Keep an eye on the Cell count...the prisoners that is.

It has not been mentioned much yet..but it will.

Secret Intelligence - Politics
SISS  22.03.20
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Although not strictly a National Security risk considered within the realms of MI6 or MI5 jurisdiction at least, with COVID-19, almost everything is a National Security risk.  It is after all a foreign body that is killing British Citizens, so it sort of fits the bill.  A potential problem we have been keeping a watchful eye on is the condition of the prisoners and the prison system in general.  We have only just had our first confirmed case of Coronavirus in a Prison, Strangeways in Manchester, which is remarkable. Not because its in Manchester, but that this has not happened well before now.  Other countries have reacted differently, with some releasing prisoners for fears of ‘cluster amplification’.  A term used by Professor Richard Coker, of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and quoted in a recent Guardian article.  One of only a very few so far.  With fears of public panic already a key priority of the Government and its PR machine, one can’t help feel this one has been kept locked up for good reason. If maintaining calm in already stretched and is not bad enough, the thought of chaos or a risk to the state of order in the UK prison system is something we could all ill afford.  However, it is going to happen and at the moment the policy of isolating any prisoners suspected to have been contaminated seems to be working remarkably well.  Also, it is not so much a question of if, but when the number of cases in UK prisons begins to escalate to its first plateau, how robust are the current contingency plans to efficiently shepherd those testing positively to the right areas of isolation.  Simply locking them up in the cells will not be sufficient or indeed humane.  Equally, simply releasing prisoner’s carte blanche is not viable.  So, it is, as with nearly every intricate capillaceous branch of each new ‘problem event’ in this scenario, a logistical headache of mammoth proportions. 


Reducing the burden on NHS staff is understandably a priority and will remain so, but as time elapses and ‘plateaus one and two’ start to emerge, there will be respite and time to focus on ensuring the stable delivery of other fundamental services such as those carried out by the prison officers, the staff, and not least, the judicial system itself which will inevitably come under the spotlight the longer this event continues.  As we have written several times so far in various articles here, the public really does have very little choice other than to have faith in the Government and the machine it is overseeing to put into place the plans (hopefully) drawn up and dissected in detail in the years building up to this.  Anything else is inconceivable.  For that to happen, the relevant agencies and civil servants, magistrates, judges and the whole host of support staff who oversee the transition of prison mates to different levels will be called into action.  Early releases will have to be considered but only after appropriate testing and will of course be dependent on the type and severity of crime. 


The longer the event continues, the likelihood increases of a directive being issued to modify the sentences being handed out and therefore an inevitable increase in the number of non-custodial sentences.  These risk mitigation procedures should have and will have been planned for but are unlikely to kick start until signs emerge that we are reaching the first plateau.  A time to take stock and regroup.  Until then, as with the prison community we, like them, are in lockdown.

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Wuhan conspiracy theories aside, diplomatic traction is the reward.


A week or two ago we wrote an article "Conspiracies & Ripples" which focused primarily on conspiracy theories and kicked off with the rather obvious statement that a conspiracy theory is simply a theory without the facts i.e. just a theory.  Within that we highlighted that ‘flavour of the month’ theorist’s delight, the origins of the Coronavirus and its links to Wuhan.  This echoed our views published in February which, as many did, ponder the chances of this remote coincidence maybe actually being true.  Since then there have been swathes of articles on the topic citing all sort of sources and from numerous ‘renowned’ scientists.  We have also recently had the opinions offered by those whose opinions really count, that this virus originating from the labs in Wuhan may not actually be so far-fetched after all.

We do tend to agree, or at least we did.  That was then and this is now and in the world of Politics things move quickly and one does have to look at the reality of the situation.  If there is enough fog between you and your destination, then sometimes the route you take can change, leaving you all sorts of options.  If the objective was originally to circumnavigate through uncertain waters to establish who, what, why and when the virus came about – then that is now lost in the fog.  It is arbitrary.  Now we have something that is far more concrete and tangible to use to our advantage – we have uncertainty.  We now have enough debate and conspiracy to render the findings of the scientists open to interpretation.  And that… is a diplomat’s dream come true.   This particular carcass will feed many and although the WHO will go in, on the ground, and no doubt find yet more uncertainty…it really is irrelevant.  You will certainly not find individual government’s chomping at the bit to send their representatives into Wuhan anytime soon, and even if they did, why?  Wuhan is not some sleepy suburb in leafy Northamptonshire… it is in China.  Whatever was there has long gone, if indeed it was ever even there.  So perhaps it would be wise to assume that at least for the next few decades this is a conspiracy that will never find out those salient facts. 

Now, listening to the scientists, there is an overwhelming urge to say, “shush now”.  Step back ladies and gentlemen and look at the bigger picture at play.  Nobody is actually interested whether or not the virus started in Wuhan, intentionally or not.  As long as it is open to debate, it is far more valuable.  The scientists have debated at length and argued, but there is still no unequivocal proof either way that satisfies all parties…and why could that be?  Scientific fact is not open to debate or questioning, that is a given.  However, to say Science is correct, is not true.  That is because Science has Scientists, and Scientists are human beings who in turn are fallible and motivated by many many other factors.  In China for example, one might say that scientific fact is exactly what they want it to be.  Indeed, who is to say it ends in China.


So why is uncertainty such a blessing in this case?  It provides an additional bargaining chip and a weapon in the armoury for all Governments to now use against the Chinese.  Maybe on the other side of the fence their own initial conspiracy theory that a foreign Government (the US) planted the virus in their midst, is being written about in their own press.  Or maybe not. The fact is it is a safe bet to assume that no body will ever know.  There will be no compensations or admissions of guilt in this case sadly…however the capillaceous network that is politics, diplomacy and economic negotiations will be the real beneficiaries.


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