Kerry McCarthy Labour MP for Bristol East
Earlier this week at Justice Questions, I asked the Minister for Justice about what he was doing to ensure that prisons are able to reopen for family visits soon. Research has shown that one of the most important elements in prisoners’ rehabilitation is whether they can maintain family ties when they are inside, and many family members and friends they have left behind at home are anxious for visits to resume too.
Government guidance from 29th March states that prisons will be able to reopen for visits once they reach Stage 3 in the National Framework, which sets out where a prison is in terms of Covid infections and how able they are to keep things under control. However, I have been made aware of at least one prison that has reached Stage 3 but is still not allowing visits.
Although the Minister clarified that some of this decision comes down to the discretion of individual governors, the Government must take action to monitor this situation, to give families of people serving sentences in prison the clarity and reassurance they need.