The HM Prison and Probation Service has released official statistics covering monthly data of Covid-19 in prisons in England and Wales between March 2020 and February 2021. The statistics addressed confirmed cases of the virus in prisons and Youth Custody sites, deaths across HMPPS service users, and mitigating action being taken to limit the spread of the virus and save lives.

The key findings of the official statistics are:

  • 161 prisoners, children in custody, and probation service users have died having tested positive within 28 days of death or where it was confirmed post mortem. Of whom, 118 were prisoners.

  • Of the 161 deaths, 134 were suspected or confirmed to be caused by Covid-19, 93 of whom were prisoners.

  • Deaths have occurred in 54 prisons where the service user died following a positive test within 28 days. In 47 prisons, there were deaths suspected or confirmed to be caused by COVID-19.

  • 14,480 prisoners or children have tested positive for Covid-19 since the start of the pandemic, across 127 establishments.

  • In February 2021, 104 establishments had prisoners or children testing positive.

  • All prisons have had at least one prisoner testing positive for Covid-19. 45 prisons have had 100 or more prisoners testing positive.

Public health experts have called for prisoners to be made a vaccine priority after UCL researchers found Covid deaths in prisons are three times higher than outside. The study says that prisons are high-risk environments for infectious disease outbreaks due to overcrowding and inconsistent access to washing facilities.

Between March 2020 and February 2021, 118 deaths related to Covid-19 were recorded among people in prisons, which represents a risk of dying more than three times higher than that of people of the same age and sex outside secure environments, the research team at University College London found.

The Ministry of Justice challenged the authors’ work, arguing that it failed to adjust for worse health among the prison population than the community and movements of prisoners in and out of prison.

Here at Farleys our specialist inquest team have represented clients in a number of inquests following a death in prison and have detailed knowledge of the procedure following a death in custody. For information about obtaining representation at inquests, please contact the team on 0845 287 0939 or complete our online contact form.