Coronavirus: ‘19 cases of Covid-19 in Pentonville’

Pentonville Prison in Caledonian Road. Picture: Charlotte Ball/PA Archive

Pentonville Prison in Caledonian Road. Picture: Charlotte Ball/PA Archive - Credit: PA Archive/PA Images

Nineteen inmates have tested positive for coronavirus at Pentonville prison, the Gazette understands.

It comes after Islington South and Finsbury MP Emily Thornberry warned “terrible overcrowding and woefully poor hygiene standards” at the Caledonian Road jails means an outbreak would be “an absolute disaster”.

The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) will not confirm how many people have tested positive for Covid-19 in any specific prison, but a spokesperson said: “We have robust and flexible plans in place to protect the lives of our staff, prisoners and visitors, based on the latest advice from Public Health England and the Department of Health and Social Care.”

As of Thursday last week, the MoJ confirmed 27 prisoners have tested positive for coronavirus in 14 UK jails. Two inmates have died after catching the virus but neither were at Pentonville.

Justice secretary Robert Buckland last week said the government was considering releasing some inmates early from prisons in England and Wales to help “alleviate” pressures caused by the pandemic.

But an MoJ spokesperson said on Tuesday that no decision has yet been made on whether any prisoner should be temporarily released from Pentonville.

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Speaking earlier this week, Ms Thornberry told the Gazette: “For those of us who have been campaigning over the last ten years and warning about the consequences of keeping Pentonville open, this is the day we have been dreading, when a prison that cannot now cope at the best of times suddenly has to face the worst of times.

“Because let’s make no mistake: given the terrible overcrowding and the woefully poor hygiene standards that already exist at Pentonville, an outbreak of Covid-19 would be an absolute disaster.”

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