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30 November 2022

PRT comment: Government plans to use police cells as it runs out of prison places

Commenting on the announcement today that the government has asked for the use of 400 police cells as part of Operation Safeguard, Peter Dawson, director of the Prison Reform Trust said:

“At the current rate of growth in the number of prisoners, this announcement could buy as little as a fortnight’s relief, and there is nothing to suggest that the new year brings any relief. It’s a short term fix to a completely avoidable long term problem.

“Despite all the evidence to the contrary, politicians continue to claim that harsher sentences and more prisons make us safer. But all they achieve is overcrowded, poorly maintained gaols where people are locked behind a cell door for hours on end. Even if more prison cells were available, there aren’t the staff to use them.

“And so, eventually, the chickens come home to roost, and the obsession with punishment rather than prevention results in this dismal failure to deliver a basic public service.

“The government must now look at why we have one of the highest imprisonment rates in Europe — not just throw yet more money at prison building.”