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The Government must stop ignoring the coronavirus crisis in prisons

April 24, 2020 3:01 PM
Originally published by UK Liberal Democrats

Yesterday Liberal Democrat Peer and former Deputy First Minister for Wales, Lord German, led a debate in the Houses of Parliament to question the Government over their inaction in stopping the spread of coronavirus across prisons in England and Wales.

Mike German, who is our Spokesperson for Prison Reform in the House of Lords, raised the issue of overcrowding in prisons and overstretched prisons staff across England and Wales, making them "a perfect crucible" for coronavirus to spread.

Speaking in his debate, Mike German said:

"Throughout the coronavirus crisis, the Liberal Democrats have repeatedly warned the Government about the dangers posed by our already overstretched prisons and prisons staff. The fact that conditions in our prisons were so already poor has made them a perfect crucible for the disease.

The Government has refused to listen to the Liberal Democrats and others pointing out the danger in not properly protecting prisoners and prison staff from the virus, meaning numbers of inmates and staff with the disease have risen dramatically."

In the debate, Mike German explained that the government has three big questions to answer:

1) Has the government failed in its duty of duty of care to Prison staff and prisoners?
2) Have the government's acts to date been too little and too late?
3) Are the government's actions sufficient to safeguard the public from the community spread of coronavirus - has it adequately ensured that the safety of the public has not been put at risk?

By Ministers allowing coronavirus to spread through our prisons, they are not only failing in their duty of care, but threatening the public health of our communities.

The Government must stop ignoring the crisis and release all low-risk prisoners on short term sentences and suspend short term sentences without any further delay.