Minister: Riots were a 'one-off'

The riots were a 'one-off' event, the prison minister insists
The riots were a 'one-off'event, the prison minister insists

By staff

The riots that beset the streets of England's cities this month were a "one–off", the prisons minister has said.

Speaking at the launch of a tougher community service programme, Crispin Blunt insisted the prison system could handle the increase in prison space needed after the disorder.

"We are completely confident that the prison system and justice system are going to be able to cope with what the police are producing for us," he told the BBC.

"This is an exceptional event. There will be a one-off increase in prison numbers as people serve their sentences.

"What we have to do is make sure there are prison places for those sent to prison by the courts and we will continue to do that regardless of how many people are sent to prison."

The number of inmates in England and Wales hit a record high of 87,000 last Friday, a result of the prison population rising by 1,000 since the riots took place.

Contingency plans have been drawn up by prison chiefs in case space runs out.

The coalition's long-term criminal justice strategy is also under strain.

Justice secretary Ken Clark wants to cut re-offending by allowing voluntary groups and businesses to lobby for work based on rehabilitation rates.

The policy was readily adopted by the coalition because it is Lib-Dem friendly and could save the Treasury money, but with public attitudes hardening since the riots and Tory backbenchers increasingly restless, observers worry it will be rolled back when parliament returns.


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