitors also have access to hand-washing facilities and we have worked closely with suppliers to ensure adequate supply of soap and cleaning materials.

“We understand that prisoners and their loved ones might be concerned about the situation. But we can assure them that we will continue to operate normal regimes, with the minimum disruption, for as long as we can. This will include visits to prisoners.”

Inside Time –

Worrying stuff!

As prison chaplains we have almost a unique level of access within the prison system. Members of our team are frequent visitors to a number of local prisons. It is an important part of meeting, befriending and building the understanding and trust which is needed to help support those leaving prison. It is a vital part of assessing those who are ready to make the right life choices upon release.

But with the risk of introducing Coronavirus in to prisons rising, and with the level of problems that can cause, we shall be keeping a close eye on what are considered best practice guidelines about visits within the prison system, and act accordingly.

Sadly the opinion in the office at present is that it will simply be a matter of time before we reach a lockdown situation – both within the prisons and quite probably in wider society.