Prison Accommodation

Justice written question – answered on 24th June 2014.

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Photo of Sadiq Khan Sadiq Khan Shadow Minister (London), Shadow Lord Chancellor and Shadow Secretary of State for Justice, Shadow Lord Chancellor and Shadow Secretary of State for Justice

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice on how many occasions prisoners were held in (a) police station and (b) court cells in each month since January 2014.

Photo of Jeremy Wright Jeremy Wright The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice

The number of prisoners held overnight in a police cell has come down to around 1,400 in 2013-14, after reaching a peak of over 50,000 in 2007-08.

Prison numbers fluctuate throughout the year and we have sufficient accommodation for the current and expected population. We will always have enough prison places for those sent to us by the courts. There will be more adult male prison capacity in May 2015 than there was at the start of this Parliament.

Police cells, under Operation Safeguard, have not been used since 22 September 2008 and no police cells under Operation Safeguard have been on stand by since the end of October 2008. Court cells have not been used since 28 February 2008 and have been stood down since March 2008.

As part of standard logistical arrangements, there are occasions where prisoners may be temporarily held overnight in police cells.

We are not using police cells due to a lack of space but because it is not always possible to transfer prisoners from courts to prisons in the time available at the end of court sittings-we have over half a million prisoner transfers a year so it is unsurprising that occasionally we cannot get prisoners back to their prison for one night.

This is solely for overnight accommodation by the police before collection and onward transmission to the prison establishment the following working day. This is not the same as using Operation Safeguard, as in 2007-08.

The following table shows (i) the total number of prisoners who were temporarily held overnight in police cells in England and Wales in each month since January 2014. The totals include adults, young adults (18 to 20-year-olds) and young people (15 to 17-year-olds).

  Number of prisoners
January 2014 168
February 2014 372
March 2014 175
April 2014 64
May 2014 46

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