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House of Commons Hansard
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Prison Accommodation
08 March 2010
Volume 507
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To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what estimate he has made of the number of prison cells reckoned as (a) certified normal and (b) operational capacity accommodation in each of the next five years. [317132]

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By the end of 2009 the total useable operational capacity of the prison estate was 85,986.

The Government are currently planning to increase overall net capacity to 96,000 places by 2014. There are two substantial programmes to deliver new places, the Core Capacity Programme and the New Prisons Programme. The Core Capacity Programme aims to deliver 12,500 additional places by 2012 (for which 9,500 places had been announced prior to the Carter Report of December 2007). Places are being provided through the building of new prisons as well as expansions at existing ones and more effective use of the estate. The following table shows the approximate number of additional places currently planned for delivery between 2010 and 2012 under this programme (may be subject to change):

Number of places

2010

3,650

2011

1,400

2012

2,600

In addition, under the New Prisons Programme it is intended to build up to five new prisons with a total of 7,500 places and, as part of this programme it is currently planned to close up to 5,500 worn out, inefficient places in the current estate.

The Ministry of Justice does not hold official estimates for future useable operational capacity. Operational capacity figures will also be affected by the impact of maintenance programmes, which will vary over time. The precise numbers and delivery timings of new prison places will also depend on construction schedules and prioritisation within the prison estate.