LAW AND ORDER: Jail population breaks through 60,000 landmark

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The Independent Online
The prison population passed the landmark 60,000 figure yesterday. The number of inmates held in the 135 prisons of England and Wales stood at an all-time high of 60,012, of which 2,580 were women.

The news prompted protests from penal campaigners but a defiant response from the Home Secretary, Michael Howard, who said jail remained an effective crime deterrent. The rapid rise in the jail population is a result of the Government's emphasis on locking up offenders and encouragement to courts to hand out stiffer sentences.

The Prison Service said it could accommodate the population within the existing estate, which has a total capacity of 61,190. However, it added that new accommodation, including the prison ship HMP Weare, would be needed to take account of future increases. Prison officials are seeking sites for 12 new jails to cope with the growing numbers of inmates.

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