Over 38,000 prisoners sent to prison last year but never convicted
The Ministry of Justice has revealed that over 38,000 prisoners were sent to prison last year on remand – and then never convicted. These figures were published in response to a question by Jeremy Beecham. Eleanor Sheerin reports
The Labour Shadow Justice Minister said that the Government needed to ‘reduce significantly the number of prisoners on remand pending trial, a significant proportion of whom will be found not guilty or, if guilty, receive light, often non-custodial sentences‘.
The figures did not include those prisoners who receive non-custodial sentences after being in prison before their trial. Justice Minister Lord Keen of Elie revealed that 32,238 people dealt with by a magistrates’ court were held on remand in 2016 and never convicted – including cases where a trial never even took place. At the Crown Court, 6,524 people were held on remand but never convicted.
Lord Beecham told the House of Lords that the number of prisoners on remand was contributing to overcrowding in the prisons system, leading to the UK now having the highest incarceration rate in western Europe. The number of prison officers have also fallen – by more than 25% – meaning that the ratio of prisoners to staff is insufficient. Assaults on staff have risen by 88% in the last two years, according to the Chief Inspector of Prisons.
The consequences of this, Lord Beecham concluded, ‘include the highest number of deaths among prisoners on record in the year to March 2017′.
This article was published on September 22, 2017
Eleanor is an aspiring barrister and currently a legal intern with Global Rights Compliance, an organisation committed to enhancing compliance with international human rights standards