ONE NIGHT IN POLICE CELLS COSTS MORE THAN A WEEK IN THE CANARIES - WILLOTT

2008 Ionawr 25 12:00 AM

New figures show that the Government is spending £459 every time a police cell is used to house a prisoner, more than the government's own estimate of £385, and more than a week-long stay in a Canary Island holiday villa.

The statistics revealed in a Parliamentary Answer to Liberal Democrat Justice Spokesperson, Jenny Willott, reveal how much each police force invoiced the Ministry of Justice for costs incurred under 'Operation Safeguard' - the Government's contingency plan to deal with prison overcrowding.

Last year, 60, 953 prisoners were housed in police cells under Operation Safeguard at a total cost of £28m

Commenting, Jenny Willott said:

"The Government's gross incompetence in managing our prison system is leaving the taxpayer picking up a huge bill.

"Ministers have massively underestimated the knock-on costs of prison overcrowding. For £460 per night, a family could buy a week-long stay in a holiday villa in the Canaries.

"The Government has put us in this hopeless position by failing to plan for the future while putting record numbers behind bars in an effort to appear tough on crime.

"Rather than spending public money sensibly on our police forces and sensible measures to reduce reoffending, the Government is squandering more and more on increasingly desperate attempts to find places to house prisoners."

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