Wefan Gymraeg

Covid-19 infection rate in Welsh prisons tops 20%

Our current justice system is failing prison staff and inmates.

By Callum James Littlemore, Jun 08, 2020 1:06

The Welsh Liberal Democrats have reacted with shock at the situation of Covid-19 in Welsh Prisons, after new figures reveal an infection rate of more than 20% for prisoners.

Figures published by the UK Ministry of Justice have shown that Wales has 165 recorded cases of Covid-19 within prisons. This represents 12.4% of cases across England & Wales, with 1,329 total cases being logged - 882 Staff, 447 Prisoners.

Of the 165 recorded cases in Wales, 75 cases have been prison staff and 90 have been prisoners. These represent 8.5% and 20.1% of the respective England and Wales totals, showing the huge extent to which Welsh prison inmates are vulnerable to the virus.

In response, the Welsh Liberal Democrats have called for trasparency around what extra measures are being taken to contain the spread and treat those infected.

They've also called for a review into the prison system, looking both at the size of Welsh prisons and the way the current devolution settlement splits responsibility for justice and prisoner welfare.

Jane Dodds, Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats, said:

“The fact that 20% of Covid-19 cases in prisoners took place in Welsh prisons is shameful. The Welsh Liberal Democrats have repeatedly warned the situation in our prisons has been out of control.

"We now need urgent transparency about what steps are being taken to get to grips with this dire situation and protect the welfare of prison staff and residents.

“This is a wake up call. It is clear that locking people up in giant super prisons is not the solution and we need greater focus on rehabilitation - to get people reintegrated into society and break the cycle of reoffending.

“We also need justice to be fully devolved to Wales. It is ludicrous that the UK Government decides who gets locked up, but leaves the Welsh Government to do all the heavy lifting when it comes to prisoner health and wellbeing.

"I hope that both the UK and Welsh Government will be able to provide swift answers about what is being done to end the rampant spread of Covid-19 in our prisons."

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