Responding to reports that Public Health England and HM Prison and Probation Service have advised the Government that a reduction of 15,000 prisoners is needed to safeguard prisoners and staff during the coronavirus pandemic, Liberal Democrat Justice Spokesperson Daisy Cooper said:
"While prisons remain overcrowded, they risk becoming a crucible for coronavirus. The steps Ministers have announced to release some prisoners early are welcome, but – as prison governors are warning – they clearly do not go far enough.
"The Justice Secretary must publish the advice he has had from Public Health England and the Prison Service. If the Government has decided not to follow their advice, he should explain why.
"If the Government doesn’t listen to prison governors and expert advice, it risks creating a Covid crisis in our prisons.
"Ministers must urgently end overcrowding in prisons, including releasing all low-risk prisoners serving short sentences – not just those already reaching the final months of their sentence."