Portable Buildings Will Be Used To Ease Prison Overcrowding

Modular Portable Buildings for Truckstop Facilities - Cabinlocator Ltd

The UK government is set to announce that up to 1,000 new prison places will be created through the use of portable buildings to create ‘rapid deployment cells.’ The Guardian reports that the justice secretary, Alex Chalk, will reveal the plans in an effort to tackle the prison overcrowding crisis.

Prefabricated buildings have already been installed for use as cells earlier this year to boost capacity at HMP Norwich, plus up to 18 other sites around the country. The cells have a lifespan of about 15 years and are secure enough to accommodate dangerous offenders.

The modular buildings can be installed in a short time frame with minimal disruption to the daily operations of the site. Costs are low when compared to constructing traditional bricks and mortar buildings and the units can be easily transferred between different sites. They are energy efficient and have low running costs.

The prison system in the UK is under severe pressure, with fewer than 600 places left on the entire prison estate.

The former justice secretary, David Gauke, told The Times newspaper that short sentences of under six months should be banned to help ease the overcrowding. He also said that the government should try harder to deport foreign criminals and that there should be more focus on community work as an alternative to custodial sentences.

A ministry spokesperson said: “We are categorical that the most serious offenders should be sent to prison and that anyone deemed a risk to public safety is remanded in custody while awaiting trial. Reports to the contrary are false.”

“This government has done more than ever before to protect the public and keep sex offenders locked up for longer, ending automatic halfway release for rapists and serious violent offenders and sending rapists to prison for three years longer than in 2010.”

“Following the pandemic and barristers’ strike, the criminal justice system has seen a significant spike in the prison population, with 6,000 more prisoners on remand than before the pandemic.”

According to The Guardian, the current prison population is 88,016, which represents an increase of almost 10,000 compared to two years ago. The sentencing of some of the most serious convicted offenders is currently on hold due to the severe lack of capacity in the prison system.

A MoJ spokesperson said: “While we are carrying out the biggest prison-building programme since the Victoria era, and have taken decisive action to expand capacity further by doubling up cells in the short-term, the prison estate remains under pressure.”

“The lord chancellor met criminal justice partners this week and will be setting out a programme of reform in the coming days to ensure that we can continue to strengthen public protection by locking up the most dangerous criminals.”

Officials are aiming to add up to 2.600 extra spaces by the end of the year through a combination of rapid deployment systems, early release schemes, and moving the lowest risk offenders to open plan prisons.

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