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Letter to Rt Hon Robert Buckland QC MP, Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice, on Covid-19

1 April 2020

“We do not underestimate the challenges the pandemic poses in respect of prisons and we accept the need to act responsibly and safely. We also recognise the duty to maintain public confidence in the administration of justice. However, it is now clear that taking urgent and immediate action to enable the safe release of a substantial number of prisoners is the responsible thing to do, for prisoners who are at risk of serious illness or death both as a result of the virus and the conditions necessitated by it, for staff working on the front line, and for the wider public – in particular the families of both prison staff and prisoners released at the end of their sentence – who will inevitably suffer from concentrations of infections in prisons. The public has understood and accepted extraordinary changes in the normal workings of society because of the government’s strict policy of following the best scientific and medical advice. It is crucial that the same principle should apply to decisions relating to prisons and prisoners.”

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