By Tony Winterburn • 05 April 2020 • 8:30
THE government has outlined plans to release up to 4,000 low-risk prisoners to ease the pressure on the prison system as the coronavirus claims the lives of two officers working at HMP Pentonville, London.
The low-risk prisoners could start to be released next week and put under a home curfew to reduce the numbers behind bars and slow the spread of the virus, the public will be assured that no high-risk criminals – such as those who have been convicted of violent or sexual offences will be considered for the move.
To many working in the prison service, it was just a matter of time before staff, working in the frontline, became infected, fell ill, or died. The two men that died, Bovil Peter and Patrick Beckford, worked as support staff.
It is understood that both men where in their 60’s but as yet it is not known if they had any underlying health conditions, the Prison Officers Association said. Chairman Mark Fairhurst said: “My thoughts and prayers are with everybody involved with these tragic deaths.”
He added: “Two at the same prison is very concerning.”
Mr Peter was described as “an experienced member of staff” working at operational support grade at the prison, who “died earlier this week due to Covid-19 symptoms.”
Mr Fairhurst said of Mr Peter’s death: “I just want to highlight the fact that this [coronavirus] puts us all at risk. “We are on the front line doing a commendable job on behalf of society and he will be sadly missed by all his colleagues. We wish the best for his family and friends.”
A minute’s silence was held by staff at the prison after hearing their colleagues had died within days of each other earlier this week. A Prison Service spokesman said: “Our deepest sympathies are with their loved ones and colleagues at this difficult time.”
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