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News Archives: Index

October 7, 2010: Probation Set For Industrial Action

October 5, 2010: Turning Prisoners Into Taxpayers

October 4, 2010: Murder Changes Now In Force

September 20, 2010: Probation Programmes Face Cuts

August 24, 2010: Victorian Poor Law Records Online

August 10, 2010: Justice Job Cuts

July 28, 2010: Prison Violence Growing

July 22, 2010: Police Numbers: Latest Figures

July 22, 2010: New Jurisdiction Rules

July 16, 2010: CCJS On Prison And Probation Spending Under Labour

July 15, 2010: Latest Statistics On Violent And Sexual Crime

July 15, 2010: Latest National Crime Figures

July 15, 2010: New Chief Prisons Inspector

July 14, 2010: Hard Times Ahead For Prisons: Anne Owers

July 14, 2010: Prison Does Not Work: Ken Clarke

July 13, 2010: Criminal Justice Reform: Sentencing and Rehabilitation

July 13, 2010: Criminal Justice Reform Priorities

July 12, 2010: What Price Public Protection, Asks Probation Chief Inspector

July 12, 2010: NOMS has failed, says Napo

July 10, 2010: IPCC To Investigate Death of Raoul Moat

July 9, 2010: Women In Prison: New Report

July 9, 2009: Unjust Deserts: Imprisonment for Public Protection

July 8, 2010: Police Search Powers Change

July 7, 2010: Make 'Legal High' Illegal, Says ACMD

July 2, 2010: Failing Children In Prison

July 2, 2010: Police Buried Under a Blizzard of Guidance: HMIC

July 1, 2010: Freedom To Change The Law?

June 30, 2010: A New Outlook On Penal Reform?

June 30, 2010: Revolving Door Of Offending Must Stop, Says Clarke

June 30, 2010: Ken Clarke: Speech on Criminal Justice Reform

June 29, 2010: No More Police Targets

June 26, 2010: Family Intervention Projects Questioned

June 25, 2010: Cutting Criminal Justice

June 24, 2010: Napo on Sex Offenders Report

June 23, 2010: Closing Courts: The Cuts Begin

June 23, 2010: Strategy To Tackle Gangs

June 15, 2010: Courts and Mentally Disordered Offenders

June 8, 2010: Working With Muslims in Prison

June 1, 2010: Your Chance To Nominate a QC

March 12, 2005: Prisons Overcrowded, says Howard League

Figures released yesterday by the Howard League for Penal Reform show that no less than 76 prisons in England and Wales are overcrowded. Almost three-fifths of male prisons and over one fifth of female prisons are overcrowed.

This comes on the same day that new National Offender Management Service (NOMS) figures on prison population reached a record high, with 75,479 men, women and children behind bars. According to the Howard League, the exponentially rising prison population is having a catastrophic effect on the Prison Service's ability to carry out its primary duty: to look after prisoners with humanity and help them live law-abiding and useful lives on release. Prisoners in over-crowded prisons are:

  • more likely to share cells built for a single occupant. In 2003/04, the average rate of "doubling" (two people sharing a cell built and designed for one) was 21.7%. NOMS Chief Executive. Martin Narey has himself described these conditions as "little short of gross"
  • more likely to spend much of the day locked up in their cells doing nothing instead of preparing themselves for leading a law-abiding life on release
  • more likely to be placed further away from their families, who can be crucial support and can aid rehabilitation
  • more likely to commit suicide and suffer other mental health problems. 11 of the 13 prisons which saw at least 3 suicides last year were seriously overcrowded.

The Howard League also notes that prison overcrowding is exacerbated by staff shortages.  In February 2000, there were 25,859 prison officers. By February 2005, this had reduced to 25,125. During the same period, the prison population has increased by over 10,000.

Howard League Director Frances Crook commented

"Our prison system is bursting at the seams. Overcrowded prisons cannot provide a suitable regime to rehabilitate prisoners, which means that you and I are not safe on the streets. The Howard League for Penal Reform believes that all but the most serious offenders should be given tough community sentences, so offenders make amends for what they have done and take responsibility for their lives. Until politicians take a tough stand against our obsession with locking people up, sentencers will keep wasting scarce and valuable resources on sending people to prison who don't need to be there."