Prisons: Overcrowding

Justice written question – answered on 25th 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

(1) what proportion of the prison population were in overcrowded accommodation on 1 April (a) 2009, (b) 2010, (c) 2011, (d) 2012, (e) 2013 and (f) 2014;

(2) what proportion of the prison population were sharing cells on 1 April (a) 2009, (b) 2010, (c) 2011, (d) 2012, (e) 2013 and (f) 2014.

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

We will always have enough prison places for those sent to us by the courts and continue to modernise the prison estate so that it delivers best value for the taxpayer. This Government have a long-term strategy for managing the prison estate which will provide more adult male prison capacity than we inherited from the previous Government.

Crowding occurs when the number of prisoners in an accommodation unit exceeds the Certified Normal Accommodation in that unit. The average rate of crowding is published annually in the NOMS annual report and accounts.

Figures for the years 2005-06 to 2013-14 are as follows:

  Average rate of crowding
2005-06 24.0
2006-07 24.6
2007-08 25.3
2008-09 24.7
2009-10 24.1
2010-11 23.8
2011-12 24.1
2012-13 23.3
2013-14 22.9

In 2013-14, the average number of prisoners held in crowded conditions decreased to 22.9% of the total population compared to 23.3% in 2012-13. This is the lowest level since 2001-02 and has come down from a high of 25.3% in 2007-08.

While we collect the total number of prisoners held in crowded conditions we do not centrally record the overall numbers of prisoners who are accommodated in multiple-occupancy cells, be it crowded (eg two prisoners held in a cell designed for one) or not (eg two prisoners held in a cell designed for two). To identify the number of prisoners who shared a cell in each prison in England and Wales in each of the last five years would require manually going through prisoners' individuals records to identify each prisoner’s cell location in each prison in each of the last five years, which could be undertaken only at disproportionate cost.

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