Wymott prisoners suffer as cells are over-crowded

Wymott Prison in Ulnes Walton
Wymott Prison in Ulnes Walton

Wymott prison in Leyland is one of 64 training prisons across the country which is over-crowded with inmates.

New figures reveal that three in four men’s jails are holding more people than they are designed for.

“Caging men in squalor with nothing to do all day is never going to help them become law-abiding citizens on release”

Frances Crook, chief executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform

New data from the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) shows how prisons have been forced to cram more people into cells as prisoner numbers have grown and jails have closed.

At Wymott, which is designed to hold 1,102 men, there were 1,151 in January, meaning it is operating at a capacity of 104 per cent.

In contrast, neighbouring Garth has 16 fewer prisoners than it is capable of holding.

Preston is operating at a capacity of 158 per cent, holding an extra 249 prisoners than it is designed for.

The problem is most acute in training prisons for men.

Increased over-crowding has coincided with deep staff cuts and a rise in the number of suicides, self-harm incidents and violent attacks behind bars, the report from the Howard League for Penal Reform warns.

And further MoJ figures reveal the extent to which prisoners were ‘doubled-up’ or ‘trebled-up’ in cells to make more room.

‘Doubling’ is the term used by the MoJ to describe holding two people in a cell designed for one, and ‘trebling’ refers to the practice of holding three people in a cell meant for two.

Data shows that, on a typical day, almost 19,000 prisoners were doubled-up and about 800 were trebled-up.

Frances Crook, chief executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform, said: “Caging men in squalor with nothing to do all day is never going to help them become law-abiding citizens on release.

“Far too many people are being sent into already overcrowded jails.

“Therefore, the need to stem the flow is now absolutely urgent.

“The Government must get a grip on a prison system in crisis that is feeding the crime problem and creating more victims.”

In November, the Guardian reported an inspection at Wymott, where many convicts are sex offenders, found inmates ‘pose significant risks in the community after release’.