The UK prison population has been placed on lockdown to stop the spread of the virus amongst prisoners.
As part of the measures, prisoners will remain locked up in their cells but will be allowed access to showers, phones (where no in-cell telephony is available) and exercise – with the application of social distancing principles.
‘Essential’ workers within the prison population will be allowed out of their cells to continue with their work. This includes kitchen workers, laundry, and cleaning workers.
Prisoners will not be allowed social visitors.
Prisoners who are due to go to court will be discharged to attend unless the Courts Service advise otherwise.
Commenting on the decision National Chair Mark Fairhurst stated:
‘I will publicly support any Government or party leader who places the best interests of POA members at the forefront of their concerns.
‘I am pleased that over the past few weeks the POA have worked constructively and in partnership with Her Majesty’s Government and HMPPS to put measures in place that protect all those who inhabit or work in our prisons.
‘We will continue to contribute to ensuring our Prisons maintain stability and avoid as much as possible the spread of this virus.
‘I would like to place on record my thanks to all who have taken the concerns of frontline staff seriously.
‘These unprecedented times prove the worth of trade unions as a strong advocate for working people. Our brave frontline staff deserve the respect of all.’
General Secretary Steve Gillan added:
‘The POA recognise that Prison staff are key workers, but the Prime Minister statement is a game-changer.
‘It was always envisaged that regimes would be kept as normal as possible, but that position has now altered, and the POA will continue to work with Government and Employer to keep our members and prisoners as safe as possible.
‘These restrictions will bring their own challenges operationally, but the Director General Phil Copple has made the correct decision.’
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