This report summarises responses to a survey asking prisoners about their experiences of Covid restrictions during 2020. It was carried out as part of the Scotland in Lockdown study and draws on 86 responses from men and women in prisons across Scotland. The survey explored four main issues: sources of Covid information; following guidance to prevent infection; following guidance to protect mental and physical health; changes to prison life due to Covid. High numbers of respondents reported severe negative effects of lockdown restrictions in prison, including severe declines in mental health including suicide attempts. Extended cell lockups of 23 or more hours per day and loss and reduced quality of family contact were commonly mentioned factors in relation to mental health decline. People also reported relying on family and friends, rather than prisons sources, for information about Covid-19. It was difficult for most to follow key guidance on infection prevention and wellbeing, unsurprising in a prison environment where distancing and mobility are limited. Factors that supported wellbeing are discussed.


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Armstrong, S., Barkas, B., Casey, R., Cornish, N., Gormley, C., McNeill, F. & Schinkel, M. 2022, Prisoner experiences of Covid-19 Restrictions in Scotland during 2020, Scotland in Lockdown. Available at: http://eprints.gla.ac.uk/277563/

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Last updated: 29 August 2022
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