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Earlier this year at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic we set out some calls to Government to ensure that people in the criminal justice system were kept safe and risk of harm was reduced.

As the 2nd wave of the pandemic hits and the country goes into different stages of lockdown, we need to learn the lessons of recent months and ensure the right measures are in place to reduce harm. Keeping people safe as they leave prison both helps them stay safe and protects communities.

1) That’s why we are calling again for a #ReleasePack for all prison leavers, ensuring they receive crucial elements of resettlement support to keep themselves and others safe. In the Release Pack, we want to see:

  • mobile phones (as remote support is critical)
  • guarantee of somewhere to live
  • basic essentials including food & toiletries
  • health support
  • immediate financial support
  • COVID-19 resources (info, hand sanitiser and masks)

We saw positive steps taken on many of these Release Pack calls, but as some of these schemes have now ended, we are calling for these measures and more to be put in place again for the 2nd wave.Having somewhere to live is especially critical during this period. Earlier this year, Ministry of Justice committed funds to help people at risk of homelessness. With growing restrictions, we believe this scheme must be reinstated with a long-term plan to #BreakTheCycle of #CellStreetRepeat. It is wrong that there is no duty to provide accommodation for people being released from prison with symptoms of COVID-19 or for those who are required to self-isolate. This puts our communities and prison leavers at risk.

2) We also must look again at how to reduce the number of people in prison to diminish the risk of transmission and end the months of 23-hour cell lockdown that too many people have endured.We can do this by:

  • reinstating the early release scheme with wider remit and simplified processes
  • ensuring no one is sent to prison on a short sentence (which could be better served in community)
  • significantly reducing recall and remand

Lets give people in the criminal justice system the best chance at a second chance by keeping them safe and ensuring they have access to support on release.