August 1, 2019 12.57 pm This story is over 28 months old

New figures reveal overcrowding levels in Lincoln prison

Local prisons are under the most pressure from overcrowding

HMP Lincoln is listed among prisons in England and Wales where people have been held in overcrowded cells.

The scale of prison overcrowding in England and Wales was revealed in figures seen by the Howard League for Penal Reform, which were released on August 1. However, the Ministry of Justice said all of its prisons are “within their operational capacity which means they are safe for offenders”.

According to the new figures, at the end of June this year 514 people were held in Lincoln prison. An average of 314 held in crowded accommodation in the 12 months ending March 2019 (averages rounded to nearest whole number).

In the 12 months ending March 2019, 59.7% of prisoners were held in doubled accommodation in Lincoln. Doubled accommodation is defined as two prisoners being held in a cell designed for one prisoner.

According to the figures for England and Wales overcrowded prisons are also likely to see high levels of violence and local prisons are under the most pressure from overcrowding.

Most prisoners living in overcrowded conditions across England and Wales are required to share cells that were designed for one person. A small number may be forced to sleep three to a cell in cells meant for two.

Figures also show that on a typical day in England and Wales more than 18,000 prisoners are crammed into cells meant for fewer people. Three in five men’s prisons are holding more prisoners than they are certified to look after.

The worst-affected prison is Wandsworth in South London, where on a typical day more than 1,100 prisoners are held in cells that are overcrowded.

Five men’s prisons to date have triggered Urgent Notifications by Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Prisons and several others have been placed in special measures.

Statistics published by the Ministry of Justice last week revealed that incidents of self-injury and assault in prisons have risen to record levels. Prisons recorded 57,968 incidents of self-injury in the 12 months to the end of March 2019 – at a rate of one every nine minutes.

Frances Crook, Chief Executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform, said: “Keeping thousands of men cooped up like battery hens in overcrowded cells is never going to help them to lead crime-free lives on release.

“This is an intolerable situation and, while the numbers have come down slightly in recent years, they remain frighteningly high. The figures reveal a clear relationship with overcrowding and violence in prisons.

“This is a challenge for the new Secretary of State for Justice, who now has a chance to build a positive legacy. Bold action to reduce the number of people behind bars would not only ease pressure on the prisons; it would save lives, protect staff and prevent crime.”

A Ministry of Justice spokesperson said: “All of our prisons are within their operational capacity which means they are safe for offenders.

“We are building new prisons in Wellingborough, Glen Parva and Full Sutton and have recently opened a new houseblock at HMP Stocken to help reduce crowding as part of our modernisation of the prison estate.”

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