10 June 2020

On 27 March, INQUEST and Women in Prison brought together a coalition of charities, grassroots organisations and individuals to call on the government to immediately reduce the number of people in prison, young offender institutions, secure training centres and immigration detention settings to save lives during the coronavirus pandemic.


On 14 April, over 220 people joined a Twitter Storm – asking the government to take urgent action and #Release2SaveLives, which reached over 117k people on the platform.

The government responded to our letter, maintaining that their actions and measures are having an impact in limiting deaths and transmission of the virus. 


However, the urgent need for releases remains. As of 29 May, only 128 prisoners have been released under the End of Custody Temporary Release Scheme and compassionate release in light of COVID-19.

Recent reports have shed light on the harsh realities of life in prison under lockdown where it has become normal to spend 23 hours a day locked behind a door.

Self-harm in women’s prisons has increased from already unacceptably high levels. Since lockdown began, 75 people in prison have died, of which 17 were self-inflicted deaths.

As such INQUEST and Women in Prison have written again to the government. Our letter can be read below.

Reply from INQUEST and Women in Prison

We thank you for your support - close to 600 organisations, grassroots networks and activist groups, academics, lawyers and other professionals and individuals back this important call to #Release2SaveLives. A full list is available online here.

Thank you,

INQUEST and Women in Prison

CREDIT: The banner illustration is credit of Michael Collins, as part of the These Walls Must Fall Campaign. See: detention.org.uk