The Liberal Democrats are backing calls by prison governors to reduce overcrowding to slow the spread of coronavirus in prisons, following confirmation today of the first prisoner to die after contracting the virus.
Liberal Democrat Justice Spokesperson Daisy Cooper called on the Government to “urgently end overcrowding in prisons, including releasing prisoners serving short sentences and suspending any new short sentences.”
This echoes a warning yesterday from the Prison Governors Association, whose President Andrea Albutt told the Guardian: “If we have less prisoners doubled [up in cells], it will be easier to isolate those who’ve been confirmed as having the virus or have the symptoms, so we can delay the spread.”
Liberal Democrat Justice Spokesperson Daisy Cooper said:
“Already one prisoner has sadly died after contracting coronavirus. The Government must act quickly to prevent prisons becoming a crucible for the virus.
“We need to protect prison staff, prisoners and our communities from this pandemic. But there is no chance of social distancing in prisons while they are so overcrowded, with many prisoners sharing cells built for one person.
“The Government must listen to prison governors and urgently end overcrowding in prisons. It should release prisoners serving short sentences and suspend any new short sentences.
“With tough licence conditions and electronic tagging, we can keep our communities safe from crime while also slowing the spread of coronavirus.”