Prisoners: Females

(asked on 7th July 2020) - View Source

Question to the Ministry of Justice:

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, in the event that covid-19 lockdown restrictions in prisons are maintained or re-imposed, what steps the HM Prison and Probation Service is taking to ensure that women in prisons are able to access support, education and training services; and if he will extend the use of (a) Purple Visits and (b) other digital solutions to the provision of support services in prisons.


Answered by
Lucy Frazer Portrait
Lucy Frazer
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
This question was answered on 15th July 2020

Since 24 March, prisons have been operating under restricted regimes, to comply with social distancing guidelines. The decision to implement these restrictions was not taken lightly - it was based on public health advice and mirrored the restrictions faced by the whole country, and we know the difficult impact this has on women, and particularly mothers in prison.

But there is no question that the measures helped save lives and, as a result, some prisons are now able to begin easing restrictions. Through the Gate services which provide employment and accommodation support have continued to be delivered, with priority given to those nearing release, and those being released early through the Covid-19 early release schemes.

While formal education and training programmes were temporarily suspended we have worked collaboratively with our partners to develop and provide a range of learning materials and distraction packs that can be used in cell to support continued learning during this period. Now this work is beginning again, and staff are using new ways of working to ensure they are delivered safely in establishments.

Further resources tailored to the specific needs of women are currently in development, with women currently in custody having helped develop them.

Work is currently taking place around future employment with the New Futures Network and within the women's estate a short/medium and long term strategy is being developed looking at how we can address ROTL and employment upon release.

Psychology services have also continued to be available for priority cases and they have been delivered remotely using phone or face-to-face contact where it has been possible to facilitate this.

HMPPS has put a range of digital solutions in place to support the working of the criminal justice system during the lock-down and to support prisoners maintaining contact with family and friends. These include additional video conferencing capability for conducting parole hearings and video calling for prisoners with family and friends

In line with the recommendations of Lord Farmer’s reviews, we have prioritised the rollout of video calling in the women’s estate. Whilst this current video call service is a temporary measure, intended for use whilst contact with family and friends is limited, we are considering the benefits of maintaining these digital solutions in the longer term. This would help meet Lord Farmer’s recommendations and ensure that we have capability to manage any future lock-downs.

This content was generated for your convenience by Parallel Parliament and does not form part of the official record.
Recent Documents related to Prisoners: Females

1. HM Chief Inspector of Prisons annual report: 2020 to 2021
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2. COVID-19: National Framework for Prison Regimes and Services
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