Reduce prison population?

Justice Secretary Liz Truss rejects calls to reduce sentences

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Prison crisis: Overcrowding, lack of staff and higher levels of violence

Prisons in England and Wales are on the verge of being completely full.

The prison population has reached 98% capacity, an increase of 90% over the last two decades: from 45,000 inmates in 1991 to 85,058 inmates in 2016.

The number of inmates in Scottish and Northern Irish prisons has decreased. Justice and policing are devolved matters in both countries. Scotland saw its lowest number of prisoners for a decade with 7,200 inmates, whilst Northern Ireland totalled 1,500 - 300 fewer than the mid-1990s.

The levels of violence are up, with 25,049 reports of assault, whilst staff numbers are down - the ratio of staff to prisoner has reduced from one to 2.9, to one to 5.3 in recent years.

A record number of prisoners have committed suicide in 2016. The Ministry of Justice said there were 119 cases of suicide, and 37,784 reports of self-harm.

The Ministry of Justice told the BBC: "The Justice Secretary has been clear that levels of violence and self-harm in our prisons are too high, which is why we are investing an extra £100m annually to boost the front line by 2,500 officers.

"These are long-standing issues which will not be resolved in weeks or months but we are determined to make our prisons places of safety and reform."

A report by the Centre for Mental Health and the Howard League for Penal Reform recommends the justice system "shift from a primarily punitive approach to a culture centred on wellbeing, recovery and rehabilitation".

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