Bishop of Rochester asks Government about Covid-19 cases in prisons

On 30th June the Rt Revd James Langstaff, Bishop of Rochester, received a written answer to a question from Lord Keen of Elie on Covid-19 in prisons.

The Lord Bishop of Rochester: HL5099 To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many (1) prisoners, and (2) staff, were (a) suspected of having, (b) confirmed as having, (3) hospitalised as a result of, and (4) died from, COVID-19 in prisons in England, broken down by region.

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Bishop of Rochester asks Government about Covid-19 in prisons

On 16th June the Rt Revd James Langstaff, Bishop of Rochester received written answers to three questions on coronavirus in prisons.

The Lord Bishop of Rochester: HL5101 To ask Her Majesty’s Government to what extent each prison in England and Wales has implemented (1) the compartmentalisation strategy, (2) protective isolation units and shielding units, and (3) reverse cohorting units.

Lord Keen of Elie: We continue to implement our compartmentalisation strategy: isolating the symptomatic, quarantining new arrivals and shielding the vulnerable. This strategy has shown early signs of success in reducing transmission in the prison estate.

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Bishop of Gloucester asks Government about cell sharing, shielding and deaths from Covid-19 in prisons

On 16th June the Rt Revd Rachel Treweek, Bishop of Gloucester, received  written answers to three questions on Covid-19 in prisons.

The Lord Bishop of Gloucester: HL4969 To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many prisoners (1) meet the criteria for being considered clinically extremely vulnerable to COVID-19, and (2) are currently following shielding guidelines, broken down by prison. Continue reading “Bishop of Gloucester asks Government about cell sharing, shielding and deaths from Covid-19 in prisons”

Bishop of Rochester asks Government about role of smaller charitable organisations providing probation services

On 15th June a Government statement on probation services was repeated in the House of Lords. Rt Revd James Langstaff, Bishop of Rochester, asked a follow up question.

The Lord Bishop of Rochester: My Lords, I am grateful for the opportunity to participate in this discussion. Like others, whatever nuances of language there are, I welcome what I see as a general change of direction.

Predictably, my question focuses on the charitable sector, which others have mentioned, not least the faith-based sector. One of the privileges and joys of my time as bishop to Her Majesty’s prisons has been to see the work of faith-based and community-based organisations all over the country, not least in work through the gate and in seeking to rehabilitate and resettle people into local communities.

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Bishop of Rochester asks Government about Covid-19 infections in prisons

On 9th June the Rt Revd James Langstaff, Bishop of Rochester received a written answer to a question from Lord Keen of Elie on the number of prisoners who have had coronavirus and what proportion have been tested.

The Lord Bishop of Rochester: HL5097 To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many prisoners (1) have displayed, or (2) are currently displaying, symptoms of COVID-19; and of those, (a) how many, and (b) what proportion, have been tested.

Lord Keen of Elie: As of Friday, 29 May our management information shows that there were 162 prisoners currently showing symptoms of Covid-19. Of those, 85 (52%) had been tested. Our records show that a further 3450 prisoners had previously displayed symptoms of Covid-19 where cases are now closed. Of those, 1447 (or 42%) had been tested.

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Bishop of Gloucester asks about testing for Covid-19 in prisons

On 14th May 2020 Baroness Humphreys asked the Government “what steps they are taking to alleviate overcrowding in prisons in England and Wales, particularly in HMP Swansea.” The Bishop of Gloucester, Rt Revd Rachel Treweek, asked a follow-up question:

The Lord Bishop of Gloucester: My Lords, the World Health Organization has been clear that testing will be a key part of tackling coronavirus. We just heard some of those stats, but could the Government please give us the number of prisoners who have been tested to date, and give an assurance that testing will always be in place before moving people between prisons? Continue reading “Bishop of Gloucester asks about testing for Covid-19 in prisons”

Bishop of Gloucester raises impact on female offenders and children of coronavirus in prisons

On 23rd April 2020 the House of Lords held a debate in its virtual proceedings, on a question from Lord German, “to ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the impact of the COVID-19 epidemic on the prison population and offender rehabilitation programmes.” The Bishop of Gloucester, Rt Revd Rachel Treweek, took part in the debate:

The Lord Bishop of Gloucester: My Lords, I echo what has been said already. I draw attention to my interests in the register, particularly the fact that I am president of the Nelson Trust. I will make just a few points.

The Secretary of State has argued that the public would not accept the early release of certain categories of prisoners. The Government need to be clearer with the public about the risks in a pandemic to prisoners, key workers and their families. The potential risk of low-level, non-violent offenders being released on licence is far outweighed by the risk of inaction and delay. Will the Government commit to put into the public domain as soon as possible substantial and transparent information about how the release programme is working and publish daily statistics about coronavirus in prison, including the impact on staff and those in custody?

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Coronavirus Bill: Bishop of Rochester responds on church closures and care for vulnerable

On 24th March 2020 the House of Lords debated the emergency legislation from the Government to deal with the Coronavirus pandemic. The Bishop of Rochester, Rt Revd James Langstaff, spoke in the debate, highlighting issues to do with church closures, funerals, and care of the vulnerable, including the homeless, and those in prison or immigration detention:

 

“How can we sing the Lord’s song in a strange land?”

In many ways we are entering into a strange land, and indeed in some ways a land of exile: a land in which we are exiled from many of our normal patterns of living, in which people of faith are not able to attend their places of worship and in which many people find themselves having to live life in entirely new ways.

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Bishop of Gloucester asks Government what is being done to support diversion and alternatives to custody for women

On 27th February 2020 the House of Lords debated a motion from Lord Bates, “to ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the findings of the Checkpoint programme, run by Durham Constabulary, to reduce reoffending rates and custodial sentences.” The Bishop of Gloucester, Rt Revd Rachel Treweek, spoke in the debate:

The Lord Bishop of Gloucester: My Lords, I too would like to thank the noble Lord, Lord Bates, not least for his important mention of mercy, which is so important to me in my Christian faith. I too would like to commend the work of the Checkpoint programme, especially on behalf of my right reverend friend the Bishop of Durham, who also wanted to pay tribute to Ron Hogg—so it is good to have heard that. Continue reading “Bishop of Gloucester asks Government what is being done to support diversion and alternatives to custody for women”

Bishop of Gloucester responds to Government plans to end early release for terrorist offenders

On 24th February 2020 the House of Lords considered the Government’s Terrorist Offenders (Restriction of Early Release) Bill at its Second Reading (and remaining stages). The Bishop of Gloucester, Rt Revd Rachel Treweek, spoke in the debate:

The Lord Bishop of Gloucester: My Lords, I am grateful to those contributing to this subject today who have far greater knowledge than I do, and I will aim to keep my comments brief.

Certainly, if a society that relies on government to deliver justice has lost confidence in the current system, it is right that we try to address those fears, and we must look at the bigger picture. I share concerns already expressed about the manner in which this legislation has been brought before the House, and particularly the very short time that we have to consider it.

If the justice system is to serve the common good and the flourishing of people and place, there needs to be an emphasis on a radical mutual responsibility, in which we are all truly responsible for one another. Offenders must be expected to take responsibility for their actions. This should be about not only taking the consequences and punishments imposed by a criminal justice system but having the opportunity to take responsibility for past actions, and the possibility of taking responsibility to restore their relationship with society.

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