Government cell building failure means prisons turning criminals away, Labour says

Justice Secretary Alex Chalk acknowledged prison places were under 'intense pressure'. Credit: PA

The government's failure to build enough cells has led to "prisons are turning criminals away" Labour has claimed as it promised to build more to keep up with growing demand.

According to the government’s own projections, the Labour Party said, the growth of the prison population is set to outpace the supply of prison places.

By this November, the Ministry of Justice projects the number of prisoners will hit 89,100, but there will be only 87,573 operational prison places – leaving a shortage of 1,527 places.

Appearing before the Commons Justice Committee last month, Justice Secretary Alex Chalk acknowledged prison places were under "intense pressure" but insisted there would be enough spaces within the prison system to "keep the British people safe".

Shadow Justice Secretary Steve Reed: "The situation has become so chaotic that the Conservative Government has instructed judges not to lock up dangerous criminals, leaving them to roam the streets and seek out new victims.

"To make matters worse, criminals who do end up in jail have been allowed to run riot with violence and drug abuse spiralling out of control, driving up reoffending rates."

Commenting on Mr Reed’s comments, justice minister Damian Hinds said: "The last time Labour were in power they released 80,000 prisoners early, including terrorists.

"Meanwhile, we have cut the reoffending rate to lower than when Labour left office, increased the conviction rate by 15%, introduced tougher sentences for the worst offenders, and are building more new prison places than under any Labour government."

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