Prisoners kept in police station cells ‘all over West Yorkshire’ as jails are full, deputy mayor reveals
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Alison Lowe, West Yorkshire deputy mayor for policing and crime, said the government is paying West Yorkshire Police “tens of thousands of pounds” to help ease the pressure on the prison system.
Wakefield district police headquarters, on Havertop Lane, Normanton, was named as one of the stations being used to house inmates.
Ms Lowe said victims of crime are also being “let down” over a decision to release some prisoners early and to hand out lighter sentences to offenders.
The deputy mayor made the comments at a public meeting in South Kirkby where she heard residents’ concerns over rising crime and a lack of police officers in the town.
Ms Lowe defended officers as she responded to criticism from a member of the public that the police were failing to target repeat offenders.
She said: “A big issue is that all the prisons are full.
“The police are part of a criminal justice system.
“But there is the CPS (Crown Prosecution Service), there is probation, there is the prison bit, there is the court bit, there is the judge bit, and there are lots of other bits in between all that.
“The police do their bit and the next bit lets you down.
“Prisons are at an all time high – there are 90,000 people in prison.
“There aren’t 90,000 places but there are 90,000 people in prisons.
“That means the judges have all been given an order, nationally, by the Ministry of Justice (MoJ).
“I know because I go to London and all these senior places, and they tell us that they have all had a mandate not to send anyone to prison.”
In February, the MoJ described an “unprecedented increase” in the number of offenders coming into prisons in the north of England.
The National Police Chiefs’ Council was given notice to make cells in the north of England and West Midlands available.
In October it was revealed how two-thirds of prisons in England and Wales were officially overcrowded.
Ms Lowe said: “They were even going to release rapists early from their sentence until the public found out and kicked off.
“They have got all these people and they are letting people out 18 days early.
“So burglars, drug dealers, robberies, they are all getting let out 18 days early.
“That is a lot of prison places.
“They are using the (police) cells. So, Havertop and cells all over West Yorkshire.
“The government is paying West Yorkshire Police tens of thousands of pounds to use those cells.
“But people should be in prison.
“They are in our cells in West Yorkshire because all the prison places are full.”