Page last updated at 18:08 GMT, Thursday, 29 January 2009

Prison inmates 'forced to move'

Concerns have been raised about prisoners at a West Midlands jail being moved north to make room for inmates from the South East of England.

The Independent Monitoring Board for HMP Birmingham, in Winson Green, said overcrowding in jails continued to be a major concern.

The board said moving inmates north caused "disruption to family links and difficulties in resettlement".

The jail said overcrowding was "unfortunately affecting most prisons".

Board chairman John Smith said: "Families find it difficult to visit. The support network which would help to prevent reoffending is removed."

He added there was "just about enough space" in northern jails to take prisoners moved from the West Midlands.

'Enough beds'

Mr Smith said there were about 1,450 prisoners at HMP Birmingham, but about 600 of these could not be provided for in terms of training, education and work.

He said: "There are enough beds. We're not at present using police cells in the West Midlands for our overflow.

"But the over-population concerns come from having so many people who you can't provide courses for."

He added that there had not been as many transferred to the north recently.

James Shanley, governor of HMP Birmingham, said: "Overcrowding is unfortunately affecting most prisons in some form or another at present."

He added: "This means that some West Midlands prisoners end up further from home than we would like.

"It would be the responsibility of the receiving prison to try and move the prisoner closer to his home for family links and resettlement purposes."



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