Fears over safety of staff and inmates as New Hall Prison is running out of cells

After news that Wakefield Prison is running out of cells, figures show that New Hall Prison is also close to capacity, with campaigners warning that the safety of staff and inmates is at risk as the prison population increases.

The latest Ministry of Justice figures show that the prison has capacity for 371 inmates.

Cells in short supply at packed Wakefield Prison
In July, it was operating at 96% of its capacity, with room for just 16 more prisoners.

Campaigners say that the unchecked rise of the prison population is responsible for the huge increase in assaults on staff and other inmates, culminating in the Government taking over HMP Birmingham from its contractor, G4S, after a damning inspection report.

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One of the Government’s first actions was to move hundreds of inmates to other jails, reducing the overcrowding.

In July, New Hall’s population stood at 84% of the Operational Capacity.

Prisons contain a number of one and two-person cells. In overcrowded prisons, more inmates will be put in cells than they were originally designed to hold.

Annual figures, published by the Prison Service in July, show the extent of the problem. From April 2017 to March 2018, 16% of prisoners in New Hall Prison were in overcrowded cells, 62 inmates on average.

There has been a renewed focus on prison policy after the Government took control of HMP Birmingham.

A shocking inspection found inmates used alcohol, drugs and violence with impunity, while the corridors were covered with cockroaches, blood and vomit.

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Across the country, assaults have more than doubled in prisons over the last five years, and cases of self-harm have increased by 93%.

A Prison Service spokesman said: “All prisons in England and Wales are within their operational capacity which means they are safe for inmates.

“Nonetheless, reducing crowding is a central aim of our modernisation of the prison estate.

“That is why we have committed to delivering up to 10,000 new prison places across the country, and only last month announced that two new prisons would be built at Wellingborough and Glen Parva.”