Prisons: Overcrowding

Ministry of Justice written question – answered on 15th September 2021.

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Photo of Lyn Brown Lyn Brown Shadow Minister (Justice)

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, with reference to Chapter 9 Table 2.2 of the HMPPS Annual Digest, April 2020 to March 2021, published on 29 July 2021, what assessment he has made of the reasons for the higher crowding rate in contracted out prisons than in public prisons.

Photo of Lyn Brown Lyn Brown Shadow Minister (Justice)

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, with reference to Chapter 9 Table 2.2 of the HMPPS Annual Digest, April 2020 to March 2021, published on 29 July 2021, what steps he is taking to reduce crowding over the next two years.

Photo of Lucy Frazer Lucy Frazer The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice

The 2020/21 HMPPS Annual Digest shows that, compared to 2019/20, levels of crowding decreased across the prison estate, within each category of prison, and in both the public sector prison (PSP) and privately managed prison (PMP) estate. It is not unusual for the PMP estate to have higher levels of crowding than the PSP estate and it has done so since 1999. The main reason for this is that the PMP estate contains a higher proportion of Reception prisons than the PSP estate. The HMPPS 2020/21 Annual Digest shows that these prisons, regardless of their operator, are the most likely to be crowded, and they are therefore over-represented in the smaller sample of PMPs.

We are investing more than £4 billion to make significant progress in delivering 18,000 additional prison places across England and Wales by the mid-2020s.This includes creating four new prisons over the next six years whilst also expanding a number of other prisons over the next three years. Additionally, construction is well underway on HMP Five Wells, the new prison in Wellingborough in Northamptonshire, and Glen Parva in Leicestershire, creating more than 3,300 places.

This additional capacity will have a positive impact on lowering the proportion of crowding within the prison estate. However, the extent to which the proportion of prisoners held in crowded accommodation will reduce will always be dependent on levels of demand in the system.

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