Overcrowded UK prisons are ‘feeding crime’ – study
Ministry of Justice (MoJ) data, analyzed by the Howard League for Penal Reform, reveals prison officers are forced to double up inmates, and place two of them in one-man cells.
Doubling up is most common in Wandsworth prison, where nearly 1,100 men on average are forced to share 6ft-by-10ft (183 x 305cm) cells designed for one inmate.
Prisoners receive minimal ventilation in their cells and unscreened toilets at the feet of their bunk beds.
Figures show 19,000 inmates are doubled up. Some 800 others are trebled up, meaning three prisoners are forced to share a two-man cell.
The most crowded prison in UK is Leeds in Northern England, which was built to hold 669 prisoners. Inspectors discovered it held 1,218 inmates at the end of January.
— Radio Aire News (@radioairenews) March 2, 2015
Prisons such as Wandsworth, Exeter, Preston, Durham, Doncaster and Swansea also face serious overcrowding issues.
Official inspections have revealed prisoners spend up to 23 hours a day in such conditions.
Last week we said there were 82 suicides in prison in 2014 and we were accused of "misrepresenting". Today @MoJGovUK confirm there were 84.
— The Howard League (@TheHowardLeague) January 29, 2015
Overcrowding has led to a rise in violence, suicides and self-harm incidents, as well as “feeding crime,” the report claims.
The growing prison population and the coalition government’s austerity cuts, including prison closures and redundancies, are to blame for the overcrowding, it adds.
While the prison population grew from 75,374 to 78,935 between January 2013 and January 2015, 10 detention centers were shut down and others were converted into immigration centers.
Government must get a grip on a prison system in crisis that is feeding the crime problem and creating more victims. pic.twitter.com/N6JCDDQzSK
— The Howard League (@TheHowardLeague) March 2, 2015
Frances Crook, chief executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform, urged the government to take action.
“The government must get a grip on a prison system in crisis,” he said.
The crisis is “feeding the crime problem and creating more victims,” he added.
“Caging men in squalor with nothing to do all day is never going to help them become law-abiding citizens on release.
“Far too many people are being sent into already overcrowded jails and the need to stem the flow is now urgent.”
Bad Government: 'Huge overcrowding' in Cardiff and Swansea prisons. These are often very vulnerable people that need help not neglect.
— Byron Calloway (@ByronCalloway1) March 2, 2015
The figures have sparked a debate on Twitter about what can be done to reduce the spiraling UK prison population.
— Paul Brooks (@lennonlounge) March 2, 2015
One Twitter user blamed mounting incarceration rates on the rise of criminal immigrants in the UK. “I think if a person is not from this country they should be deported and not locked up.”
— Dominick Bryant (@BryantDjbryant) March 2, 2015
Another said, “This has been going on since 2006 so still no change[sic],” adding the Conservative Party is to blame for the rise.
Prisons Minister Andrew Selous said, “We always have enough space within our prisons to accommodate all offenders, and will never be in a position where we can’t imprison those sentenced by the courts.”
Despite the damning figures, Selous insisted overcrowding “is at its lowest levels since 2007/08.”