Friday, 28 March 2008

The Government is lying about Prison Population.

The government would have us believe that they have increased prison capacity since they have been in power by 20,000. The Ministry of Justice puts today's prison capacity at 82,205 places (plus 400 places in police cells). That is, to quote the Spectator's Coffee House, a Brownie. Going by the government's own Certified Normal Accommodation (CNA) figures, the actual capacity of our prisons in England and Wales is 72,110. This means that our prisons are not running a couple of hundred places above capacity, they are in reality (i.e un-fudged) running at 112% capacity. Going by the latest Prison population figures our prisons are overpopulated by 9,610 prisoners.

To clear things up, here is the Prison Service's definition of Certified Normal Accommodation:

Certified Normal Accommodation (CNA), or uncrowded capacity, is the Prison Service’s own measure of accommodation. CNA represents the good, decent standard of accommodation that the Service aspires to provide all prisoners. CNA at present is 72,110.

You see, all the government has done is crammed two prisoners into cells designed for one, or three into cells suitable for two. The following is taken from Hansard written answers for the 27th March 2008:
Prison Accommodation

Mr. Garnier: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many prisoners were (a) doubling up in cells designed for one and (b) trebling up in cells designed for two on the latest date for which figures are available.

Maria Eagle: At the end of February, 19,382 prisoners were reported as being doubled in cells certified to hold one person and 1,207 prisoners were reported as being trebled in cells certified to hold two people.
When the government quote capacity figures of 82,205, they are actually quoting is the Useable Operational Capacity which is the operational capacity less 1700 places. The Operational Capacity of a prison is the total number of prisoners that an establishment can hold taking into account control, security and the proper operation of the planned regime. It is determined by area managers on the basis of operational judgement and experience. In other words it is the limit of operational capability, not the recommended level (CNA).

Brian Caton, General Secretary of the Prison Officers Association said;

“The problems of overcrowding are not new; and the problems we face today are as a direct result of the lack of real investment for new prisons over the last 10 years. “If things continue as they are we will see more and more unsuitable and dangerous prisoners released early and public safety will be at risk.


James Higham said...

Soon will come the prison hulks and then transportation to Australia or some such.

Meanwhile, he number of indictable offences increases.

William Gruff said...

We must be consistent. What is it we expect from prison and whom, in prison, are we concerned about?

If, like me, one considers prison of no redeeming value whatsoever, one's concern must be for the prison officers above those incarcerated, because those incarcerated should only be those considered irredeemable and the irredeemable are of no concern.

The number of those in prison is of concern only inasmuch as it affects those imprisoning the number. If the gaolers can cope who cares how the gaoled fair?

My concern is not for the scum imprisoned by a reasonable society but for those who contain them.

Daily Referendum said...

Mr Gruff,

I totally agree. It may seem that I'm complaining about prisoners being crammed into cells. I don't give a monkey's if they were ten to a cell as far as their welfare was concerned. What does bother me is the usual Labour manipulation of the figures. That, and the fact that Prison Officers are the ones that have to live with those lies. I could have gone into more detail. For one thing I make the actual number of prison places created in the last ten years less than 10,000. And I'm sure you can work out that most of those were commissioned by the previous government.

Anonymous said...

Steve, I think you are right here. The problem is the blatant deliberate manipulation of Official figures to disguise the consequences of deliberate Government refusal to act.

I have come to the reluctant conclusion that we have two types of criminals in Britain. The 'accidental' criminal who has been led astray by others into a first offence, or those who have fallen foul of some of NuLabour's avalanche of new offences. The second is the 'habitual' criminal. These are those who have multiple appearances in court to their credit. Their lives are dedicated to the commission of crime.

We should aim to help the accidental criminals to return to society as quickly and smoothly as possible, doing whatever is required to ensure that. The habitual criminal should be permanently excluded from society. That implies their removal from our society in some way; and that is what I would propose. By their actions they have proven themselves to be 'Outlaws'. Therefore they have no rights and priveleges. Society should provide a place for them far from its own bounds where they can set up their own society to live by their own laws. I would suggest St Kilda. Once free of the perpetual hardened criminal our society will improve markedly.

One question that always nages me though is should we include all politicians, accountants and lawyers in the groups excluded?