Britain's prisons are 'shocking' and 'worse than thought' as emergency plan to come in days, vows Starmer

11 July 2024, 05:16

Keir Starmer says Britain's prisons are worse than he had first thought
Keir Starmer says Britain's prisons are worse than he had first thought. Picture: Alamy

By Natasha Clark

Britain's prisons are "shocking"and even worse than first thought Sir Keir Starmer has admitted, as he prepares to announce an emergency plan in days.

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The prime minister said the true state of jails in England and Wales was even more dire than he thought it would be.

Capacity has been nearly full for months, with ministers forced to extend an early release scheme to ease pressure on the more than 80,000 locked up.

Sir Keir said on the plane to Washington DC for the 75th anniversary NATO summit that he was preparing emergency changes to ease overcrowding.

He told reporters: "Some of what we've found is shocking, not so much about the finances, but I have to say on prisons. The situation is worse than I thought it was. I'm pretty shocked that it's been allowed to get into that situation.

Read more: Prisons minister James Timpson thinks 'only a third of prisoners should be behind bars', as Starmer defends appointment

Read more: Joe Biden calls US and UK 'best of allies' as he meets Prime Minister Keir Starmer at Nato summit

Follow the NATO summit with LBC
Follow the NATO summit with LBC. Picture: LBC

"It's reckless to allow them to get into that place. We'll be saying more about that in short order."

Ministers are weighing up whether to extend the early release scheme even further.

Starmer insisted he did not want to see dangerous criminals get released early after slamming Rishi Sunak for doing so earlier this year.

But he couldn't make guarantees after being made aware of the shocking state of prisons.

LBC's Aggie Chambre on the appointment of James Timpson as prisons minister

Starmer said at his first press conference that he couldn't build new prisons overnight, and Labour has blamed the previous administration for refusing to build more.

He has appointed James Timpson as a prisons minister, who has previously spoken about the need to better rehabilitate offenders.

Mr Timpson believes only a third of offenders definitely need to be behind bars.

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