14,507 people in custody pending trial in England and Wales, MPs say

The number of remand detainees awaiting trial in England and Wales has risen to 14,507, the highest in 50 years and a 44% increase in 18 months, according to a panel of parliamentarians.

Backlogs of trials caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and last year’s barrister strike are responsible for the rising number of remand prisoners.

The Judiciary Commission report states: However, recent years have seen significant increases, and as of September 30, 2022, the daily remand population was 14,507. This represents a 44% increase in the population from 31 March 2020, when he was 10,043. The prison remand population is now the highest in at least 50 years. ”

The new figures also show 770 people have been in prison for two years without trial, a 60% increase from December 2021.

The report said many of those 770 would be acquitted or sentenced to shorter sentences than they spent in remand.

There are currently 60,000 cases awaiting trial, with an average criminal court trial time of 280 days.

“Jail remand is a necessary tool.”

More than half of those remanded have been detained for non-violent crimes, said Sir Bob Neill, Chairman of the Judiciary Commission. Those who are at risk of fleeing will be brought to justice. However, it is too often used as an easy option in cases of low-intensity repeat offenses and social problems, and little consideration is given to the lasting consequences this can have on individuals. ”

Neil, Conservative MP for Bromley and Chislehurst, said: That this happens when an individual has not yet been convicted is a serious step and should not be taken lightly. However, those subject to remand have not been given adequate support to mitigate these effects. ”

Nearly half of all prison suicides in England and Wales in recent years have involved inmates on remand.

In February 2019, Garry Beedle, 36, committed suicide at Durham Prison, days after being remanded for the first time in his life on a relatively minor charge.

In January 2020, 29-year-old Liridon Sariuca hanged himself in his cell at Belmarsh Prison in London. Sariuka was awaiting trial for the murders he had always claimed to be innocent, but in November 2022, an inquest found that authorities had made “gross and multiple negligence.”

According to the inquest, Sariuka was seriously injured in a car accident in 2018 and was suffering from back pain that was aggravated by not having a special mattress.

Charlie Taylor, the prison’s chief inspector, told the commission: In the past. For example, I’ve been to places like Belmarsh. There, almost overnight, many of these services had their rugs pulled. There was real concern that prisoners were being remanded, spent too long in remand, and that the population was growing, but some of the services they might have expected were simply not there. . ”

Remand prisoners who have been in solitary confinement too long

Mr Taylor said: What we often see is that the remanded population is last in the pecking order when it comes to jobs, education, training quotas, etc. Day. “

Peter Dawson, director of the Prison Reform Trust, told the commission that prisons housing remanded prisoners often struggled the most to maintain effective regimes. As a result, there was a lack of meaningful activities for remanded prisoners to engage in.”

Neal said there are often “better alternatives” such as electronic tagging and conditional bail.

The report states: But there is no point in applying too onerous bail conditions. [is] It is unrealistic that defendants can comply with them. ”

The report urged the government to “cooperate with the judiciary on ways to improve the consistency of bail conditions, for example by introducing a framework of guidelines on bail conditions … that they are an effective alternative to remand while in custody.” We assure you that we will provide

The Epoch Times has reached out to the Ministry of Justice for comment.

Chris Summers

Chris Summers is a UK-based journalist with a wide range of national coverage, with a particular interest in crime, police and law.