Policy paper

Covid-19: Prison releases

Certain risk-assessed offenders may be temporarily released from prison, as part of the national plan to protect the NHS and save lives.



The Ministry of Justice and Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service are implementing measures to limit the spread and impact of Covid-19 in the prison estate, protect the health of staff and prisoners, maintain safety and order, and minimise the impact of the pandemic on the NHS.

Creating headroom in prisons by a combination of new buildings and some temporary releases is one part of this package of measures, because it will allow more space to shield and isolate vulnerable prisoners and new entrants to custody.

The End of Custody Temporary Release scheme (ECTR) is being introduced to enable risk-assessed prisoners, who are within two months of their release date, to be temporarily released from custody, as part of the national approach to managing public services during this challenging period.

Separately from the ECTR process, some prisoners may meet the criteria for potential compassionate temporary release, for example because they are pregnant or extremely medically vulnerable to Covid-19. These prisoners may be considered for Release on Temporary Licence based on a case-by-case assessment of whether it would be safe to do so. Where they are ineligible or unsuitable for release, our wider package of measures, including ECTR, will help shield them in custody.

Published 24 April 2020