By politics.co.uk staff
A rise in the number of prisoners allowed to spend nights outside jail has been caused by overcrowding, the Conservatives have claimed.
In the last two years the number of inmates nearing the end of their sentence who are allowed out of prison overnight has trebled.
Figures obtained by the Conservatives revealed in 2006 over 3,800 licences for resettlement overnight release (ROR) were granted. By 2008 that number had risen to over 11,500.
"While there is a case for allowing some prisoners to stay home overnight as they approach release in order to re-establish community links and aid their transition back into society, overnight release should never be used simply because of a lack of prison cells," shadow justice secretary Dominic Grieve said.
The government insisted the purpose of the move was to rehabilitate offenders, rather than relieve "population pressures" within prisons.
But the Tories are claiming that each night spent by a prisoner out of jail are not counted in prison population figures, helping cloud the real extent of Britain's overcrowding problem.
Each prisoner is only permitted four days' ROR before they are released.