Prison numbers in England and Wales hit new record

Inside Wormwood Scrubs prison
Image caption The prison population in England and Wales went up by more than 1,000 after the riots

The prison population in England and Wales has reached a new record for the third time in three weeks, taking it to an all-time high of 88,115.

There are now only 1,221 places available across prisons to deal with further rises.

The rise in the population has been put down to those being jailed or remanded following England's riots in August.

The Ministry of Justice has insisted there will be enough places for anyone held over the looting and violence.

It said that as of Friday the maximum operational capacity was 89,336 - the level judged to be the safest after taking into account the need to segregate some prisoners.

The MoJ added that no inmates had been placed in police cells under the long-standing Operation Safeguard emergency plans. These plans were last activated in 2007 when spare capacity dropped to around 100 places.

Figures released last month suggested that the riots would contribute to the prison population growing by about 1,000 over the next year.

Juliet Lyon, director of campaign group the Prison Reform Trust, said it was "crunch time" for the government.

"Unless a check can be put on ever-lengthening sentences and the use of prison for people who are mentally ill, addicts and petty offenders, pouring more money down the ineffective prison drain is inevitable," she said.

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