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Prisoner numbers expected to fall as fewer suspects are charged

The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) has said that the number of prisoners in England and Wales is expected to fall in the near future due to fewer people being charged with criminal offences.

Despite initial projections that it was likely to rise in the short term, figures from the MoJ have revealed that it is likely to decrease over the next two years to a low of 81,000 by April 2021.

Last year the MoJ estimated there would be roughly 86,400 people in jail in March 2023, but the latest prediction falls more than 4,000 short of that amount.

This month, the Government announced a review of current sentencing policies including the policy of allowing some prisoners with a fixed sentence to be released on licence midway through their term due to good behaviour, and also look at potentially introducing longer sentences for violent and sexual offences.

An MoJ spokeswoman said: “Our £2.5 billion long-term building programme will provide 10,000 additional prison places, reducing overcrowding and creating a prison estate that is fit for the future. Modern, efficient jails provide us with the stability needed to rehabilitate offenders, preventing future victims and keeping the public safe.”

At the last count, 83,116 people were detained across England and Wales, with 82,905 of those inmates in jails throughout the nations and 211 were currently being detained in HM Prison Service-managed immigration removal centres.

Charlotte Pickles, the director of the Reform think-tank, said: “These lower projections do not green-light the government’s criminal justice reforms. Sixty-two per cent of prisons are currently overcrowded, and we have the highest prison population in Western Europe. The Ministry of Justice is also clear that these predictions are likely to change when the prime minister’s plans for tougher sentences come into effect.”

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Gurjit Singh
As a member of the Criminal Litigation Accreditation Scheme (CLAS), holder of the Higher Rights of Audience (HRA) qualification and duty solicitor for the Coventry area, I regularly represent clients in a wide range of criminal cases, including road traffic offences.

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