Last Friday, our colleagues at The Howard League for Penal Reform and the Prison Reform Trust took an unprecedented step and sent a formal letter before claim to the Secretary of State for Justice, Robert Buckland. We know this action would not have been taken lightly.
First, we want to thank these organisations for continuing to raise the important issue of how the Coronavirus pandemic is impacting the prison population, affecting staff, inmates, all of their families, friends and loved ones.
Despite commitments made by the MoJ, earlier in April, progress to reduce the overcrowded prison population has been too slow and, for this reason, we add our voice to the growing concerns.
Second, as highlighted in the blog in the April edition of our newsletter, Spotlight, unless more action is taken to reduce the prison population across all estates, especially among those who are most vulnerable to Coronavirus, the consequences will be dire.
Yvonne MacNamara, CEO of the Traveller Movement: We know Coronavirus is having a disproportionate impact on people from BAME groups; we know people from BAME groups, including people from the GRT ethnic groups are over represented in the prison population. We do not want to see these negative trends replicated within custodial settings. We are urging the MoJ to address these issues, before it’s too late.
Patricia Stapleton, policy manager
Notes to Editor
* The Traveller Movement (TM) is a national community development policy and voice charity who campaign against discrimination, promote inclusion, participation and community engagement for the Irish Traveller and Gypsy communities in Britain. TM is proud to work in partnership with the Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities together with service providers and policy makers across the UK to better promote social inclusion and community cohesion.