South Wales Police House 571 Prisoners due to Prison Overcrowding

July 4, 2007 2:55 PM

Today, the Welsh Liberal Democrats released exclusive figures showing that South Wales Police have been forced to house over 571 different prisoners so far this year because prisons were too full.

The number of prisoners that have been held under the scheme has increased from 25 prisoners in January, to 198 in May, and it continued to rise in June.

The costs to South Wales Police have also risen from approximately £310 a day in January to at least £3,000 a day. Based on Ministry of Justice figures, so far this year South Wales Police have spent at least £220,000 housing prisoners in their police cells.

Also today, Jenny Willott MP challenged new Under-Secretary of State for Wales, Huw Irranca-Davies, at Welsh Questions on what impact this was having on the ability of South Wales Police force to do their job. He said the situation was "not ideal" and that it was important to focus on the causes of crime.

Commenting, she said:

"Labour's prisons overcrowding cock-up is forcing South Wales Police to waste both their time and hundreds of thousands of pounds clearing up the mess.

"In June, at least 7 prisoners a day were being ferried around, housed and fed by South Wales Police. Although this is supposed to be a temporary measure, the figures show that more and more prisoners are being held by police in South Wales every month. It is hard to see this ceasing before the end of the year.

"The Government's self-inflicted prisons crisis is spreading and is affecting the police. South Wales Police should not have to spend their precious time and resources acting as prison wardens. They should be free to focus on what they do best - keeping people safe from crime and anti-social behaviour.

"This mess is a direct result of Labour's head-in-the-sand approach to the rising prison population, their addiction to law-making and their blind devotion to the prison system.

"Our prisons are full. Two-thirds of prisoners recommit crimes within two years of release. And to keep up with our ever-growing prison population, we will have to build thousands of new prison places on top of those already planned.

"This is not a sustainable solution. If we really want to keep people safe, our police must be free to focus on crime prevention, and our justice system must have the resources and flexibility to tackle the causes of crime as well as punish it. Sadly, the Government has focused its efforts on the latter."

ENDS

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