Projections from the Ministry of Justice show that the number of prisoners in England and Wales is expected to jump to nearly 100,000 by 2026. The current total is 78,328.
Most of the rise is projected to come from the Government’s recruitment of 20,000 police officers as part of its pledge to strengthen law and order. It is anticipated that this will lead to more offenders being jailed, with a record high estimation of 98,700 prisoners by September 2026. Critics have recently raised concerns about the proportion of offences recorded by police resulting in prosecution as the overall rate now is below 10 per cent.
About 5,000 of the increase is expected to come in the next 12 months due to a trial backlog caused by the coronavirus pandemic which has resulted in offenders waiting for trial dates.
New legislation such as outlawing coercive control by domestic abuse, anti-knife and acid crime laws are also anticipated to put more people behind bars. There is a projected 20 per cent increase in the number being charged for sex crimes, including rape.
The report also says that increases are expected in the number of suspects held on remand awaiting prosecution and of offenders recalled to prison for breaching the terms of their release. Kelly Darlington at Farleys recently wrote about how the Government has been criticised for crimes committed by offenders on licence. Farleys are currently instructed on a number of inquests involving murders where the offender was under the supervision of the National Probation Service at the time.
However, there are concerns that the high levels of incarceration and poor conditions within many prisons will lead to little rehabilitation of offenders.
There has also been a recent call on the Government to reduce the number of people in detention settings in light of the Covid-19 outbreak. Deaths of people in custody are at a historic high and with the implementation of restrictive regimes, suspension of family visits and additional pressures on physical and mental health care, this has led to concerns that this problem will escalate. Last month the Ministry of Justice released the latest safety in custody statistics, which show that every five days a person in prison takes their life.
If you require representation at an inquest following a death in prison or advice after an injury in prison, please contact Farleys Solicitors on 0845 287 0939 or send your enquiry by email and a member of the team will contact you.