Prison overcrowding underestimated for years

Friday, 12 June 2015

Prisons minister Andrew Selous has admitted that statistics on prison overcrowding in England and Wales have been understated for six years because some prisons were counting doubled-up cells incorrectly, reports The Guardian.

He made the admission in a statement to the House of Commons on Thurday. He apologised for incorrect public statements made by the Ministry of Justice, including to MPs, on the basis of the incorrect figures.

The errors occurred when prisons counted instances where two prisoners sharing a cell designed for one as only one prisoner rather than both being in overcrowded accommodation. Similar mistakes were made when three prisoners were sharing a cell designed for only two occupants.

Figures for 2013/14 now show that the proportion of prisoners occupying doubled-up cells is 24.5 per cent rather than the originally stated figure of 21.9 per cent.