UK to release ‘up to 4,000’ prisoners to avoid extra pressure on healthcare systems

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The UK is set to temporarily release thousands of prisoners across the country in a bid to halt the spread of coronavirus.

Inmates will need to undergo risk assessments and be within two months of their official release dates to meet the requirements for the action, which will begin as early as next week.

No high-risk offenders – such as those convicted for violent and sexual crimes, will be considered, nor will those jailed for coronavirus-related crimes, which includes coughing or spitting at emergency personnel.

A Ministry of Justice spokesperson said that, up to 4,000 prisoners could be eligible for release under the new measures, a further statement confirmed that this would be “phased over time”.

As of Saturday, 88 inmates and 15 prison staff in the UK have tested positive for COVID-19.

They added that inmates were now being moved, as far as possible, into cells alone, in order to put in place advised social distancing measures.