Prison population hits new high

The prison population in England and Wales has risen to its highest ever figure, according to Ministry of Justice figures released yesterday.

There are now 84,150 inmates behind bars – a rise 3,000 in the last two years despite around 63,000 prisoners being released early from jail since June 2007.

Prisons are still 1,000 places below their capacity of 85,137, and the Government has pledged to increase this figure to 96,000 by 2014. But Juliet Lyon, director of the Prison Reform Trust, said: “It is difficult to see how Government can continue to waste billions building more prisons while ignoring the reasons why numbers have shot up. Investing in preventative work [with the vulnerable] would cut crime and improve public health at a fraction of the cost of vacuous prison-building.”