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3 Oct 2023

Howard League responds to announcement that ministers are to rent prison cells abroad because of overcrowding crisis in England and Wales

The Howard League for Penal Reform has responded to the announcement that ministers are to rent prison cells abroad in response to the overcrowding crisis in jails in England and Wales.

Andrea Coomber KC (Hon.), Chief Executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform, said: “This is a national embarrassment and one that should come to symbolise the misguidance and misdirection characterising prisons policy in England and Wales for decades.

“Governments of both colours have tried to punish and imprison their way out of answering society’s hardest questions. In truth, the solutions to crime lie outside the criminal justice system – in housing, education, employment and healthcare – but too many politicians have chosen instead to waste finite resources and overcrowd prisons to breaking point.

“The Howard League has not been alone in raising the alarm. Voices from across the criminal justice system have become louder and louder, not least those of people living and working in prison. Now the political response to a prison system on its knees is not to ease pressure on that system, nor to invest in improvements at home, but instead to waste taxpayers’ money on renting prison cells abroad.”

Notes to editors

  1. The Howard League for Penal Reform is the oldest penal reform charity in the world. It is a national charity working for less crime, safer communities and fewer people in prison.
  2. For more information about prison overcrowding, visit the ‘Prison Watch’ page on the Howard League website at:


Rob Preece
Communications Manager
Tel: +44 (0)7714 604955

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