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Community and POA issue joint statement on COVID-19

13th March 2020

The general secretaries of the two largest justice, custodial & immigration sector trade unions, the POA and Community, have issued a joint statement on the COVID-19 coronavirus.

POA General Secretary Steve Gillan and Community General Secretary Roy Rickhuss said:

“Our members are on the frontline of public service in both the public and private sectors. We recognise that the spread of coronavirus presents a new and even unprecedented challenge to the operations of prisons and the criminal justice and immigration systems. We are in close contact at the highest level, where we are respectively recognised, with the Prison Service and senior management within justice, custodial and immigration services contractors.

“We understand that this situation requires everyone involved in the sector to work together constructively and we are giving that commitment on behalf of our unions. This is clearly a developing situation and we will continue to evaluate matters in the interests of our members, while recognising the vitally important role they undertake delivering public services.”

POA and Community joint statement on Coronavirus

Yesterday the Minister of State at the Ministry of Justice, Lucy Frazer, released a statement on prisons preparedness saying:

“The safety and wellbeing of staff, prisoners and visitors is paramount and at the heart of our approach.

“Prisons have existing, well-developed policies and procedures in place to manage outbreaks of infectious diseases. This means prisons are well prepared to take immediate action whenever cases or suspected cases are identified, including isolating individuals where necessary.

“Basic hygiene is a key part of tackling the virus and good practice is being promoted on posters throughout the estate. Handwashing facilities are available to all prisoners – not just in cells but other shared areas such as education blocks and kitchens. Staff and visitors also have access to handwashing facilities and we have worked closely with suppliers to ensure adequate supply of soap and cleaning materials.”