Updated Wednesday 24 June
As announcements of changes to the lockdown continue to be released by the government, please be assured that we are working hard to prepare to ease the restrictions on the regime we are able to operate. However, changes will be slower than those seen in the wider community. Details of changes will be communicated as soon as possible, in the meantime please find below a letter from Damian Evans, Director of HMP Peterborough, which outlines what has been done so far to keep residents and staff safe, as well as some information on how we are looking to move forward.
Also available to read is a letter from Phil Copple, Director General of Prisons. His message relates to the impact of Covid-19 across the whole of the prison sector in England and Wales, as well as setting out the direction of travel being put in place for all establishments, both public and private sector. Click here to read the message.
A letter from the Director to the friends and families of residents at HMP YOI Peterborough (first published 15 June 2020)
For many weeks now, we have all been living with the realities of the Covid-19 pandemic, with restrictions having a significant impact on our daily lives. The prison system has had to make some very difficult decisions during this time, including the suspension of all visits.
It’s never easy when a friend or loved one goes to prison, meaning that you are not able to see them as often as you would like to. In these challenging times it is even harder to keep in touch and this has been – and continues to be – one of our biggest concerns for the wellbeing of our residents.
It has been an extremely challenging time for residents and I understand that it is very upsetting and stressful for you, too.
Unfortunately, the suspension of all visits was necessary to help to minimise the risk of infection, but also to comply with the national restrictions on travel.
We have put in the following measures to try to help you to keep in contact as easily as possible while we all work together through the challenges we are facing:
Throughout this crisis the health, safety and wellbeing or our residents and staff has remained paramount. We have implemented a range of measures to minimise the risks to everyone, including:
Over recent days we have seen a limited relaxation of some of the restrictions in the community, which will no doubt be raising expectations for changes in prisons as well. Prisons are environments where, if not managed carefully, infections could spread more easily, so it is very important that whatever changes we make to relax the restrictions are done gradually and carefully.
We are going to be provided with frameworks by Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service (HMPPS) which will clearly set out how we can make changes. Please bear with us and keep in mind that changes to the prison are likely to look and feel slower than those in the wider community.
We understand that social visits are what both you and residents want to see re-established as a priority – we’re keen to re-start these too as we know how important they are for residents’ wellbeing, as well as setting your minds at ease. We don’t yet know when visits will be able to re-start, but we’re already putting plans together to prepare for the changes required.
Please be aware that when visits can re-start, they are likely to feel quite different to the way they used to be. We’ll let you know the details as soon as we can so that you know what to expect.
While we are unable to offer visits, please do make use of the other routes of contact available to you, including EmailAPrisoner, letters and telephone calls.
We understand that these are difficult, challenging times. If you have any concerns for the wellbeing of a resident, please contact our Safer Custody service on 01733 217577 (answerphone). Messages left on this service are monitored Monday to Friday by the Safer Prisons team who will direct your concern to the appropriate team. Alternatively, you can contact our Family Matters Team on 01733 217500 or by email to PBFamilyMatters@sodexogov.co.uk.
For urgent matters affecting the safety of a resident, please call the main switchboard on 01733 217500 and hold until you are connected to the operator.
I’m pleased that feedback from residents has generally been very positive about the measures we’ve taken and I hope that you find this letter reassuring.
Thank you for your understanding and support during this difficult time.
Director, HMP YOI Peterborough
Further government guidance is available here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-and-prisons?dm_i=2OYA,10S05,7A50WP,3VSJ0,1#history