This morning, HMP Lowdham Grange has announced that after several positive tests throughout staff and prisoners, that they are going into lockdown.
A number of prisoners and staff are self-isolating, a restricted regime has begun, and all visits have now been stopped.
This lockdown period is said to initially be for 2 weeks, but I think we have all learnt that we just don’t know anymore, and plans are for fools.
HMP Lowdham Grange are the first prison to speak out openly about going back into a lockdown, however, gathering information regarding prisons and COVID cases has proven to be very difficult, especially if the information isn’t necessarily positive.
Will all prisons go into lockdown again?
My opinion is probably. It’s all very unpredictable, however, on the outside it seems that we will be flitting in and out of various stages of a lockdown of some sort, and I believe that we may be doing this until a vaccine is found. When that will be, who knows? But I can see the prison system going through the same process until the time when a vaccine is readily available.
Where can families gather information?
Information is available on the government website. Prison Phone will also share any COVID related stories from the press on our social media pages. There is also the Support Community PrisonPhone Facebook group. There are lots of members who are going through similar experiences with a loved one in prison. Posts can be put up by yourself requesting information or support, alternatively you can message the page and ask for an anonymous post.
What help is there for families?
So currently within UK prisons there are several things that have been put in, in order to help prisoners and their families. In England and Wales some prisons have been given additional phone credit, there is also video visits available through Purple Visits, which are currently free at one virtual visit per month. Prisons in Scotland are running a similar feature with virtual visits via Email a Prisoner, which I believe are also free.
All prisoners are entitled to one virtual visit a month, with anyone who is on their approved visitor list.
Most prisons are also now on Twitter, so it may be worth downloading Twitter and creating account just to keep an eye on the accounts for the individual prisons.
There is an informative page on the government website which is a list of Q and A’s for families and friends of prisoners, click here for more.