Detailed guide: Coronavirus (COVID-19) and prisons

Ministry Of Justice

March 24
17:59 2020

This page provides guidance for visitors and the families and friends of those in prison in England and Wales during the coronavirus pandemic. It will be updated as new advice becomes available.

Prison visits in England and Wales

Prison visits are temporarily cancelled following instructions for people to stay at home.

Staying at home is how we reduce the number of people needing hospital treatment at any one time, so we can protect the NHSs ability to cope and save more lives.

There are a number of other ways to contact someone in prison if you are unable to visit them. For example you might be able to leave a voice message using the Prison Voicemail Service or send them an email using the email a prisoner service. You can also write to them.

There are also a number of other helplines that can provide guidance.

Prisons and coronavirus: the latest situation

Prisons have been working closely with Public Health and NHS services to put robust contingency plans in place. The plans prioritise the safety of staff, prisoners and visitors while ensuring that there is as little disruption as possible to normal prison regimes, including visits.

Existing, well-developed procedures are in place to manage outbreaks of infectious diseases and prisons are prepared if cases are identified. Plans are in place for dealing with staff absences if staff working in prisons need to self-isolate.

Handwashing facilities are available to prisoners, staff and visitors and we have worked closely with suppliers to ensure the supply of soap and cleaning materials.

How we will update you about the impact of coronavirus on prisons

If there are changes to the general advice for visitors or the operation of the prison system, we will:

  • Update advice on this guidance page
  • Issue updates on Twitter @HMPPS and @MoJGovUK

If there are changes to the operation of individual prisons, you can stay up to date by:

  • Going to the individual prison page on the Prison Finder
  • Following the prisons Twitter account

We also have a range of ways to communicate advice and guidance to people in prison, including National Prison Radio

If you have urgent concerns about someone in prison during the coronavirus outbreak

If you have urgent concerns about someone in prison you should call the prison direct. Contact details are available on the Prison Finder.

Published 13 March 2020
Last updated 24 March 2020 +show all updates
  1. Added an update to say prison visits are temporarily cancelled.

  2. Added information about visits being closed to visitors on 24 March

  3. Updates to list of affected prisons.

  4. Addition of a confirmed case of coronavirus at HMP Manchester.

  5. Updated to reflect new guidance issued on 16 March.

  6. First published.

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