Labour pledges to deliver 14,000 new prison spaces to ease overcrowding crisis

Labour say they have a plan to fix Britain's overcrowded prisons, ITV News' Jasmine Cameron-Chileshe reports

Labour promised to deliver 14,000 more prison places as it blamed Conservative inaction for the prison estate “bursting at the seams”.

Labour shadow justice secretary Shabana Mahmood told the BBC on Sunday that Labour would make prisons “of national importance”.

She said: “From day one, a Labour Government will deem prisons to be of national importance. It means that the planning decision is ultimately made by ministers, rather than going through the usual local authority planning process.

“So we can move much faster than this Government, who have let themselves get bogged down by backbencher complaints and the planning process, so we can deliver the full 20,000 (prison places).”

Defending Labour’s plans to create additional prisons spaces without tax rises, said it w as not a "money problem."

"The money has already been allocated in the Ministry of Justice budget, it’s actually a failure of the Government because they’ve allowed the planning system to get in the way and they’ve allowed complaints from their members of parliament, backbenchers in particular, to stop any building in our country.

“So this is actually about the Government having the will to get prisons built on day one. We would designate prisons as being of national importance, so that those decisions are ultimately made by ministers rather than the usual planning process.”

Classifying prisons as sites of national importance so ministers can take control of planning decisions would stop the “powder keg waiting to explode” behind bars, Ms Mahmood said.

The Tories hit back that they are already “overseeing the largest expansion to the prison estate since the Victorian era”.

Labour’s manifesto this week will also comprise pledges to set up 80 new specialist rape courts across and England and Wales, introduce specialist rape units in every police force, and introduce laws to crack down on violence against shop staff, according to Sunday newspapers.

And in a bid to kill off the Tories’ much-disputed claim that Labour would hike taxes by £2,000, Sir Keir will include a cast-iron pledge in the manifesto not to raise income tax, national insurance or VAT for five years, The Sunday Times reported.

Meanwhile, the Conservatives are attempting to put a lid on the fallout from the Prime Minister’s early return from D-Day commemorations.

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