Prison chiefs may use Army camps to house inmates

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Prison officials are examining six Army camps as possible sites for new jails to help ease the overcrowding crisis. The use of Ministry of Defence property for makeshift jails is the latest scheme by the Prison Service which is becoming increasingly desperate to find new accommodation for inmates. The population yesterday went above the 62,000 mark for the first time.

As well as expanding the housing in existing jails officials have drawn up emergency contingency plans that include using more prison ships. However, this is seen as a last resort measure. A Prison Service spokesman said officials were "at a very preliminary stage at looking at the potential of an Army camp" to house prisoners. But before any building can begin they will almost certainly have to overcome any local opposition which has already thwarted an attempt to use a former RAF base. Jason Bennetto