Corona Virus and Prisons


In these unprecedented times, I put out an urgent request for you to email your MP/ministers with the following message, in an attempt to stop or minimise the possible dire consequences to part of the prison population. Margaret FASO 19.3.20

(See elsewhere for the FASO response to the elderly health care in prison consultation)

Dear MP /Minister

In the current COVID-19 crisis it is imperative that prisoners are not excluded from the nationwide emphasis on reducing risk for vulnerable people who have been identified as the most likely to suffer serious symptoms or die from the virus. In particular, those most vulnerable have been identified to be the over 70s and those with underlying health conditions. Accordingly, we request that appropriate Cat B/C/D elderly and vulnerable prisoners who meet these criteria are released to their families or other suitable environments where their health can be more suitably protected and/or treated.

The vast majority of vulnerable and especially elderly prisoners are of no realistic danger to society yet their continued incarceration during the current pandemic, often in overcrowded conditions which could cause rapid transmission of the virus, is extremely dangerous for their health and those around them such as prison staff.

Please raise this matter urgently with the relevant Ministers.

Thank you”


1 Courts during coronavirus pandemic: Robert Buckland statement

Please see below for a selection of key paragraphs from the statement (link above):

“I recognise the impact that this will have on those witnesses and victims who will have to wait longer to see justice delivered in their cases. We will also make arrangements to extend custody time limits for defendants held on remand in these cases.”

“Crown Court trials will be able to continue despite this restriction. Those cases that have a trial date delayed will be heard at the earliest available opportunity.”

“Our Crown and Magistrates courts provide a vital public service and until instructed otherwise, we expect all lawyers, magistrates, jurors, witnesses, defendants and court staff to continue to attend court as required, so the interests of justice can be served.”

2 Coronavirus (COVID-19) update from the Lord Chief Justice

17 March 2020 |News|COVID-19

Please see below for a selection of key paragraphs from the statement (link above):

“Given the rapidly evolving situation, there is an urgent need to increase the use of telephone and video technology immediately to hold remote hearings where possible. Emergency legislation is being drafted which is likely to contain clauses that expand the powers in criminal courts to use technology in a wider range of hearings. The Civil Procedure Rules and Family Procedure Rules provide for considerable flexibility.”

“Our immediate aim is to maintain a service to the public, ensure as many hearings in all jurisdictions can proceed and continue to deal with all urgent matters.”


3. A paragraph from the statement by Minster of State Lucy Frazer QC MP regarding prison preparedness for the current pandemic (link above):

“We understand that prisoners and their loved ones might be concerned about the situation. But we can assure them that we will continue to operate normal regimes, with the minimum disruption, for as long as we can. This will include visits to prisoners but, in line with Public Health advice for the general public, we urge any friend or family member not to come to a prison for visit if they have any symptoms associated with COVID-19 – a fever or new, persistent cough. We are also looking into ways to keep prisoners in close contact with their families in all eventualities, and will share further information as and when necessary.”

Coronavirus (COVID-19) and prisons

The above link contains information under the following headings:

  1. Coronavirus in prisons: confirmed cases
  2. Prisons and coronavirus: the latest situation
  3. Visiting prisons during the coronavirus outbreak
  4. Other ways to get in touch with prisoners during the coronavirus outbreak
  5. How we will update you about the impact of coronavirus on prisons
  6. If you have urgent concerns about someone in prison during the coronavirus outbreak

Please see below for a key paragraph:

“We understand that visitors and prisoners may have particular concerns about visits during this period. If you are planning a visit, it is essential that you read this guidance and stay at home if it applies to you.


4. Coroner virus bill – Temporary legislation above

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