Key Links



Death Penalty


Justice System





Practitioner Links

Domestic Violence

Mental Disorder

Restorative Justice

Sex Offenders

Substance Misuse



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

April 3, 2006: Prison System in Crisis, Says PRT

The Prison Reform Trust (PRT) today released the Bromley briefing prison factfile, showing a system under enormous pressure and a looming overcrowding crisis.

The briefing, available for download on the PRT website, charts ten years of longer sentences, the growing imprisonment of women, young people, petty offenders, the over-use of remand and recall and the extra-ordinary prevalence of drug and alcohol dependence and mental illness in prison: all coupled with the growing failure of pressured prisons to cut re-offending. In the introduction Prison Reform Trust director Juliet Lyon stated:

“These facts and figures about the state of our prisons must act as a wake up call to a Government pre-occupied with other things. Prisons should be places that hold securely, and make every effort to rehabilitate, serious and violent offenders. The skills and focus of those who run them should be wholly directed towards that aim, in the interests of public safety. Instead, rapidly rising numbers have reduced many prisons to locked warehouses in which prison officers are called upon to act simply as turnkeys, processing people in transit from overcrowded jail to overcrowded jail.”

Prison numbers have again crossed the 77,000 barrier. The Home Secretary, in his speech to the Prison Reform Trust last year, emphasised the need to reduce prisoners’ re-offending by improving their employability, treating drug and alcohol addiction and maintaining family links via a new network of community prisons. Overcrowding hazards all of these ambitions.

During the period where the population has grown, and overcrowding has become endemic, prison’s crime-stopping record has worsened dramatically. In 1992 the reconviction rate was 51%, the most recent figure, released by the Home Office, reveals that two in three people, 67%, re-offend within two years of release from prison. On 24 March 2006, the prison population in England and Wales stood at 77,004, a rise of 2,603 on the year before.

The number of prisoners in England and Wales has increased by over 25,000 in the last ten years. In 1995, the average prison population was 50,962. When Labour came to power in May 1997, the prison population was 60,131. Previously, it took nearly four decades (1958-1995) for the prison population to rise by 25,000.  England and Wales has the highest imprisonment rate in western Europe at 143 per 100,000 of the population. France has an imprisonment rate of 88 per 100,000 and Germany has a rate of 97 per 100,000.

The number of women in prison has more than doubled over the past decade. On 24 March 2006, the women’s prison population stood at 4,392. Ten years ago in 1995, the average female prison population was 1,998. Five years ago it stood at 3,355. In 2003, 13,000 women were received into prison. Home Office research has found that 66% of women prisoners are mothers, and each year it is estimated that more than 17,700 children are separated from their mother by imprisonment. On 24 March 2006 there were 11,200 people under 21 years old in prisons in England and Wales. Of these, more than 2,603 were children under 18. The number of children in prison has nearly doubled in the last ten years.

Juliet Lyon commented:

“No one can be satisfied with a prison system which turns people out more, not less, likely to offend again. Overcrowded prisons are turning petty criminals into the old lags of the future. Government has neither the time, nor the money, to build its way out of this looming prison crisis but it does have ready solutions to hand to resurrect fines, enforce work and community payback, divert addicts into treatment and the mentally ill into healthcare. It must act now to increase public and judicial confidence in effective alternatives to custody.”