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Last Updated: Sunday, 25 June 2006, 16:01 GMT 17:01 UK
Prison crowding 'out of control'
Swansea prison
Swansea jail is the most overcrowed prison in Wales
Overcrowding in Wales' five prisons has been criticised after figures showed they are holding too many prisoners.

In May, Swansea Prison was the third most overcrowded in Wales and England, according to the campaign group Howard League for Penal Reform.

Other Welsh jails were also over official capacity. One prison chaplain called the situation "out of control."

But the Home Office said the jails were operating "within a safe margin" that allowed their "proper operation".

The figures show that during May, Swansea jail was holding 424 inmates, despite the accommodation level being 248, meaning it was operating at 171% of its capacity.

During the same period, Usk Prison was the seventh most overcrowded, operating at 159% of capacity. It has space for 150 men but housed 238 men.

Cardiff had 752 inmates, despite having room for only 524.

Parc, near Bridgend, had 1007 prisoners, although its maximum accommodation figure was 839.

Prescoed at Pontypool was the Welsh prison facing the least pressure during May with 169 inmates in a prison designed for 160.

'Safe margin'

In an interview for BBC Wales' Politics Show, Cardiff prison's Anglican chaplain, the Reverend Mark John, described the situation as "out of control".

But he said having the prison system in its present state would force politicians to think about sentencing policy.

The Home Office denied that there was a problem.

In a statement, a spokesperson said: "These prisons are operating above their certified normal accommodation.

"But they are within their operational capacity, meaning that the population is within a safe margin that allows the proper operation of the planned regime".


SEE ALSO
'No spare places' in Welsh jails
20 Oct 05 |  South West Wales

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