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Could some Suffolk prisoners be released to ease pressure on jails during coronavirus?

Should 'low-risk' prisoners be released to aid the coronavirus battle?  Picture: KEIRON TOVELL

Should 'low-risk' prisoners be released to aid the coronavirus battle? Picture: KEIRON TOVELL

Some prisoners could be released from jails in Suffolk as the government looks to ease pressure caused by the coronavirus crisis.

Justice Secretary Robert Buckland told a committee of MPs that releasing some inmates could “alleviate” pressures on the prison system during the pandemic.

Around 3,500 prison staff were off work on Tuesday because they were ill or self-isolating, the Commons justice committee heard.

Mr Buckland said prisoners could be released on temporary licence after a risk assessment, but he added that he was aware it would present problems for the Probation Service who monitor offenders.

Some of the 9,000 prisoners who are on remand awaiting trial could also be transferred to bail hostels.

MORE: Should prisoners be released to aid coronavirus battle?

A spokeswoman for the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) said the decision is still under consideration and therefore no further information about which prisons might see inmates released was available.

There are three prisons in Suffolk: HMP Highpoint (North and South) in Stradishall, near Newmarket, HMP Hollesley Bay, and HMP Warren Hill, both near Woodbridge.

Last week, the government was urged to act to aid the battle in the short-term against the coronavirus.

Think tank Reform said emergency legislation should be used to release eligible prisoners serving a sentence of six months or less back into the community with an electronic tag.

Reform said that by releasing low-risk inmates, the strain will be eased on the prison population and staff during the crisis without compromising public safety.

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