Prison Overcrowding Costs Welsh Police Forces £1.25m and Rising

July 18, 2007 10:56 AM

Today, the Welsh Liberal Democrats released exclusive figures showing that Welsh Police Forces have had to spend over £1.25 million transporting, feeding and housing prisoners in police cells due to prison overcrowding.

The figures are details of invoices submitted to the Ministry of Justice for costs incurred to Welsh police forces under Operation Safeguard which authorises the use of police cells to temporarily house offenders when prison are overcrowded. The figures that run from October until end of March 2007 show the costs to different Welsh police forces:

· South Wales Police - £734,765

· North Wales Police - £238,486

· Dyfed Powys Police - £225,149

Commenting, Jenny Willott MP said:

"The costs of this Government's prisons cock-up to Welsh police forces is much higher than previously thought.

"South Wales Police have been hit hardest. But the £0.75m costs they have incurred are only from October last year to March this year so this is only the tip of the iceberg. Over the last few months, South Wales Police have had to house far more prisoners than at the start of the year so the costs are likely to be much, much higher.

"The impact of Labour's self-inflicted prisons crisis on South Wales Police is extremely worrying. South Wales Police have had to spend more and more money and waste more and more time looking after increasing numbers of prisoners.

"South Wales Police officers are not prison wardens. They are there to keep people safe from crime and they are being diverted from this task.

"Until Labour start to pull their head from the sand, lose their addiction to new law-making and start to realise that the prison system is not always the best way to handle criminals, this problem will not go away.

"Even with the new prisons the Government has planned or the number of prisons the Tories want to build, we will ultimately find ourselves back in the same position with our prisons full, reoffending at record rates and the police desperately trying to pick up the pieces.

"If we really want to keep people safe, our justice system must be flexible enough to tackle the causes of crime as well as punish it. This way, our police will be free to focus their efforts and resources on crime prevention without having to act like part-time jailers."

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