Doncaster prison is one of most overcrowded in country

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SOUTH Yorkshire’s HMP Doncaster is one of the most overcrowded prisons in Britain, a new report reveals.

The jail was built to hold 743 people - but now holds 1,142, according to the Prison Reform Trust.

The figures make it the 10th most overcrowded out of 131 prisons in the country, holding 154 per cent of its intended capacity.

The Prison Reform Trust said there are 7,294 more people in the country’s prisons than they are designed and built to hold.

Although the growth in the prison population has slowed in recent months, 77 of the country’s 131 establishments hold more people than the Prison Service’s certified normal accommodation, the organisation said.

And they said breaching ‘the good, decent standard of accommodation that the service aspires to provide all prisoners’ is linked to high re-offending rates.

A spokesman said: “For people in prison themselves, overcrowding has a tangible impact. Figures for 2010/11 show nearly a quarter of people in prison are being held in overcrowded accommodation, either doubling up in cells designed for one occupant or being held three to a cell in cells designed for two people.

“Private prisons have held a higher percentage of their prisoners in overcrowded accommodation than public sector prisons every year for the 13 years to 2010/11.

“Overcrowding makes it much harder for staff to work intensively with offenders on resettlement.

“Currently 47 per cent of adults reoffend within a year of leaving prison, rising to almost 57 per cent for those who had served a sentence of less than 12 months.

“Nearly 70 per cent of children released from custody reoffend within a year.”

A Prison Service spokeswoman said: “All our prisons provide acceptable levels of accommodation for prisoners, although some prisons hold more people than they were originally designed for.

“We are aiming to reduce the existence of crowding alongside reducing the cost of the prison estate.”

On August 17 this year, the national prison population was 86,801.

The same time last year, it was 86,233, and five years ago it was 80,762. The average population in custody during 2002 was 70,860.

Juliet Lyon, director of the Prison Reform Trust, said: “Building our way out of the overcrowding problem is not the answer.

“The prison population can be safely reduced by curbing inflation in sentencing, calling a halt to any unnecessary use of custodial remand, dealing with addictions and investing in effective community penalties.”