Sunday, 3 Mar 2024

UK may rent prison spaces abroad to prevent overcrowding

The government plans to rent jail space from foreign countries in new plans to help the UK’s overstretched prison system.

The justice secretary said in his keynote speech at the Conservative Party conference that further measures need to be taken to ensure ‘dangerous criminals continue to see the inside of a prison cell’.

Alex Chalk told attendees in Manchester yesterday: ‘This government is doing more than any since the Victorian era to expand prison capacity.

‘Alongside our extra 20,000 prison places programme, refurbishment of old prisons and rapid deployment cells, renting prison places in other countries will ensure that we always have the space to keep the public safe from the most dangerous offenders.’

He added the government intends to look ‘at the Norwegian example and explore renting overseas capacity’.

Mr Chalk hopes to bring forward legislation as soon as parliamentary time allows, but revealed no further details about how this would work.

Prisons minister Damian Hinds added: ‘Public protection is our top priority which is why we are rightly locking up the most dangerous offenders for longer. To do that, we must continue to ensure we have sufficient prison places.

‘Renting space in foreign prisons is an established practice in other nations, and proves that only the Conservatives are committed to taking the tough action to make our streets safer.’

The proposals would see mutually beneficial agreements to house prisoners offshore.

But the facilities and rehabilitation methods would need to match British standards to be confirmed.

According to the latest figures on September 29, there are currently 88,561 prisoners in the UK estate.

Britain’s prison population has grown substantially over the last three years.

Fears have recently been raised about the violence and abuse faced by prison staff at the country’s first ‘super jail’ in Northamptonshire.

Shadow justice secretary Shabana Mahmood said: ‘There’s no greater symbol of the way in which the Tories have run our criminal justice system into the ground than the fact they are “exploring” putting prisoners in foreign jails because they are incapable of building the prisons places this country needs to keep our people safe.’

The next general election must be held no later than January 28, 2025.

The justice secretary also used his speech yesterday to announce the implementation of ‘Jade’s Law’ – which means parents and guardians found guilty of murdering their partner will have their parental rights taken away.

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