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This Is What It’s Like To Be A Prison Guard During The Coronavirus Pandemic

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10.05.2020

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It’s the end of a shift at a Lancashire jail and a prison guard is entering his house through the utility door, stripping off his clothes because of the deadly risk of coronavirus.

The guard has been working inside a prison where inmates and officers have tested positive for Covid-19. Someone at the jail has even died and the officer does not want to take unnecessary risks with the safety of his family.

The dangers of doing his job are currently so high that he has not seen his children since the pandemic began because of the risks of infection.

“When we’re at work, staff just get on with it,” he said. “We stand there – we chat to each other. It’s kind of like we’re all in the same household because we’re doing the shifts together. It’s kind of fine when you’re in work.

“But it’s coming home. I come in, take everything off and it’s straight into the washing machine on a 60 degree wash and then straight up for a shower before I even go near my wife or my dog or anything like that.

“It’d be good if we had the facilities at work to have a quick shower and get changed before we came home, but there just aren’t those facilities unfortunately.”

The prison service, like the NHS and the care sector, has seen its workforce continue to risk contact with Covid-19 daily in order to keep the sector running.

Staff are still getting cross-deployed to different wings, so potentially not containing the virus that way

It is essential work as defined by the government, but the risks are real.

So far, official figures as of May 6 show 447 prison staff across 66 jails have tested positive for Covid-19, as well as another 15 prisoner escort and custody service staff.

The figures are higher than the 390 prisoners who have tested positive at 74 jails nationwide, despite the relatively small size of the prison workforce compared with the inmate population.

At least five prison guards or civilian workers are known to have died during the pandemic, although there are no official government figures on these deaths.

The prison officer said he believes coronavirus is spreading rapidly within jails, although the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) says this is not the case.

Agreeing to talk to HuffPost UK on condition of anonymity, he claimed:

  • Guards at his jail do not wear protective equipment such as masks and goggles as standard but only if a prisoner is showing symptoms of coronavirus.
  • Prison officers are working across different wings of the jail, potentially increasing the risk of spreading the virus.
  • Inmates at the jail who have Covid-19 are being held in isolation lockdown for 24 hours a day, with no showers or telephone calls.

He says he has also been made aware that a temporary morgue........

© HuffPost


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