Prison law during the coronavirus pandemic

Thu, 26 Mar 2020

Dear Friends and Colleagues

Witnessing the impact of the coronavirus pandemic across the world and in the UK we are, now more than ever, concerned about how prisons will operate, and how the basic rights of those in prison will be preserved. Over the past week we have answered a large quantity of queries, especially about vulnerable, elderly and disabled prisoners. The issues are affecting family members, solicitors, probation and prison staff, and the panels of the parole board. Likewise, we have been asked how some of the everyday processes within the prison estate will likely function and what can be done to preserve necessary safety, with mental and physical well-being the top priority for all concerned.

Some of our specialist colleagues at No5 Chambers have come together to pool their experience and produce this short bulletin, with a view to assisting those who have questions. We cannot hope to cover everything in this document but hope it gives some assistance on some of the major developments.

The government has set up this evolving page of guidance for those visiting prisons, titled “Guidance: Coronavirus (COVID-19) and prisons”, which may be of some help in days to come:

We wish you and your clients the very best during this trying time. If we can help, please do let us know. Our clerks can pass on your enquiries, and can be emailed at:

Yours sincerely,

Philip Rule, Head of Public Law, No5 Barristers' Chambers Chambers

Ian Brownhill, Deputy Head of Public Law, No5 Barristers' Chambers.

Stuart Withers, Barrister

Benjamin Harrison, Barrister

Avril Rushe, Barrister


Please follow the links below to read more on each topic:

Applications for compassionate release

Parole Board process during coronavirus outbreak

Independent Adjudications during coronavirus outbreak

Prisoners’ contact with the outside world

Prisoners' rights to equivalent health and social care

Prisoners with issues in respect of their mental capacity or mental health


From all in the Prison Law Group:

Ramby de Mello

James Dixon

Philip Rule

Mark Bradshaw

Ramya Nagesh

Ian Brownhill

Michael Etienne

Philip Dayle

Stuart Withers

Varsha Jagadesham

Jake Rylatt

Benjamin Harrison

Avril Rushe

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