Prisons could be forced to close temporarily because of overcrowding, a report claims.
The Prison Reform Trust warned that the prison population of 77,004 would reach an “historic high” soon.
It said many prison workers privately predicted that prisons could be full by this summer and could close for a time to ease the pressure.
It blamed the “creeping inflation” of sentences and a lack of confidence in effective community measures for the rise in prisoners.
The report was published as figures from the Youth Justice Board showed there were 2,735 under-18s in custody at the end of January – 90 more than at the same point last year and 118 more than in December.