The record prison population is preventing prisons and young
offenders institutions from providing adequate purposeful activity
and resettlement work for prisoners, according to a new report,
writes Clare Jerrom.
Overcrowding is causing prisons to fail in the provision of
sufficient work, education, offending behaviour programmes and
resettlement advice, the Prison Reform Trust study reveals. Some
prisoners are also prevented from seeing their families because
they are being held a long distance from them.
The findings are based on a study of boards of visitors, which
are independent watchdogs appointed by the home secretary to
monitor prison conditions. Seventy seven boards of visitors said
the prison they monitored is adversely affected by
The population is having an impact on the safety of the
prisoners and staff. In some prisons, the level of assaults and
incidence of self-harm has increased.
Prisons are also being forced to hold inmates inappropriately in
wrong security conditions or in unsuitable parts of the prison.
The report warns that urgent action is needed to reduce the
prison population. It warns that unless less serious offenders are
diverted away from prison and into supervision in the community,
any attempts to prepare prisoners for release into the society will
be severely undermined.
‘Prison Overcrowding: The Inside Story’ is available from 020