Calls to release prisoners after 55 test positive for coronavirus

A TOTAL of 55 UK prisoners have tested positive for Covid-19, as ministers are urged to release inmates during the pandemic.

The Ministry of Justice has announced 18 prison staff and four prison escort staff have also been struck with the virus, while 3,500 employees – a 10th of the workforce – are currently off self-isolating. Staff numbers are already stretched and the pressure of the pandemic is becoming too much for some prisons to handle.

It comes after all jails in England and Wales were put on lockdown with visits cancelled. Inmates are now generally locked up and only allowed to access showers, phones and exercise with social distancing restrictions in place.

Pressure is being put on Justice Secretary Robert Buckland to allow convicted criminals to head home, in order to prevent more deaths in England and Wales’ crowded prisons. It comes after Northern Ireland signalled it would let out more than 10 per cent of those behind bars.

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Lizzie Day