The Government acted quickly to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in prisons by implementing restricted regimes to comply with national social distancing guidance and limiting inter-prison transfers. Prisons have also implemented a ‘compartmentalisation’ strategy to isolate the sick, shield the vulnerable and quarantine new arrivals. Latest public health advice suggests these measures have limited the spread of the virus and minimised the number of deaths.
The decision as to where prisoners are transferred following a court appearance is managed by HMPPS. When local prisons have insufficient capacity in their reverse cohorting units to accept all prisoners from their assigned court(s) for that day, prisoners are diverted to another local prison where space is available in their reverse cohorting unit.In all cases, the receiving prison will always be suitable to manage the requirements of a newly remanded or convicted prisoner.
The table below shows the number of prisoners since 01st April who, rather than being taken to the local prison assigned to the court where their hearing was held, were diverted to another local prison where space was available in their reverse cohorting unit.
Total number of prisoners who, following a court appearance were diverted to another prison where space was available in their Reverse Cohorting Unit
Since 31 March, all inter-prison transfers have required approval by the HMPPS command structure before any transfer has taken place. Decisions to approve transfer take into account the available capacity in reverse cohorting units to ensure any prisoner transferred, can be held separately from the remainder of the general population in their new prison for 14 days. As such, there have been no prisoners diverted to another prison as a result of limited capacity in the reverse cohorting unit of the initially intended prison.