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Criminal Justice System: Covid-19

Volume 680: debated on Tuesday 22 September 2020

What assessment he has made of the effect of the covid-19 outbreak on service users and victims in the criminal justice system. (906341)

The Government are determined that victims should receive the help and support they need to cope and recover during the pandemic. In addition to existing funding, the Government have provided £76 million to support victims of modern slavery, domestic abuse and sexual violence, as well as vulnerable children and young people. We have set up the victims and witnesses silver command, which consists of the Victims’ Commissioner, the Domestic Abuse Commissioner and others, to identify needs fast and deliver support to the frontline.

Even before the pandemic, young people often endured terrible conditions on the prison estate, and things have grown much worse since the pandemic began. Many young people have found themselves locked up in their cells for 22 hours a day and face-to-face learning has ended. Education and training play an essential role in reducing reoffending and improving the wellbeing of prisoners. Will the Ministry of Justice consider introducing virtual rehabilitation and education classes while prisoners remain under tight restrictions due to covid?

I was expecting a question about victims, but the hon. Gentleman rightly raises an important issue about prisons. The answer to the point he raises is: yes, we are doing it.