Prison population tops 74,000

Prison population tops 74,000
Prison population tops 74,000

The prison population has risen yet again to a record, up by more than 2,500 inmates on the same period last year.

There are now 74,012 prisoners held in the UK despite the fact that the country's jails are designed to hold just 66,000 people. And the growing number of people serving custodial sentences is threatening to send the prison population over the 76,000 cap for 'safe' levels of overcrowding.

The latest figures come just ten days after the publication of a report by the Prison Reform Trust, which suggested that the courts are now over-reliant jail sentences.

The report claims that the Government's drive to be 'tough on crime' has led to a 71% increase in the prison population between 1991 and 2001, despite a decrease in the overall crime and conviction rates.

It is estimated that two-thirds of the UK's prisons are now overcrowded, which jeopardises the possibility of effectively rehabilitating inmates, according to reform campaigners.

They have called for far greater use of community-based sentences, particularly for less serious offenders who would spend less than six months in jail.

The Conservatives, however, have argued for more prisons to be built, claiming that if the judiciary believes people should be imprisoned, the Government had to accommodate them.