Prison officials fear easing restrictions could lead to second wave of Covid-19

There are warnings not to ease restrictions too quickly for fear of a second wave of Covid-19 in prisons.

In March, Prisons in England and Wales were put on "immediate lockdown" with all visits cancelled.

All jury trials were also put on hold as part of ongoing efforts to halt the spread of Covid-19 - though have since resumed.

Modelling data conducted by HMPPS and PHE suggested in a worst case scenario, dependent on reductions in prisoner population, there could be over 2,000 deaths.

The latest data in England and Wales shows 23 prisoners and 10 prison officers have died, with restrictions on the prison estate averting a large-scale tragedy behind bars.

But though these figures are far fewer than originally predicted, Mark Fairhurst, a prison officer at HMP Liverpool has told ITV News they can't afford to be complacent.

Last month, inspectors paid a visit to three prisons across the country to see how they were dealing with the pandemic.

The report, by Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Prisons, Peter Clarke, praised prison officials and prisoners for adapting to challenges presented by Covid-19.

At HMP Altcourse, a privately run prison, the report stated checks were carried out on newly-arrived prisoners every 30 minutes and were "actively managing outbreaks with reducing numbers."

But not all prisons in the report responded well. Elsewhere, inspectors found disparities in social distancing and self harm increasing in some jails.

Concerns were also raised about conditions in cells and the level of precautions being taken.

The partner of one man in jail in Manchester, who wished to remain anonymous, spoke to ITV News about their fears.

Staff have also been affected, HMP Manchester confirmed one of their colleagues had died due to Covid-19. In a social media post, Kate Kelly, who worked at the gatelodge was described as a "brave and inspiring person who proudly served and protected the public."

As visitation remains suspended, the Prison Advice and Care Trust (PACT), who support prisoners and their families raised concerns over prisoners mental health, as calls to their support line increased during lockdown.

The Prison Reform Trust said the government's response to the threat of the pandemic in prisons is a "failure of national planning."

A Prison Service spokesperson, said:

Prisoners' families helpline: