Page last updated at 14:14 GMT, Friday, 20 June 2008 15:14 UK

Prison population at record high

Prison door
The prison population has reached a record high

The number of prison inmates in England and Wales has reached a record 83,181, government figures show.

The figure - up 10 from last week - is just 29 places below the "operational" maximum capacity of 83,210.

A further 64 prisoners are being held in police cells, making a total of 83,245 in custody.

The prison population has risen dramatically since the end of 2007, exceeding 83,000 for the first time last week.

In February, Justice Secretary Jack Straw called on magistrates courts to use more community punishments.

The government has promised to provide 2,500 extra places in 2008.

The "operational" capacity of prisons is defined as the number of prisoners they can safely hold.

The figure can vary from week to week as some cells may not be in a suitable condition to hold prisoners.

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