Sadiq Khan MP, Labour’s Shadow Justice Secretary, responding to the NAO Report Managing the prison estate, said:

“This NAO report confirms that David Cameron’s prisons policy is in tatters. The Prime Minister and Chris Grayling have cancelled the prison building programme they inherited from Labour, and have closed down so many prisons at such a fast pace that there is now a shortage of prison places. To make matters worse, the report criticises the Government for closing prisons which do a good job in punishing and reforming criminals and replacing them with newer prisons that aren’t up to scratch. 

“Latest Ministry of Justice figures show there are just 509 prison spaces left in England and Wales, with the system operating at over 99% of capacity. Things are  so bad that police stations and court cells might have to be used. Public confidence in our justice system will be massively damaged if there’s not enough space in prisons to lock up criminals.”




Editor’s notes 

1.     As of last Friday, the prison population stands at 85,429, with capacity at 85,938, leaving just 509 prison places, and a system running at 99.41%

2.     The coalition government cancelled Labour’s prison building programme. On 14 December 2010, they announced the cancellation of Maghull Prison on Merseyside wasting £16million of taxpayers’ money 

3.     The two prisons which have opened since May 2010 – HMP Thameside and HMP Oakwood – were both started under Labour.

4.     Capital spending on the prison building programme has shrunk from £433million in 2009/10 to £134million in 2012/13 – a cut of 69%

5.     In the last twelve months, capacity has been cut by 4,487 places

In total, 13 prisons have closed since May 2010, with three partially closed, and 4 more to close by next Spring.

On 13 January 2011, three prison closures were announced (loss of 849 places):
• HMP Lancaster Castle
• HMP Ashwell
• HMP Moreton Hall to be turned into an Immigration Centre

On 13 July 2011, two further prison closures were announced (loss of 377 places):
• HMP Latchmere House
• HMP Brockhill

On 17 July 2012 a further prison closure was announced (loss of 588 places):
• HMP Wellingborough

On 10 January 2013, a further round of closures and part-closures were announced (with the loss of 2,600 places)
6 more prisons would close:
• HMP Canterbury
• HMP Gloucester
• HMP Bulwood Hall
• HMP Kingston
• HMP Shrewsbury
• HMP Shepton Mallet
And three would partially close:
• HMP Chelmsford
• HMP Hull
• HMP Isle of Wight
And 200 places from the private sector will be decommissioned

On 4 September 2013, it was confirmed that 4 more prisons would close by the end of 2013/14 with the loss of 1,400 places
• HMP Blundeston
• HMP Dorchester
• HMP Northallerton
• HMP/YOI Reading
• HMP Verne (to be converted to an immigration removal centre)
In addition:
• HMP Dartmoor – discussions beginning with the leaseholder about its future
• HMP Downview – stop holding women prisoners and convert to hold adult male prisoners (by end of 2013/14)
• YOI Warren Hill – convert from young offenders to hold adult male prisoners (by end of 2013/14)

6.     HMP Oakwood – Chris Grayling’s favourite prison

On 5 February 2013 in the House of Commons, Chris Grayling said “we have a very good model for prison development in Oakwood, which opened recently in the west midlands. That site has multiple blocks and first-class training facilities. To my mind, it is an excellent model for the future of the Prison Service

On 8 October 2013, the Chief Inspector of Prisons produced a damning report on HMP Oakwood. It said “this is unquestionably a concerning report” and “against all four of our healthy prison tests, safety, respect, activity and resettlement, the outcomes we observed were either insufficient or poor”

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