Reid In Prison Overcrowding Talks

Home Secretary John Reid is due to meet top prison service officials to discuss the acute problem of overcrowding in British jails, it is reported. Mr Reid is meeting with the director general of the Prison Service Phil Wheatley and the chief executive of the National Offender Management Service Helen Edwards, according to BBC Radio Five. They will tell him he should either release some inmates early to free up jail space or, if that idea is rejected, start making use of cells at police stations – a strategy known as Operation Safeguard – the radio station said. It is thought about 500 police cells could be made available, it added. It reports that another option is to deport or to transfer to immigration centres some of the 10,000 foreign prisoners who are being held. Latest figures show the number of prisoners in England and Wales has reached 79,642, with capacity put by the Prison Service as 79,968. The population, already running at record levels, rose by another 357 in the week to September 29. If that trend continues, jails could be full within days.