Former prisons chief blasts ‘panicky’ response to overcrowding disaster | EUROtoday

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A former chief inspector of prisons has accused the federal government of asserting “panicky” measures to sort out the prisons capability disaster.

Nick Hardwick, now a professor of Criminal Justice at Royal Holloway University, has known as for a radical rethink to save lots of the creaking justice system, which sees inmates trapped in squalid, overcrowded situations of their cells for 23 hours a day.

Prisons are so full justice secretary Alex Chalk introduced a sequence of emergency proposals in October, together with releasing some prisoners early and controversial proposals to lease jail house abroad.

Writing completely for The IndependentHM Chief Inspector of Prisons from 2010 to 2016, mentioned the measures don’t clear up the elemental downside that prisoners are serving longer sentences, with phrases up 5.4 months on common since 1993.

He mentioned: “The latest government forecast now predicts the prison population will rise to 94,400 by March 2025 and up to 106,3000 by March 2027. The government’s long-term strategy is to build an addition 20,000 prison places at a staggering capital cost alone of £4 billion.

“But prison building has not kept pace with the speed of the population increases and so when the system finally ran out of room back in October, Alex Chalk, one of the better Justice Secretaries we have had in recent years (it was not a problem of his making) announced a series of frankly panicky measures to create some space.

Nick Hardwick has called for a “radical rethink” to save lots of the creaking justice system


“These ranged from releasing some prisoners up to 18 days early, delaying sentencing for some convicted prisoners and installing temporary prefabricated cell units in a few prisons where there was the physical space to do so.”

Although he welcomed proposals to droop most quick jail sentences as “sensible”, he mentioned: “The reason for the increase in the prison population is not that we are sending more people to prison but that we are sending people to prison for longer – if you think of it like a bath, the water is coming in at the same rate but the outflow is blocked so the bath fills up and simply scooping some of the water out does not solve the fundamental problem.”

He issued requires a proposed Prison Capacity Statement to be binding, so when capability is reached convicts have to attend to serve their sentence or others are launched in early. He additionally instructed a Citizens Assembly ought to be shaped to assist the federal government navigate the problems round jail capability and sentencing.

His feedback come as he gave proof to MPs with different jail specialists on overcrowding.

Rob Allen, an unbiased advisor on Prisons, Probation and Youth Justice, informed the Jutsice Committee that he was “flabbergasted” that the federal government was treating housing prisoners abroad as a “serious proposal”, with no plans as to how the prisons shall be managed and inspected or for households to have the ability to keep contact.

“Frankly I don’t think it’s really a very legitimate way of running a penal system to transfer people in that way,” he informed MPs.

Justice Secretary Alex Chalk (Lucy North/PA)

(PA Wire)

Richard Garside, director of The Centre for Crime and Justice Studies, added: “I am not sure that it’s actually a serious proposition….it doesn’t mean they can get away with obligations nationally and internationally towards prisoners in terms of human rights.

“If I was trying to find 300 places in the prisons system I can certainly think of better ways and cheaper ways and more effective ways then ending up offshore.”

He known as for the federal government to look once more at 1000’s of unreleased inmates languishing beneath now defunct imprisonment for public safety (IPP) sentences, lots of which have served greater than a decade longer than their minimal tariff.

“If the government would just do something rather more energetic to expedite the release of IPP prisoners who are over tariff I think that would have quite a big impact on the prison population quite quickly,” he added.

Mark Day, of the Prison Reform Trust, informed the listening to renting house abroad was an “expensive and complicated” manner of accelerating jail capability.

He mentioned there have been “practical, moral, ethical questions about whether its right that we should be sending people from UK jurisdictions to other countries.”

“I think it’s quite an extraordinary proposal yes and I do question how serious the government really is about pursuing it.”