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Overcrowded jails could lead to violence and more crime, watchdog warns

Charlie Taylor said he was ‘really concerned’ about the knock-on effects of prisons in England and Wales getting close to capacity.

Overcrowding in jails could lead to growing levels of violence behind bars and more crime on Britain’s streets, a watchdog has warned.

Chief inspector of prisons Charlie Taylor said he was “really concerned” about the knock-on effects of prisons in England and Wales getting close to capacity.

It comes after campaigners accused the Government of being “significantly behind schedule” in its pledge to build 20,000 more prison places by the mid-2020s amid warnings jails were close to being “full”.

Outlining the findings of his latest report, Mr Taylor said overcrowding and pressures on the population in jails was “emerging as one of the biggest issues in our prisons”.

Six months ago ministers announced up to 400 police cells would be used to hold prisoners overnight when there was not enough space in jails as it enacted a contingency plan known as Operation Safeguard.

At a briefing on Wednesday, Mr Taylor said: “Where prisoners are in very cramped conditions, where they’re not let out of their cells for anything like enough time, of course there is potentially a risk that we may get increasing levels of violence.”

He told reporters public protection was “critical”, adding that if prisoners are not getting the support they need: “The risk is of course as soon as they leave the jail, that they can revert back to their reoffending ways and that simply creates more victims of crime”.

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