By prioritising pregnant women and mothers with babies in prison for early release back in March, the government sent a clear signal about their vulnerability, and the need to protect their safety and wellbeing during the Covid-19 pandemic. Yet two months on, only 22 pregnant women and mothers with babies have been released under this scheme.
Many more remain inside prison walls, locked in their cells for more than 23 hours a day with no visits from family, friends or many of their usual support services. Pregnant women and new mothers continue to arrive in our prisons to serve custodial sentences. All these women and babies are currently likely to be at increased risk from a system that struggles to protect their safety and wellbeing even during normal times.