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26 Oct 2023

The state of prisons in England and Wales

Edward Grange has written an article for Solicitors Journal on the worsening state of prisons in England and Wales and government proposals to outsource inmates to the EU.

The article explores:

Overcrowding and Poor Conditions:
England and Wales’ prisons are experiencing severe overcrowding and understaffing, with some prisoners confined for up to 23 hours a day in outdated Victorian-era cells.

Unfit for purpose:
In its most recent assessment, the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
concluded that prisons in England and Wales were neither functional nor fit for purpose. Indeed, the UK risks breaching of Article 3 European Convention on Human Rights, which prohibits inhumane and degrading treatment. A German court even refused to extradite an Albanian national, whom the UK wanted to stand trial for allegations of drug trafficking and money laundering, based in part on HMP Wandsworth’s dangerous overcrowding.

Controversial Outsourcing Proposals:
Alex Chalk KC this month unveiled a ‘rent a cell’ proposal to house surplus UK prisoners in EU prisons, saying somewhat ironically that it “will require that conditions [in rented foreign prisons] are to the same standard as prisons in England and Wales”. Lord Justice Edis has also announced the sentencing of those convicted but on bail pending sentence should be delayed.

But the UK must go beyond outsourcing to foreign prisons and reducing custodial sentences for lower-risk offenders if it is to improve the conditions of detention for those in prison.

This article was originally published in the Solicitors Journal on the 26th October 2023.

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