Suspected criminals on remand hit highest numbers in half a century | The Sun

MORE than one in six of the prison population are people awaiting their own trials without yet being found guilty – a damning report from MPs warns.

The numbers have soared 44 per cent from 10,000 in March 2020, to 14,500 just a year and a half later in September 2022, heaping yet more pressure on the creaking justice system.

Thousands are now waiting longer than the six month time limit thanks to spiralling court delays – and cautious judges choosing to lock more people up instead.

Hundreds are now being held for more than two years before they face trial.

They are being held in some of the "worst conditions in the prison estate" and have little help while they are inside, the report found.

Electronic tagging, limiting contact with victims and curfews, should be used instead for lower risk offenders to push down the numbers, they say.

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The soaring numbers have forced ministers to invoke Operation Safeguard to open up hundreds of police cells instead as cells are all full up.

Chair of the Justice Committee, Sir Bob Neill said the growing remand population was a "serious concern".

He added: "Too often it is being used as an easy option in cases of low-level repeat offending or social problems, with little thought for the lasting consequences this can have on the individual.

"In many cases there are better alternatives, including electronic tagging or conditional bail."

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It came as a prison for high-risk sex offenders was found to be letting out wrong-uns without proper plans in place.

One in five were leaving HMP Isle of Weight without anywhere to live – putting them at a higher risk of reoffending.

According to a review from HM Inspectorate of Prisons, standards have slipped, staff shortages were rife and hundreds were leaving jail without the right paperwork.

A staggering third of all officer posts were vacant, leaving prisoners just two hours to spend out of their cells a day.

Just 30 had completed an offending behaviour programme for those convicted of sick sexual offences.

Charlie Taylor, Chief Inspector of Prisons, said the findings were "frightening" and the prison was "failing" to prepare prisoners for their release.

They said: "Too many men we know pose a risk of harm to the public are being released without a sustainable place to live and without proper planning around protecting victims of their crimes and often inadequate contact with local probation services."

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