Oxfordshire: Scale Of Prison Overcrowding Revealed

Figures have revealed the extent of overcrowding at prisons in the Thames Valley.

The Howard League for Penal Reform has been analysing statistics gathered by the Ministry of Justice between January 2013 and January 2015.

HMP Bullingdon in Oxfordshire had 223 more inmates than it was designed to house.

Meanwhile, HMP Huntercombe in the same county had 98 over it's 307 places.

Aylesbury prison was one of the few jails which had a polulation below the maximum recommended level.

Nationally, Between the end of January 2013 and the end of January 2015, the prison population (excluding immigration removal centres) rose from 83,062 to 83,680.

Over the same period, 12 prisons were either closed or re-roled and the number of places was cut from 78,935 to 75,374.

At its worst, overcrowding can mean two prisoners sharing a 6ft-by-10ft cell designed for one with little ventilation and an unscreened toilet at the foot of the bunks.

Official inspections have found prisoners spending up to 23 hours a day in such conditions, as overcrowded prisons lack the resources to house people safely, give them something to do and reduce reoffending following release.

Frances Crook, Chief Executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform, said:

'Caging men in squalor with nothing to do all day is never going to help them become law-abiding citizens on release. Far too many people are being sent into already overcrowded jails and the need to stem the flow is now urgent.

'The Government must get a grip on a prison system in crisis that is feeding the crime problem and creating more victims.'