Political News Updates

13.05.2014

Police Custody

Sadiq Khan: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice which police station cells were used to keep prisoners in overnight in February and March 2014; and on how many occasions. [197630]

Jeremy Wright: The number of prisoners held overnight in a police cell has come down to below 1,200 in 2013-14, after reaching a peak of over 50,000 in 2007-08.

Prison numbers fluctuate throughout the year and we have sufficient accommodation for the current and expected population. We will always have enough prison places for those sent to us by the courts. There will be more adult male prison capacity in May 2015 than there was at the start of this Parliament.

Police cells, under Operation Safeguard, have not been used since 22 September 2008 and no police cells under Operation Safeguard have been on stand by since the end of October 2008. Court cells have not been used since 28 February 2008 and have been stood down since March 2008.

As part of standard logistical arrangements, there are occasions where prisoners may be temporarily held overnight in police cells. These largely consist of situations where escort contractors are unable to transport the prisoner to a suitable prison following a court appearance, where it would be impossible to transfer a prisoner to a prison in the time available. This is solely for overnight accommodation by the police before collection and onward transmission to the prison establishment the following working day. This is not the same as using Operation Safeguard.

The following table shows the number of prisoners who were temporarily held overnight in police cells in February and March 2014. The totals include adults, young adults (18 to 20-year-olds) and young people (15 to 17-year-olds). In order to identify individual police station locations, it would require a manual check of each record in February and March and this could not be done without incurring disproportionate cost.

2014

Number

February

372

March

175