Two employees at the same prison die after suffering from coronavirus symptoms sparking fears of further jail outbreaks
- Bovil Peter and Patrick Beckford died after suffering coronavirus symptoms
- It is not known if either man working at the Category C jail had health issues
- Three prisoners died with coronavirus as Ministry of Justice faces increasing calls to take action to reduce crowding in ‘pressure-cooker’ jails
Two staff members at north London’s Pentonville Prison have died after suffering Covid-19 symptoms, the Prison Officers’ Association said.
Bovil Peter and Patrick Beckford were both support staff workers at the Category C jail, and were believed to be aged in their 60s.
POA national chairman Mark Fairhurst described Mr Peter as ‘an experienced member of staff’ who was working at operational support grade at the prison, and ‘he died earlier this week due to Covid-19 symptoms.
He said: ‘My thoughts and prayers are with everybody involved with these tragic deaths – two at the same prison is very concerning.’
It is not known if either of the men had any underlying health conditions.
Mr Fairhurst added: ‘We are on the front line doing a commendable job on behalf of society and he will be sadly missed by all his colleagues.
‘We wish the best for his family and friends.’
A staff member at north London’s Pentonville Prison (pictured) has died after suffering coronavirus symptoms, the Prison Officers’ Association said
Today 708 people who tested positive for the coronavirus have died in biggest 24-hour toll yet
It comes after three prisoners died with coronavirus, as calls grow to take urgent action to reduce crowding in ‘pressure-cooker’ UK jails.
Today 708 people who tested positive for Covid-19 died today, bringing the UK’s total death toll to 4,313, while the number of infections rose by 3,735.
A 77-year-old man with underlying health conditions became the third prisoner to die yesterday at HMP Littlehey, a category C prison for sex offenders – where the virus also killed 84-year-old paedophile Edwin Hillier nearly two weeks ago.
The Ministry of Justice is facing demands to release inmates on remand and short-term sentences to clear space in jails, where the prison officers’ union says crowding makes social distancing rules ‘almost impossible’ to enforce.
The deaths of three prisoners will increase pressure on officials to act. An inmate at HMP Manchester died in hospital on March 26 after testing positive for coronavirus.
He was already terminally ill and receiving end-of-life care.
Nearly 70 pregnant women and mothers with babies are already being released early to protect them from the virus, but today former chief inspector of prisons Lord Ramsbotham called on authorities to go further.
Former chief inspector of prisons Lord Ramsbotham (left) has called for some prisoners to be released (right, HMP Littlehey, which has seen two prisoners die)
Edwin Hillier, 84, from Hertfordshire, was one of the country’s oldest inmates at HMP Littlehey
Lord Ramsbotham said he was ‘very worried’ about the effect of the crisis on the country’s jails, saying prison staff would not be able to handle the crisis.
‘The remand prisoners in particular should be let out,’ Lord Ramsbotham wrote in a letter to The Daily Telegraph co-signed by 50 fellow members of the House of Lords as well as police and crime commissioners, leading academics and charities.
‘They should also examine indeterminate sentence prisoners.’
Around 3,500 prison staff – representing about a tenth of the workforce – are in self-isolation due to suspected Covid-19. Some 14 employees have tested positive for the virus in eight prisons, as well as four prison escort and custody services staff.
Concerns about staffing levels growing dangerously low have led to Prison Officers’ Union chief Dave Cook for the military to be drafted in as back up.
As of Monday, 65 inmates had tested positive for coronavirus in 23 prisons.
The first inmate to die, Edwin Hillier, was jailed for sex attacks on young girls in the 1970s. He was rushed to hospital with suspected sepsis on March 20 but post-mortem results showed he had also contracted coronavirus.
Visits to all jails have now been banned by the Ministry of Justice.
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