Inmates locked up for 23 hours due to Covid is ‘dangerous’ warns chief of prisons

Inmates locked up for 23 hours due to Covid is ‘dangerous’ warns chief of prisons.

In an interview with BBC Newsnight, HM Chief Inspector of Prisons, Peter Clark, said keeping inmates in their cells for such lengthy periods under Covid restrictions impacted on their mental health.

While the Prison Officers’ Association (POA) claims the move to reduce the spread of the virus has led to a drop in violence and self harm, Clark disagrees claiming the argument is “shallow”.

He said self harm was in fact on the rise in women’s prisons.

The inspectorate for England and Wales, who is due to step down from his role at the end of October, has visited dozens of prisons since the start of the pandemic, and said inmates spending 23 hours each day in their cells has become common practice.

Sentenced prisoners can leave their cells to attend work or education, to socialise for brief periods and to exercise.

But since lockdown, these activities have been restricted.

Clark said this amounts to “solitary confinement”, adding that “we as a nation surely cannot say that that is acceptable.”

National chairman of the POA, Mark Fairhurst, said no-one wants to see prisoners kept in their cells for such lengthy periods, but reminded that there are currently 20 outbreak sites.

Clark has called on Justice Secretary Robert Buckland to work with the leadership in prisons to find a workable solution for however long the health crisis continues to last.

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Written by

Tara Rippin

Tara Rippin is a reporter for Spain’s largest English-speaking newspaper, Euro Weekly News, and is responsible for the Costa Blanca region.
She has been in journalism for more than 20 years, having worked for local newspapers in the Midlands, UK, before relocating to Spain in 1990.
Since arriving, the mother-of-one has made her home on the Costa Blanca, while spending 18 months at the EWN head office in Fuengirola on the Costa del Sol.
She loves being part of a community that has a wonderful expat and Spanish mix, and strives to bring the latest and most relevant news to EWN’s loyal and valued readers.

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