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April 4, 2020 7:57 PM

Kate Smith

With the Coronavirus spreading at alarming rates, the Ministry of Justice are considering releasing "a limited number" of some low-risk prisoners in order to take pressure off the overstretched Prisons system. These include women, some of whom are pregnant or otherwise vulnerable to Coronavirus, with pre-existing respiratory disease and a range of other ill-health, notably mental ill-health.

There have been reports that the conditions in which a high proportion of women inmates are currently being held are breeding-grounds for the Virus. There is a chronic problem of lack of space in cells and (for example) small canteen tables seating up to four. Says Kate, "The long-term issues have really been highlighted by the Virus in the last few weeks, with many women inmates showing likely symptoms. Staff shortages mean that often women are locked in-cell for up to 23 hours a day, with little access to showers, clean phones or Prison Officer support."

There is as yet no testing available in the Prison system, and, adds Kate, "It's completely unacceptable that there is no Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for staff or inmates. No masks, no soap or hand sanitiser - little wonder that self-esteem has plummeted and there have been suicide attempts. Most of these early releases cannot come soon enough for these women and their families."


Kate Smith is the Lib Dems' Derbyshire candidate for Police and Crime Commissioner. She is an experienced Councillor and campaigner and has stood for Parliament numerous times. One of her key casework areas has been law and order and the justice system