Surge in jail population adds to strain on overstretched prison service

Number of prisoners locked up in England and Wales has risen by 1,200 since May to 86,413 – and numbers are expected to rise further

An unforeseen summer surge in prisoner numbers in England and Wales is adding to the pressures on a jail system that is already “woefully short of spare capacity” and subject to frequent riots that take out cell spaces, a former head of the prison service has warned.

Phil Wheatley, the last director-general of the Prison and Probation Service, has told the Guardian that the rise in prison numbers has “more or less wiped out” the value of a boost in the number of prison officers and prevented the closure of older jails.

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