WE ARE A MAGAZINE ABOUT LAW AND JUSTICE | AND THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE TWO
April 14 2024
WE ARE A MAGAZINE ABOUT LAW AND JUSTICE | AND THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE TWO
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Government announces plans to hold UK offenders in overseas prisons

Government announces plans to hold UK offenders in overseas prisons

The government has announced plans to rent prison spaces in foreign countries to increase capacity within the prison estate.

According to a statement from the Ministry of Justice, released after the plans were announced by Justice Minister Alex Chalk at the Conservative Party Conference, this will be legislated upon as soon as parliamentary time allows.

The statement continues that UK prisoners will only be moved to facilities that ‘meet British standards’.

This follows a series of announcements about increases to the prison capacity in England and Wales. The MoJ is building six new prisons – although these have been hit by delays –  and has instructed many prisons to move to double occupancy of cells previously used for only one detainee.

The announcement has been met with both criticism and scepticism. Pia Sinha, chief executive of the Prison Reform Trust, described the plan as ‘half baked’ and said that prison leaders will be ‘in despair’ at this superficial response to their very real concerns.

Andrea Coomber KC, Chief Executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform, said: ‘This is a national embarrassment and one that should come to symbolise the misguidance and misdirection characterising prisons policy in England and Wales for decades.’

The announcement has also raised practical concerns about the viability of housing prisoners overseas, including the challenges around family visits, access to legal advice, language barriers, transportation and cost. Solicitor and commentator Joshua Rozenberg has raised the issue of rehabilitation and education, writing: ‘how can prison staff provide education or support to prisoners if they cannot even speak to them?’.

Former head of the Parole Board, Nick Hardwick, wrote on X that the plan was ‘shameful’, and questioned why the UK’s prison population is expanding so fast that this measure, alongside spending £4bn on additional capacity in England and Wales, is necessary.

The current prison population in England and Wales stands at 87,793, the third highest in Europe after Russia and Turkey. Sentences have also increased dramatically under the current government, on average by 57% since 2010.