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10 November 2020

PRT & Howard League letter to Robert Buckland—transparency and reassurance needed as winter approaches

The Prison Reform Trust and the Howard League for Penal Reform have written to the Lord Chancellor, Robert Buckland today in the light of the rapidly developing situation in prisons in relation to outbreaks of Covid-19.

The letter calls for greater transparency, to ensure that prisoners and their families are able to understand the basis on which decisions are being taken, including the publication of evidence and advice received by ministers on the risks of transmission in prisons; and the different measures taken to contain the spread of Covid-19.

It also highlights a number of policy decisions which the charities believe could and should be taken now to reassure prisoners and their families about the difficult months ahead. These include:

  • devising a much simpler, more generous and therefore more effective scheme for the conditional early release of prisoners to make space within the estate to improve infection control;
  • the continuation of additional phone credit, free video calls and access on compassionate grounds to communication through electronic means; and
  • ensuring that opportunities for progression for adult prisoners whose prospects of release on parole are prioritised.

Click here to read a copy of the letter.