Lancashire jail could house field hospital for coronavirus prisoners

Prisoners who develop coronavirus in British jails could be treated in a field hospital in the grounds of Wymott Prison near Leyland.

By Brian Ellis
Saturday, 4th April 2020, 8:45 am
Updated Saturday, 4th April 2020, 8:48 am
Wymott Prison near Leyland
Wymott Prison near Leyland

That is said to be one of the ideas being looked at by the prison service as cases behind bars continue to rise.

More than 80 inmates have already tested positive for Covid-19 in jails across England and Wales, with three deaths. A further 1,200 are reported to be in isolation after showing symptoms.

Now the service is said to be looking at contingency measures should the virus take a tighter grip on the prison population.

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Wymott Prison

An official of the Prison Officers Association has told the BBC that Wymott, with its sprawling grounds, could be one of the sites considered if a temporary tented hospital is needed.

"We are aware of these ideas, but there is nothing concrete at the moment," said Mark Fairhurst.

"Wymott has a lot of spare ground within its walls and Wymott hosts a lot of the elderly (prison) population. So it may be an appropriate site should we need to utlise it."

Haverigg Prison in Cumbria is also reported to be one of the sites being considered, with spare billets (the jail used to be an RAF training camp) being used to isolate prisoners from the most vulnerable groups.

Prison reformers have also suggested early release for some low risk offenders to help ease the strain on the service and prevent jails becoming breeding grounds for the virus.

Tensions are said to be increasing within prisons where inmates are having to live under tighter restrictions. It is claimed there have been a number of incidents at Wymott where prisoners have smashed up their cells in frustration.

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Justice told the Post: "We have robust and flexible plans in place keep prisoners, staff and the wider public safe, based on the latest advice from Public Health England.”