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Coronavirus: More than 250 inmates self-isolating in Scotland’s largest prison

A coronavirus outbreak at Scotland’s largest prison has forced 250 prisoners to self-isolate.

The Scottish Prison Service (SPS) says four members of staff and two prisoners at HMP Barlinnie in Glasgow have tested positive for COVID-19.

Caution about the coronavirus pandemic has meant that all 256 inmates in A Hall are now self-isolating, and visitations have been banned for those on the affected wing until 20 October.

Visits were only allowed again for Scottish prisons from 28 September, and are still subject to a series of restrictions.

A spokesperson for the SPS said the rest of Barlinnie prison was not affected by the outbreak, and confirmed that contact tracing was being carried out for staff members.

HMP Barlinnie was opened in 1882 and is set to be replaced in the future by a “superjail” on a 54-acre site in the northeast of the city.

The pandemic has infected prisoners and probation service users at more than 80 facilities across the country, with almost all of them being impacted in one way or another.

Prisoners were forced to use buckets as toilets and spent five months almost totally confined to their cells at HMP Erlestoke in Wiltshire, according to the chief inspector of prisons.

A 58-year-old woman at HMP Downview in Surrey has called on the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to step in over claims the UK government’s coronavirus measures are putting women behind bars at risk.

According to the most recent statistics published by the Ministry of Justice, covering data up to 7 August, there were 44 deaths among prisoners and probation service users between the start of the pandemic and the end of May.

No additional deaths were recorded between June and 7 August.

According to the MoJ data, roughly 530 prisoners and 10 children in youth custody have tested positive for COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic.

There were approximately 79,600 people in prisons across the UK as of 7 August.

The MoJ report stated that 275 low-risk offenders and other vulnerable prisoners near to the end of their custodial sentences have been given early release on compassionate grounds to deal with the issue of prison capacity.

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