Updated Wednesday 3 June
For the past 10 weeks 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 take some very difficult decisions during this time, including the suspension of all visits. It has been an extremely challenging time for residents, their families and our staff – I want to express my thanks for their continuing support and understanding as we work together through these unprecedented times.
Throughout this crisis the health, safety and wellbeing of our residents and staff has remained paramount. A range of measures has been implemented to minimise the risks including social distancing, a restricted regime and non-contact temperature testing for everyone entering the prison. We are following all guidance and instructions issued to prisons to ensure that we operate safely.
Over recent days we have seen a limited relaxation of some of the restrictions in the community, and many people may be expecting to see some changes in prisons as well. Prisons are environments where, if not carefully managed, infections could spread more easily so it is important that any re-introduction of the regime is progressed gradually and carefully and fully in line with frameworks set by HMPPS for the prison system as a whole – with the safety of residents and staff of paramount importance. So please bear in mind that changes are likely to look and feel slower than in the community outside.
We understand that social visits are what both residents and their families want to see re-established as a priority, and we’re keen to do this as well as we know how important it is to see loved ones. We don’t yet know when visits will re-commence but we are engaged in preparatory work. Please remember that when they do re-start they are likely to operate in a way very different from before, and we’ll let residents and visitors know in advance so that you can come prepared.
While we remain unable to offer visits, we encourage family and friends to keep in contact with their loved ones using the various options currently available, including the ‘Email A Prisoner’ service and by telephone. Our telephony provider has kindly reduced the cost of PIN phone calls to enable residents to have longer telephone calls at lower cost.
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 (answer phone). 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 via email to PBFamilyMatters@sodexogov.co.uk For urgent matters affecting the safety of a resident, please telephone the main switchboard on 01733 217500 and hold until you are connected to the operator.
Thank you for your understanding and support during this difficult time.
Further government guidance is available here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-and-prisons?dm_i=2OYA,10S05,7A50WP,3VSJ0,1#history