Justice Committee to take evidence from prison chiefs amid capacity pressures
The Justice Committee will take evidence from the Chief Inspector of Prisons, the National Chair of the Independent Monitoring Boards and the President of the Prison Governors Association as part of its current inquiry into the future prison population and estate capacity.
MPs on the cross-party committee will examine the projected changes to the size and composition of the prison population, the implications on the capacity of the prison estate and the deliverability of the Government’s current prison expansion programme. The session will also examine the efficacy of the Government’s strategy to safely and effectively manage the prison population.
The committee will also take evidence on the pressures facing the prison estate, including overcrowding, the deteriorating condition of old prison buildings and the lack of staff to safely manage and rehabilitate offenders. Discussion will focus on the Government’s approach, including reforms announced in October by the Lord Chancellor, plus plans to rent prison capacity abroad.
In response to the acute increase in the adult male estate last October, the Government activated Operation Safeguard, sanctioning the temporary use of up to 400 police cells to hold people overnight when there is insufficient space. This year, the Government also started rolling out Rapid Deployment Cells to manage the demand for prison places. Should the Government deliver its planned capacity projects on time, there will still potentially be a shortfall of 2,300 prison places against projected demand by March 2025.