The country is on the verge of its worst prison overcrowding crisis since 2008, leaving the Justice Secretary, Chris Grayling, fighting for his political future.
Mr Grayling has quietly sanctioned emergency measures, after it
emerged that there were only 265 free spaces left out of an 85,800
capacity across the England and Wales prison estate. This is the most
crowded that prisons have been since the coalition took power nearly
four years ago.
To avert the crisis, privately run prisons will be
paid to cram more inmates into their cells. The managers of these 14
private sector prisons include Serco and G4S, the companies at the
centre of a scandal last summer, when the Ministry of Justice was billed
for the monitoring of non-existent electronic tags.