Open Letter to Family and Friends

July 07, 2021

Open Letter from the Director, Samantha Pariser, to the friends and family members of residents within our care.

Open Letter to Family and Friends

On 5 July 2021, the Prime Minister updated the country on what is being done in England so that restrictions in the community can stop on July 19th.

The Prime Minister also said that the pandemic was not over because we are seeing cases rise in the community. He said that we will see more cases in the community and unfortunately more deaths as things start to open up again. He also said we need to be prepared to reintroduce some measures in the winter.

I wanted to write and tell you what this means for us here at HMP Northumberland. We are starting to see rises in cases across the prison estate in England and Wales each day which is why we must continue to ease our own restrictions carefully and safely. This means we won’t be lifting all our restrictions within the prison on July 19th.

Public Health experts have told us that prisons are more likely to suffer from longer outbreaks of infection because they are closed environments, with everyone living and working closely together. I know this is a message I have shared previously, but I wanted to stress that our decisions are taken based on the advice of health partners.

Keeping your friends and loved ones in our prison safe from this virus has always been, and continues to be, my number one priority and we must not do anything now that could threaten the excellent progress we have made so far.  However, I do want to reassure you that we will be progressing with our regimes, even though we must do it at a slower pace than the community.

I also understand the importance of having physical contact with the person you are visiting during visits. We are looking at ways to progress this further. How we live with COVID in the longer term will be a new experience for all of us. We must continue to protect ourselves and each other by making sure we keep following the public health measures when visiting the prison such as maintaining social distancing and wearing a face covering.

For the prison population vaccinations are key to reducing the need of returning to a more restricted regime in the future and we are making good progress in this area, but there is much more we can do. Across England and Wales 42,500 of prisoners have had their first vaccine dose and approximately 21,000 of prisoners are now fully vaccinated.

At HMP Northumberland over 1,100 residents have received their first vaccination dose, with over 500 having had both. This is an amazing achievement from our healthcare partners, our staff and our residents. I urge you as family members and friends, to encourage those in our care to be vaccinated when called upon, this will help keep them safe and reduce the risk of serious illness to both themselves and to others.

Thank you for your support.

Samantha Pariser,

Director at HMP Northumberland.

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