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09 July 2020

Robert Buckland writes to PRT and Howard League on the government’s response to Covid-19

Last month the Prison Reform Trust and Howard League for Penal Reform wrote to the Secretary of State for Justice, Robert Buckland, to highlight our shared concerns that people in prison continue to be held in conditions which are inhumane and untenable.

Most people in prison are either in prolonged solitary confinement or in overcrowded conditions. Despite the additional resources that have been given to prisons to cope with the crisis, each and every report from HM Inspectorate of Prisons has painted a clear, bleak picture: prisons are devoid of purposeful activity and opportunities for people to make amends.

We have now received a response to our letter, which you can read by clicking here.

Commenting, Peter Dawson, director of the Prison Reform Trust said:

“We have a received a long response to our letter, which describes a good deal of past activity and future intentions. It doesn’t describe the impact of all that activity beyond the very welcome outcome so far of a much lower death rate than seemed probable in the early stages of the pandemic.

“We know that the ministry holds far more information than it makes public about what is actually happening in prisons. Greater transparency would help at any time, but at the moment it is essential both for proper scrutiny of an exceptionally restrictive regime and, even more so, for prisoners and their families whose anxiety can only be fuelled by uncertainty.

“So we will continue to press in different ways for the ministry to be transparent and accountable. It needs to let people know whether what it says it is doing is actually turning into change on the ground“.