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INQUEST and Women in Prison have formed a powerful collation of signatories to call on the government to immediately reduce the number of prisoners and detainees in detention centres in light of the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. Both organisations are asking the government to make decisive steps in order to save lives as the number of inmates being tested positive for coronavirus continues to rise.
It has so far been announced that pregnant inmates would be granted temporary release provided that they wear an electronic tag. The government has said that only those considered to be a low risk to public will be able to leave.
It has been confirmed that three prisoners have so far died as a result of contracting coronavirus. By yesterday, 73 prisoners had tested positive across 27 prisons, in addition to 15 prison staff testing positive across 9 prisons. Director of INQUEST, Deborah Coles has described the impact of coronavirus on prisons as ‘catastrophic’, as deaths in custody are already considered to be at a historic high. Maintaining high numbers of prisoners will escalate the crisis by placing additional pressure on the provision of both physical and mental healthcare in prisons.
There is also the potential for there to be a detrimental impact on the mental health of prisoners and detainees, as they become increasingly isolated as a result of the suspension of family visits. This issue has been particularly highlighted in respect of detention centres, as vulnerable immigration detainees said to be at higher risk of death if they contract Covid-19 are to be placed in solitary confinement for at least three months.
If you require advice about an ongoing inquest, contact our inquest solicitors for support on 0113 887 1834. Alternatively, you can make an enquiry using our online enquiry form or emailing Natalie Marrison from our Inquest team and we will be in touch when it is convenient for you.