Ulster Unionist MP, Lady Hermon, has strongly criticised the Government for continuing to permit prison transfers from Northern Ireland to England where prisons are already operating above capacity. The North Down MP said:
“The Government’s approach to the prison crisis is so absurd it beggars belief. During each of the last twelve months in England and Wales, prisoners have had to be housed in police cells, because prisons are full. Despite these staggering statistics showing police cells used on thousands of occasions, the Government continues to permit prisoner transfers from Northern Ireland to English prisons.
As if this were not enough, any prisoners transferred to England and Wales are eligible for early release under the End of Custody Licence scheme, a scheme introduced to let prisoners out early solely because of prison overcrowding. So, a prisoner in a Northern Ireland prison, where the scheme does not operate, is able to be transferred to an English prison, add to the overcrowding there and then get out early, just because of the overcrowding. It’s high time the Government closed these loopholes and kept the gates shut until they get control of the prison crisis.”
December 10th, 2007