Nineteen inmates across 10 UK prisons have tested positive for coronavirus, the Ministry of Justice has confirmed.
It comes after it was announced yesterday that prisons across England and Wales would be shutting down jail visits in an effort to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
A number of prisons have already confirmed cases of COVID-19 as cases soar across the UK and Boris Johnson orders Britons to stay inside.
However anxiety inside jails over coronavirus continues to grow due to the close proximity of prisoners and fears staff will go off sick with the disease.
Yesterday the Ministry of Justice confirmed that visitors would no longer be allowed to enter the establishments in an effort to keep staff, inmates and families safe and protect the NHS’s ability to cope with the surge in coronavirus cases.
Yesterday the Ministry of Justice confirmed that visitors would no longer be allowed to enter the establishments in an effort to keep staff, inmates and families safe and protect the NHS’s ability to cope with the surge in coronavirus cases
The Prisoner Officer’s Association (POA) also confirmed that inmates would be locked up for most hours of the day and would be let out only to access necessities such as showers or to use the phones and exercise.
National chair of the POA, Mark Fairhurst, confirmed that the new plans were approved on Monday night after talks with the government brought to light that more prisoners were showing symptoms of the coronavirus.
He told The Independent: ‘More and more staff are self-isolating, more and more prisoners are showing symptoms of Covid-19, and in order to protect staff, prisoners and the general public, it is now necessary to self-isolate our prisoners to stop the spread.’
He added: ‘We’ve continued to work normally for as long as we possibly can and I think families of prisoners will be relieved that they’re not at risks and prisoners will be relieved that their loved ones will be safe at home instead of travelling all over the country into packed visit halls and putting themselves at risk.
‘In my local prison, HMP Liverpool, prisoners have been asking why they haven’t been locked down yet, so we’re hoping there will be a sensible reaction from prisoners. They must realise that this is for their safety and their loved ones.’
HMP Oakwood , HMP Manchester and HMP High Down have all confirmed cases of coronavirus.
On Monday, Police were called to Addiewell Prison in West Lothian, Scotland, after rioting prisoners carrying metal bars were said to have ‘smashed up’ part of the jail and stabbed a prison officer who had been taken hostage.
A source told the Daily Record: ‘A hardcore of prisoners at HMP Addiewell went on the rampage and smashed things up, leading to a lockdown.
‘They situation there has been growing more tense every day, as there is no effective way to apply social distancing inside a jail.
A Scottish Prison Service spokeswoman said the incident had now been dealt with.
She said: ‘An incident took place yesterday in HMP Addiewell where a small number of individuals were involved in a disturbance in one section of the establishment.
‘The incident was brought to a safe conclusion and the prison was secured on Monday night. The individuals involved have been reported to Police Scotland.’