Home Politics Prison governors ‘warned that prisons will reach critical point in July’ due to overcrowding

Prison governors ‘warned that prisons will reach critical point in July’ due to overcrowding

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HM Prison and Probation Service officials warned prison bosses that a

Prisons in England and Wales will reach crisis point next month and will be forced to turn away new inmates due to overcrowding, bosses have warned.

HM Prison and Probation Service officials have warned prison bosses that an “operational capacity breaking point” will arrive just days after the July 4 election.

It comes amid already desperate measures by the government to reduce pressure on the British prison system, which have included releasing thousands of prisoners before the end of their sentences.

But the government has reportedly not taken steps that go far enough to counter the problem, and the crisis is expected to trigger emergency plans dubbed Operation Early Dawn in the first days of the new government.

The operation allows prisoners to be kept in custody in police stations instead of prisons, as well as delaying the hearing of cases in magistrates’ courts.

HM Prison and Probation Service officials have warned prison bosses that an “operational capacity breaking point” will arrive just days after the July 4 election.

Tom Wheatley, president of the Prison Governors Association, has attributed the outgoing government's inaction to prison overcrowding.

Tom Wheatley, president of the Prison Governors Association, has attributed the outgoing government’s lack of action to prison overcrowding.

Tom Wheatley, president of the Prison Governors Association, told the guardian: ‘We understand that we will no longer be able to receive prisoners from the court in the second or third week of July. It’s not an exact science, but it is very soon after the election.

‘This position was projected some time ago. The outgoing government did not take the necessary measures in time to prevent it.’

Operation Early Dawn was last activated in May and was forecast to last about a week.

The Law Society said at the time that the measures “could cause chaos as victims, witnesses, defendants and lawyers” would have to appear in court only to discover their case had been delayed.

The society reported that a lawyer, criminal defense attorney Kerry Hudson, revealed the contents of a court attendance note, which stated: “The client was not brought to court due to Operation Early Dawn, although he is listed in court 10.” .

They may or may not present it tomorrow. He may already be out on bail. Who knows? I’ll have to check it with the cells tomorrow.

Wheatley said any attempt by officials to continue sending inmates to prisons could be challenged in court because it would put staff “at risk.”

The latest prison population data published by the Ministry of Justice last week showed that there are currently just under 1,500 spaces available in prisons in England and Wales, meaning jails are 98 per cent full.

Operation Early Dawn was last activated in May and was forecast to last about a week.

Operation Early Dawn was last activated in May and was forecast to last about a week.

For much of this year emergency measures have already been implemented in England and Wales allowing some offenders to be released up to 70 days before their sentence in a bid to free up more space.

Judges have also been urged to consider community sentences for non-violent offenders, rather than jail terms.

Many offenders are already released halfway through their sentence, provided they have good behavior, but officials are now considering reducing this amount to 43 percent.

It is believed this could quickly free up thousands of slots at a time when the court system has a huge backlog of cases.

The prison population has increased by 93 per cent in the last three decades to more than 87,000, and in March there were only 500 prison places available in England and Wales.

Shabana Mahmood, Labour’s shadow justice secretary, said: “This is just the latest example of the chaos the Conservatives have created in our criminal justice system.”

‘Not only are they secretly releasing prisoners, they are now deliberately delaying the delivery of justice. For months, the Conservatives have been operating under a cloak of darkness. They must now clarify the true magnitude of the crisis under their command.’

The Ministry of Justice has been contacted for comment.

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