Police Custody

Ministry of Justice written question – answered on 29th January 2015.

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Photo of Andrew Selous Andrew Selous Assistant Whip (HM Treasury), The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice

As part of standard logistical arrangements, there are occasions where prisoners may be temporarily held overnight in police cells. We are categorically 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 not the same as using Operation Safeguard, as in 2007-08.

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. 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.

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

Month in 2014

Number of Prisoners

January

168

February

372

March

175

April

64

May

46

June

112

July

274

August

116

September

62

October

96

November

149

December

111

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