There is no doubt that the new strain of Covid-19 has forced closures on a number of establishments, but over the recent events covering the rapid spread, courts have now been advised to shut their doors in the hope to prevent a further outbreak in Prisons across the UK.
A source has revealed that this has come from an outbreak within Prisons across Wales forcing them to shut their doors in the hope to protect the inmates from further spread. It comes as data reveals a large rise in cases in Welsh prisons.
The POA has stated that there were a number of factors affecting the rise in numbers, including: The transfers between prisons, and having a large number of men being unlocked at once with the Cardiff Prison therefore allowing the spread to rapidly increase.
A spokesman from the Prison Officer’s Union (POA) Mark Fairhurst, said there had been a rise in numbers during the outbreak within HMP Cardiff, they have said that they are now struggling to find space for new arrivals to isolate and the shielding process.
However, the Prison Service spokesman had said that shielding, mass testing and limited regimes were in place at all prisons to help combat the spread.
They have said that these safeguarding measures were limiting transmission, and programmes to test prisoners arriving in court were being rolled out – with this in place, they have said that are no plans to shut courts however.
Mr Fairhurst spoke out however regarding the courts, he had said that trials which are already ongoing should be able to continue, but any new cases brought to court should be facilitated via a video link.
Cases in HMP Cardiff rose from 22 in June to 110 in November and, while testing has increased in that time, HMP Swansea‘s cases rose from just 12 to 14 in the same period.
The rate of growth in cases in prisons is still well below the wider population.
Coronavirus cases within Welsh Prisons
Figures show that between June to November, there was a significant increase in cases, the increase shows a 436% rise across welsh prisons alone compared to the 210% rise in the same time period. That means we saw a rise from 22 cases in June to 110 cases in November.
Yet cases at HMP Swansea – which, like Cardiff, is an old site taking men on remand from the local courts – rose marginally from 12 to 14.
HMP Berwyn cases rose from 41 to 61 (48%), and at HMP Parc cases increased from seven to 44 (528%).
We need to keep the courts open – Solicitor Griffiths states
Solicitor Melissa Griffiths has said that right now the courts are busier than ever, so they have seen the courts as a priority to keep open.
She goes onto to say that “Every time you go to court is a risk – you don’t know who you are coming into contact with. But if you do not have the courts carrying on it is all going to fall apart.
“You need remand in courts because there will always be serious crimes committed and those people need to be remanded into custody.”
She continued to add that the court closures at the start of the pandemic caused a backlog in cases that is yet to be cleared and so priority is given to those in custody before custody time limits expire.
Measures are being put into place across all UK Prisons, but the unknown is still causing high pressures for staff and the safeguarding of all of those involved in the Prisons.