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Operation Safeguard Activated: Government’s Crisis Response to Prison Overcrowding Amidst Disturbing Conditions at Wandsworth

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Operation Safeguard: Authorities implement emergency action in response to prison overcrowding

Yesterday, the principal inspector of prisons, Charlie Taylor, sent an 'urgent notification' to the justice secretary concerning Wandsworth Prison after a regulatory body's review highlighted several issues.

By Mollie Malone – Domestic News Reporter

Friday, May 10, 2024 09:01

The government has initiated an emergency action to address the issue of prison overcrowding.

'Operation Safeguard' enables the placement of offenders in police cells when prisons reach capacity.

The authorities state that this action is not without precedent and is, in fact, an intentional aspect of the system. It has been implemented in recent months and was also employed the previous year.

This comes after yet another expansion of the End of Custody Supervised License Scheme, a temporary provision that permits the early release of inmates before their sentences conclude, in an effort to alleviate overcrowding.

Initially declared by the justice secretary in October, the policy allowed for inmates to be released up to 18 days prior to the completion of their sentences. This has since been revised, and as of May 23, specific prisoners can now be released up to 70 days before their scheduled release date.

The activation of Operation Safeguard is a further indication that prisons are facing strain.

Yesterday, Charlie Taylor, the chief inspector of prisons, sent an urgent notification to the justice secretary regarding Wandsworth Prison after the watchdog identified several issues during a recent inspection.

The inspection revealed critical issues such as excessive crowding, pests, narcotics, aggression, and an increase in self-inflicted injuries at the Category B prison located in southwest London.

The review revealed that 80% of the inmates were housed in cells intended for a single occupant, with the majority confined for over 22 hours daily. Additionally, inmates in a particular section were unable to bathe for five consecutive days.

Wandsworth holds the title of being the second largest prison in England, yet it shares the common issue of overcrowding with many other facilities.

Further details on Sky News: Individual responsible for performing castrations imprisoned. Expectant mothers and recent moms could receive shorter sentences. Inmates might be released sooner due to excessive prison population.

Stay updated on the most recent developments both in the UK and globally by following Sky News.

Data released earlier this month indicates that there are currently 87,505 individuals incarcerated in England and Wales.

The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) estimates that the capacity for "safe and decent accommodation" in prisons, referred to as "certified normal accommodation" or "uncrowded capacity," accommodates 79,507 individuals.

This indicates that the existing system is operating at 110% capacity, signifying that it is beyond its full capacity.

Stay ahead with the latest breaking news updates.

Download the Sky News application at no cost

A spokesperson from the Ministry of Justice commented on the activation of Operation Safeguard, stating: "This measure is aiding us in addressing the severe overcrowding issues partly due to the strike by barristers and the residual effects of the pandemic. Concurrently, we are moving forward with the largest increase in prison capacity in a hundred years, which includes the construction of six new prisons."

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