The Prison Officers Association has said that it supports the government’s decision to release low-risk prisoners from prison early.
The Secretary of State for Justice, Robert Buckland, announced that low-risk prisoners would be released as early as next week.
In a private meeting that was held today (4th April) between the Lord Chancellor and representatives from the Prison Officers Association (POA), the Lord Chancellor confirmed that up to 4,000 prisoners who are in the last two months of their Automatic Early Release date would be released from Prisons under home detention curfew conditions.
This will mean that early release prisoners will have to wear an ankle tag and will have to have ‘stable’ accommodation in place.
The measures are intended to relieve the pressure on frontline prison staff and the prison system during the COVID-19 national emergency.
Commenting on these developments, National Chair Mark Fairhurst welcomed the decision:
“I welcome any measures that relieve the pressure on our brave frontline staff during these unprecedented times, and I support this declaration by the Secretary of State for Justice.
“It is essential that those being released pose no risk to the public and get tested for CIOVID 19 prior to release.
“Victims of crime should not be forgotten when such decisions are made, and a balance must be struck between the safety of staff and the general public”.
General Secretary Steve Gillan also welcomed the decision:
“This is a good decision by the Lord Chancellor and one in which I support.
“This is critical to free up spaces in our jails and could be the difference between life and death during this pandemic.
“This needs to be done quickly and effectively if it is to have any impact on our overcrowded Prisons.
“Safety of our members and those in our care are essential during this COVID-19 crisis.
“But there can be no delay in these Executive releases as each day is critical to stopping the virus spreading in our prison system”.
On 31st March, an 84-year-old man became the first British prisoner to die after contracting COVID-19.
So far, two prisoners have died from COVID-19, while at least 55 prisoners have tested positive.
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