LATEST statistics have revealed that both of Warrington’s prisons are at risk of overcrowding amid bulging populations.

Figures from the Ministry of Justice have shown that the capacity of Risley prison is higher than the number of accommodation available, meaning prisoners may have to share cells.

The official capacity of the Warrington Road facility is around 1,000, with the population also around this number.

The situation is similar at HMP Thorn Cross, which has a capacity of 430, which is full according to the data.

It was revealed earlier this month that plans had been shelved to retain dozens of temporary jail cells at the Appleton Thorn prison.

Plans were submitted to Warrington Borough Council for the permanent retention of 44 temporary accommodation units at the prison and young offender institution.

The units were originally constructed in May 2020 to effectively respond to the impacts of Covid-19, intended for a temporary period of six months.

However, proposals to make the units at the Arley Road site a permanent fixture have been withdrawn.

Rising prison populations have also hit national headlines after the Government revealed earlier this month that prisoners in England and Wales could be released more than a month early to tackle overcrowding.

HM Prison Risley

HM Prison Risley

An extension to the end of custody supervised licence scheme will take it from 18 days to a maximum of 60 days in a bid to ease the pressure on prisons.

This move was described as ‘the most drastic form of early release’ by Labour.

Prisons charity the Howard League has stated that the prison estate should not hold more than 79,597 people, but Ministry of Justice figures revealed that the national capacity is over 88,900.

Justice Secretary Alex Chalk blamed the overcrowding on a mix of factors, including criminals serving longer sentences under tougher punishment laws and the refusal to follow other countries’ lead by during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Conservative UK Government has insisted the measure will be temporary and only apply to so-called “low-level offenders”, but it has refused to set a deadline for measures to end.

According to Mr Chalk, there are more than 10,000 foreign criminals in the prison system, making up 12 per cent of prisoners in England and Wales and costing the taxpayer on average £50,000 per year.

He added that almost 400 foreign national offenders have already been removed from the UK since January.

This is through a ‘robust new agreement with Albania’, with plans in the Criminal Justice Bill to rent prisons overseas.