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Arrest fewer people to save prison space, police chiefs said

Police are being asked to make fewer arrests due to a lack of prison space, The Times can reveal.

Police chiefs are being advised to consider suspending “non-priority arrests” and also suspending operations that may lead to “large numbers of arrests”, until there is sufficient capacity in prisons in England and Wales.

The measures, which emerged from an internal document drawn up by the National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC), are the latest consequence of the prison overcrowding crisis.

The prison population increased by 5,200 in the year to June 2023 due to the continued impact of the Covid pandemic, the lawyers’ strike and stricter sentencing laws. The increase has exceeded the increase in the capacity of the cells.

Advice to the police to escalate