Home Department written question – answered on 18th April 2006.

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Photo of Henry Bellingham Henry Bellingham Opposition Whip (Commons)

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what action he (a) has taken and (b) is taking to ease prison overcrowding.

Photo of Fiona Mactaggart Fiona Mactaggart Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)

NOMS keeps under review the demand on prison places and the capacity of prisons to accommodate those prisoners sent to them by the courts. It is ensuring maximum use is made of all spare capacity within the prison estate, and increasing useable operational capacity in prisons by building additional places as part of an ongoing funded building programme.

The Government believe that prison should be used to protect the public from the most serious offenders—those who are violent, dangerous or seriously persistent. Less serious offenders can normally be dealt with more effectively in the community with tough community sentences. These can include a wide range of requirements, including unpaid work, drug treatment, and curfews. We have also alerted courts to the availability of electronic monitoring to support a curfew imposed as a condition of bail. Courts are being encouraged to use this option instead of a remand in custody in appropriate cases.

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