Ministers have confirmed that the government is running out of spaces in prisons nationwide and they have had to kickstart a contingency plan.
Operation Safeguard is now in use for the first time since 2007 and has led to the government asking police for the temporary use of 400 cells in stations across the country.
The government have “long anticipated” a rise and “planned ahead” for it, according to prisons minister Damian Hinds, who also said there has been an “acute and sudden increase in the prison population”.
He blamed the rise on recent strike action by the Criminal Bar Association (CBA), as well as court proceedings returning to normal after the pandemic.
However, the CBA claim remand numbers were at a decade-long high even before their strike action and called the ministers words “gaslighting by government to cover up their failure to invest in the criminal justice system for years before we took action to save the situation.
“In every respect the criminal justice system is short of justice professionals. The remand population was at a 14 year-high by the end of June largely because over 8,500 defendants remained locked up without having had a trial, and this was all before the Criminal Bar escalated to strike action on defence cases.”
According to Hinds, by the spring the strain on prisons will have eased, due to new housing blocks and a new prison being built.
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