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Volume 494: debated on Friday 19 June 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many prisoners were in a cell intended for (a) one and (b) two fewer people than were in the cell in 2008-09. (279252)

The average number of prisoners ‘doubled’ (held two for a cell certified for one) during 2008-09 was 19,153. This represented 23.1 per cent. of the population.

The number held three for a cell for two during the same period was 1,186. This represents 1.4 per cent. of the population.

In total, 20,339 prisoners were doubled or held three to a cell for two. This represents 24.6 per cent. of the population.

Figures for prisoners held in dormitory accommodation for one fewer person (nine in a dormitory for eight, for example) and data for prisoners in accommodation for two fewer people are not reported separately. Data for this type of overcrowding will be included in the figure for total overcrowding. The average number of prisoners overcrowded (including doubling and three to a cell for two) during 2008-09 was 20,452, representing 24.7 per cent. of the population. On average, 113 prisoners are overcrowded in conditions other than two to a cell for one and three to a cell for two.

Overcrowding where prisoners are held in cells for two fewer people may consist of four in a cell for two or five in a cell for three or nine in a dormitory for eight. The practice of holding three prisoners in a cell certified for one no longer exists; no prisoners have been held in these conditions since 1994.

Since 1997, the Government have increased prison capacity by over 24,000 places (not all of them new build). The Government increased capacity by over 3,300 places last year, aim to increase it by a further 2,000 this year and are committed to increase net capacity to 96,000 by 2014.