Prison Places

Oral Answers to Questions — Justice – in the House of Commons at 2:30 pm on 31st January 2012.

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Photo of Kerry McCarthy Kerry McCarthy Shadow Minister (Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs) 2:30 pm, 31st January 2012

What arrangements his Department has put in place to deal with any future shortfall in prison places.

Photo of Kenneth Clarke Kenneth Clarke The Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice

On Friday 27 January, the prison population was 87,668 against a capacity of 89,399 places, providing headroom of 1,731 places, so there are sufficient places for those being remanded and sentenced to custody. We will keep the prison population under

careful review to ensure that there is always sufficient capacity to accommodate all those committed to custody by the courts.

Photo of Kerry McCarthy Kerry McCarthy Shadow Minister (Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs)

I thank the Secretary of State for that response. I understand that possible shortfalls are predicted in particular regions as opposed to on a national level. The Minister will know that maintaining family links during a period of imprisonment is a critical factor in reducing reoffending on release. Will he assure the House that steps will be taken to ensure that prisoners are kept as close to their family and their place of origin as possible?

Photo of Kenneth Clarke Kenneth Clarke The Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice

In many cases, a high priority is given to trying to house prisoners in places where they are reasonably in contact with their family and home. Of course, the more pressure the service comes under, the more difficult it is to maintain that, but I am sure it remains an objective of those who allocate prisoners to the correct prison once they receive their sentence.