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Prisons set to be full by Easter – after plans to release offenders up to two months early revealed

The prime minister’s spokesperson has indicated that prisons are set to be full by Easter.

It comes as the Justice Secretary Alex Chalk announced measures in a House of Commons speech that will target reductions in the number of foreign national offenders (FNOs) in UK prisons.

There are around 10,000 such offenders in the prison system at the moment.

Mr Chalk said the government will “radically change” the way it deals with FNOs to free up space in prisons – including allowing some prisoners to be released from prison up to two months early.

The extension to the end of custody supervised licence (ECSL) scheme, announced on Monday, would take it from 18 days to a maximum of 60 days to try and ease overcrowding pressures in jails in England and Wales.

The government has insisted this measure would be temporary, but Sky News previously disclosed leaked documents which reveal intentions for it to last for an “undefined” period. It was “updated” and “revised” to apply in new prisons, building on the 21 where the scheme was initially launched.

Mr Chalk told the Commons today: “I can tell the House that we will radically change the way that FNO cases are processed. We have created a new task force across the Home Office and Ministry of Justice, including the Prison Service, immigration enforcement, and asylum and modern slavery teams.

“We have surged 400 additional caseworkers to prioritise these cases. They will be in place by the end of March, and we will streamline the end-to-end removal process.

“Second, we are expanding the number of FNOs we can remove, for example by bringing forward legislation to allow us to remove foreign offenders with limited leave to remain under conditional caution.”

The Justice Secretary said this work was building on reforms he set out in October, including extending the early removal scheme from a maximum period of 12 months to 18 months “so that eligible FNOs can be deported up to six months earlier”.

Mr Chalk said almost 400 FNOs have already been removed from the UK as a result, adding that a “robust new agreement with Albania” and plans in the Criminal Justice Bill to rent prisons overseas would also help.

Sky News Source