Chris Grayling: prison overcrowding due to more sex offenders behind bars
There are almost 700 more sex offenders behind bars than a year ago, Chris Grayling revealed as he sought to explain prison overcrowding.
The justice secretary told MPs that "many" were those found guilty of historic abuse cases.
"There are a number of factors," he told the Commons justice select committee.
"Probably the most visible and obvious one is that over that last year or so ... there's been quite a big increase in the number of sex offenders coming into our prisons, many of them historic sex abuse cases.
"I think it is something like 700 new people in our prisons in that category."
There were 10,498 convicted sex offenders in prison on 31 March 2013 but the number rose by 652 to 11,150 by the same time this year, officials said.
Mr Grayling played down the significance of the overcrowding, insisting he felt it was "not a great problem" if more inmates had to share cells.
Chief inspector of prisons Nick Hardwick has warned of trouble if there is a hot summer and blamed a "political and policy failure" for an increase in suicides and inmates deliberately misbehaving to be sent to punishment blocks to escape cramped conditions.
A "reserve" force of prison officers is being recruited to step in to deal with any surge in numbers over the next few months.
10 July 2014
Chris Grayling: prison overcrowding due to more sex offenders behind bars.. Read more »
30 June 2014
New guidance on how officers should examine rape and sexual offences stresses importance of keeping victims central to investigation. Officers examining serious sexual offences must keep victims at the centre of investigations, new professional policing guidance has stressed... Read more »
07 March 2014
Martin Daubney claims in the Daily Telegraph that "Many dads I know think twice before using family changing rooms or viewing areas at swimming pools"... Read more »