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A prison watch dog report says prisons in England and Wales hold double its inmate capacity

Date: (28 August 2012)    |    

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A Prison Reform Trust report has revealed that some English and Welsh jails held double the number of people as many they should.
There were nearly 7,300 more inmates than they were designed for in the prisons of England and Wales, according to figures released on Tuesday by the Prison Reform Trust.
Despite slowing down of the prison population in recent times, some jails had twice as many inmates as they were supposed to, the analysis of official statistics found.
The trust argues that fewer short spells behind bars and community-based penalties were more effective at cutting crime.
It claims that last month 77 of the 131 prisons in England and Wales held more inmates than the Prison Service's certified normal accommodation (CNA) level. A normal level means capacity for each jail that under the given population gives good, decent standard of accommodation that the service aspires to provide all prisoners.
According to the trust Kennet prison in Liverpool was the most overcrowded. Designed for 175 men, it now holds 337. In second place was Shrewsbury (built to house 170 men, holding 326) and third Swansea (built for 240, holding 436).
A spokesman for the trust said for people in prison themselves, overcrowding has a real impact.
The figure for 2010/11 had shown that nearly a quarter of people in prison were being held in overcrowded accommodation, some had two in a cell designed for one occupant or three in a cell designed for two.
Private prisons have had a higher percentage of their prisoners in overcrowded accommodation than public-sector prisons every year for the 13 years to 2010/11.
Juliet Lyon the trust director said that creating new infrastructure was not the solution for overcrowding but it could be reduced by curbing inflation in sentencing, calling a halt to unnecessary use of custodial remand, dealing with addictions and investing in effective community penalties.
Overcrowding makes it much harder for staff to work intensively with offenders on resettlement.
This month Lyon lambasted the policy of remanding accused in custody, saying that remand prisoners were often held in worse conditions and received less help and support than those who were serving time for convicted crime.
She said the overused tactic saw nearly 55,000 people last year, 11,500 of whom were later acquitted, while many received a community penalty when their cases were finally heard in court.