WE’VE all been asked by the Government to take steps to reduce the spread of Covid-19 by staying at home, protecting the NHS and saving lives.

The wide reaching impact of coronavirus is being felt across the whole country and we must all play our part in supporting and adhering to these measures.

The Criminal Justice System is no exception to this.

Like so many other aspects of our law and order system, it is one which has people at the heart of it – those working in it and those who pass through it. It is crucial, therefore, their wellbeing and welfare is safeguarded.

Earlier this week the Government confirmed the early release of certain prisoners to help reduce the impact on NHS services to prisons and to protect prison service staff.

Prisoners and prison staff, by the nature of their close proximity to each other, are at a higher risk of contracting and spreading the virus, which could overwhelm local NHS services.

Stringent criteria will ensure that only low risk offenders, within weeks of their release will be considered, and those that are released will be monitored closely. No violent or sexual offenders, or those that may cause a security concern, will be considered.

The police and other agencies will be made aware of those considered for release back to Swindon and Wiltshire. I can assure you that the Prison Service, Police and Probation Services locally are all working together to ensure that the risk to the public is minimised. I will be also working with local partners to ensure that those leaving prison are supported in the right way, and in particular the Probation Service to ensure housing support is in place.

The impact of COVID-19 has also been felt throughout the court process as the Criminal Justice System takes steps to embed social distancing requirements and reduce the spread of the virus.

To this end, revised court processes have been put in place which have meant that many court cases have been put on hold and those which are continuing are using video link systems.

This is a difficult time for many who are part of this sector and those victim who have looked forward to the outcome of a case as a point of closure or opportunity to move on.

I have been assured that victims and witnesses are being kept informed during this time and would like to reassure them that these cases will go to court when safe to do so.

The victim and witness service here at Wiltshire Police, Horizon, continues to be available to support during this elongated period.

With such impact on our Criminal Justice Service and pressures on our emergency services, I have been appalled to hear of emergency service workers, including police officers, being coughed or spat at when they are simply doing their job.

No one, regardless of the industry they work in, should be subject to an attack like this.

As PCC, I will continue to seek reassurances that any changes to our Criminal Justice System are not impacting on public safety during this exceptional period.