Jail has only two spare beds
By Benedict O'ConnorONE of the region's jails is “bursting at the seams” with room for just two more prisoners before security is compromised, campaigners have warned.
By Benedict O'Connor
ONE of the region's jails is “bursting at the seams” with room for just two more prisoners before security is compromised, campaigners have warned.
The Home Office has confirmed Highpoint Prison, near Haverhill, which has a capacity of 816 prisoners, currently has 814 inmates.
Juliet Lyon, director of the charity Prison Reform Trust, said: “They are practically bursting at the seams, at the absolute limit before the safety and security of staff and prisoners is jeopardised.
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“Prisoners are being shunted about from prison to prison wherever a spare cell comes up, which means they are not being properly rehabilitated or trained and their families are traipsing all over the country.”
One senior prison officer, who did not wish to be named, claimed the number of prison suicides had soared since jails had started to operate at such capacities.
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Last month two women were found dead in their cells in the space of 10 days at the nearby Edmunds Hill Prison. The Home Office was unable to provide details of the number of inmates at the jail.
But Highpoint Prison governor, Roger Haley, denied the jail was at crisis point and insisted there was no threat to security.
“We have a target of being 98% full to make sure accommodation is being used effectively,” he added.
“We couldn't legally exceed our limit and there is no threat of that happening as we do not take prisoners remanded from courts.”
However, Mr Haley said other jails were in danger of becoming overcrowded because too many people were given custodial sentences for minor offences and, consequently, the prison system was under severe pressure.
His warning came as the number of inmates in England and Wales reached an all-time high of 74,543, with just 600 spare cells throughout the prison system.