10/04/2003

Extra funding secures 1000 more prison places

As the prison population lurches to another record level, the Home Office has welcomed the £174 million budget provisions that will add another 1,000 new jail places.

Of the total, £138 million will provide new prison places, including 80 in new Intermittent Custody Centres, giving prisoners the opportunity to maintain links with the community, care for their families and keep their jobs. This will push the England and Wales prison population to over 78,700 by 2006. The extra prison places will be available by the end of 2004 and are in addition to those announced in the Spending Reviews of 2000 and 2002 and last year's budget.

The remaining £36 million over three years will be spent on individual projects including the extension of Home Detention Curfew (HDC).

The Home Secretary, David Blunkett, said: "This additional funding is particularly welcome because it gives us the chance to further improve and expand correctional services. We will increase the support given to prisoners to address offending behaviour and to maintain links with the community that we know keeps re-offending rates down."

The Home Secretary also announced that the maximum period prisoners may spend on HDC is to be increased from three to four and a half months. Only prisoners sentenced to less than four years imprisonment are eligible for HDC.

The scheme, which has seen over 60,000 prisoners complete curfews since its introduction in 1999, not only helps resettle offenders with greater effect but has a positive impact on the prison population – according to the Home Office.

It is anticipated that the extension means that at any one time up to 4,000 prisoners will be on HDC.

(GMcG)

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