Free and accessible testing is a cornerstone of the new NHS Test and Trace service, which is working to stop the spread of coronavirus in local communities like ours and to support the lifting of restrictions so people can see more of their friends and family, help businesses get back on their feet and get people back in jobs.
The NHS Test and Trace service have processed more than 19 million coronavirus tests since the pandemic began and contacted and identified nearly 300,000 people as recent close contacts since the service began at the end of May.
I know from talking to people affected that despite this progress, some people here in Swindon experiencing symptoms have had issues in recent weeks in getting a test. I have been in regular contact with the Health Secretary and our local Director of Public Health at Swindon Borough Council about this problem.
It is really good news that the Department for Health & Social Care have opened a Local Test site at the Broadgreen Community Centre, which will hopefully make it easier for local residents to access testing.
This site forms part of a pilot to open new ‘walk through’ local test sites which are easily accessible by foot or on a bike. It also complements the regional drive through testing network across the UK and home testing which can both be booked the government’s online portal.
It is important that we all play our part in the fight against coronavirus and following the rules on social distancing, including the new measures which mean you cannot socialise in groups larger than six, indoors or outdoors, unless everyone is from the same household or support bubble.
Anyone with symptoms of coronavirus – a high temperature, a new, continuous cough, or a loss or change to sense of smell or taste – should book a test immediately at nhs.uk/coronavirus or by calling 119.
It is easy to think there is just one threat facing us right now – a pandemic that risks so many of our lives. But the hard truth is that in corners of our society crimes goes on, and it will continue once this terrible virus has been defeated.
Victims of crime deserve a justice system they can trust. One that has the power to punish properly those who have harmed them and does everything to protect them from falling victim to crime again.
The way we sentence criminals and restrict them once released needs a drastic overhaul – which is why today as Justice Secretary I have published in a White Paper the most radical package of sentencing reforms in almost two decades.
We have already brought in laws making sure the most serious sexual and violent offenders serve more of their sentence in prison. We are now going further by making sentences clearer, more transparent and ensuring punishments properly fit the crime. Child killers will face life behind bars with no chance of release and even more rapists and violent thugs will be made to serve longer in prison.
We will make the justice system smarter and, importantly, one that the public can trust to reduce crime.
Our reforms will create a system that is tough enough to keep the worst offenders behind bars for longer, protecting the public. But also one that provides criminals with a way out if they want it, and a way of getting support for addictions or mental health problems.