Home Department written question – answered on 11th February 2004.

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Photo of Dame Cheryl Gillan Dame Cheryl Gillan Shadow Minister of State (Home Office)

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what estimate he has made of the total prison capacity in each of the next 10 years.

Photo of Paul Goggins Paul Goggins Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Home Office

The information requested is provided in the following table.

Average useable operational capacity
2004 75,000
2005 77,100
2006 78,700
2007 78,700
2008 78,700
2009 78,700
2010 78,700
2011 78,700
2012 78,700
2013 78,700

The figures given in this table are the average useable operational capacity projected to 2006 and beyond. Useable operational capacity is the measure used for long-term estate planning purposes. It is the total number of prisoners that establishments can hold taking into account control, security and the proper operation of the planned regime. It is determined by operational managers on the basis of their operational judgment and experience.

The maximum number of prisoners that the state could normally hold, as the average operational capacity, is up to 2,000 less than the total certified operational capacity. This is because of constraints imposed by the need to provide separate accommodation for different classes of prisoner i.e. by sex, age, security category and conviction status, single cell risk assessment and also due to geographical distribution.

Two new prisons will open at Ashford, in June 2004, and Peterborough, in March 2005, and funding has also been provided for around 3,000 additional public sector prison places to be built at existing prisons by 2006. This will increase the total useable capacity of the prison estate to around 78,700. There are no plans or funding at present to increase useable capacity beyond this figure.

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