11 October 2019 – today’s press release

New figures show prison overcrowding crisis getting worse

The Liberal Democrats are calling for an end to short prison sentences, as new figures show the number of overcrowded prisons is rising.

The latest prison population statistics, published today by the Ministry of Justice, show that 73 of the 117 prisons in England and Wales were overcapacity at the end of September – up from 69 at the end of August. Nine prisons are overcapacity by more than 50%.

Liberal Democrat Shadow Home Secretary Christine Jardine said:

Prisons are in crisis. They are stuffed full of people on short sentences, which we know don’t work to stop reoffending.

Boris Johnson is ignoring the evidence about what actually prevents crime and keeps people safe. Instead, he just wants to carry on locking more and more people up, just to appear ‘tough on crime’.

Overcrowding means that prisoners spend too much time locked in their cells, unable to do the education, work and treatment that would rehabilitate them. Staff are overstretched and unable to cope, so violence, drug use, self-harm and suicide have all become far too common.

It’s no wonder that half of prisoners reoffend within a year after being released.

Liberal Democrats demand better. We will tackle overcrowding by ending the use of pointless short prison sentences. And we will protect people from becoming victims of crime by investing in the rehabilitative services that actually stop reoffending.

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This entry was posted in News.


  • Our first priority must be to look at the backgrounds of people who are prison. The numbers who have been looked after children are unacceptable. And yet we accept them. Until we are prepared to spend the small amounts of money needed to properly cater for their needs then we will continue to fail them.
    The numbers who have been diagnosed with special educational needs are unacceptable. And yet we accept them. Until we are prepared to spend the small amounts of money needed to properly cater for their needs then we will continue to fail them.
    There are many other aspects of course, such as the problems of negotiating the legal system without money, but let us start with the most obvious.

  • nigel hunter 12th Oct '19 - 11:06am

    To maintain Tory ideology and to keep the voters on their side they have to be shown to be ‘tough on crime’.They plow money into the prison system but as said they come out and commit further crimes thru lack of support.do it again.The system needs to be completely reviewed so that the money is used wisely throughout society so people do not recommit crime.

  • Nigel,
    The Tories may talk tough on crime but they certainly don’t walk the walk

    Spending on the police has fallen by 18% since 2009/10


    Extra money was pumped into the prison system, after a riot in Birmingham prison brought public attention to problems with the system. The 2016 Autumn Statement announced £291m over three years.
    But spending is still lower than it was eight years ago. In 2017/18, around £3.2bn was spent on prisons; 13% less in real terms than in 2009/10.


    Beware of Tories baring gifts, they cost you a lot just ask the DUP. That poor deluded lot don’t look triumphal at the prospect of Brexit. Like Moses they may have seen the promised land in their case the Brexit sunlit uplands, but they won’t be getting in. Bless it would take a heart of stone not to laugh.

  • Richard Underhill. 12th Oct '19 - 10:54pm

    Population figures should be considered separately for men and women.

  • Richard Underhill. 13th Oct '19 - 9:19am

    Frankie: “Beware of Tories baring gifts” naked gifts?? prefer bearing ??

  • Well there is never anything in the gifts they bear, so bare gifts they are.

  • Build more prisons and you fill them with prisoners, this process seems to have beern endless for 25 year or more. The arguments for and against never change and probably never will , in the meantime expect more and more prison places, with more and more prisoners, many serving longer and longer sentences.
    There was a moment in the early 1990’s when things went the other way through deliberate government policy, prison populations came down, regimes improved etc etc, then the Bulger case and the Parkhurst escape brought the clamps down which seems to been incessant ever since.

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