Shrewsbury Prison is the second most overcrowded in the country holding almost double the number of inmates it was designed for, it was revealed today.
The category B/C Victorian prison, at The Dana, was built in 1877 to hold 170 men but currently has 326. The shocking statistic came to light in an analysis of prison population figures carried out by the Prison Reform Trust.
Shrewsbury was only narrowly topped in the overcrowding league table by HMP Kennet in Liverpool which was designed for 175 men but currently holds 337.
Swansea Prison came in third worst, holding 436 inmates when it was only designed for 240.
The trust said almost two thirds of prisons in England and Wales were operating at an overcrowded level with 7,294 more people in the system than it was designed to hold.
The reform campaigners said that although the growth in the prison population had slowed down in recent months, there were 77 out of 131 establishments over the Prison Service’s Certified Normal Accommodation as of July 27.
A trust spokesman said: “Figures for 2010/11 show that nearly a quarter of people in prison are being held in overcrowded accommodation, either doubling up in cells designed for one occupant or being held three to a cell in cells designed for two people.
“Private prisons have held a higher percentage of their prisoners in overcrowded accommodation than public sector prisons every year for the 13 years to 2010/11.”
Trust director Juliet Lyon said building more jails was not the answer.
She added: “Rather than falling back on short, ineffective spells behind bars, investment in more intensive community sentences and public health solutions would cut crime and save the taxpayer money.”
No-one was available for comment on the situation on behalf of Shrewsbury Prison.
A Prison Service spokeswoman said: “We are aiming to reduce the existence of crowding alongside reducing the cost of the prison estate.”