‘Warm place to stay in winter!’ as homeless people commit crime for prison place

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Dr Phillip Lee, who resigned as a Justice minister over Brexit from Theresa May’s government and later left the Tories to join the Lib Dems, was reacting to extraordinary figures which showed that last year there were 36,226 people in prison who were designated as “homeless or with housing problems.” The information came in answer to a question from Shipley Conservative MP Philip Davies to Dominc Raab’s Ministry of Justice (MoJ) on how many prisoners suffered from a range of mental health and social problems.

The answer by current justice minister Victoria Atkins concerned the number of people in prison on June 30 last year.

It showed that 34,705 men and 1,521 women in jail had “housing issues or were homeless” while 40,614 men and 1,841 had relationship problems.

Dr Lee, who now works as a GP again as well as a political consultant after failing to win the Wokingham seat for the Lib Dems in 2019, said that the problem of homeless people trying to go to prison in the winter was even more acute.

He said: “Prison is a relatively safe and warm place, especially for the winter. It’s well known some people commit crimes to have winter inside.”

According to the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) statistics, two of the biggest social problems for people jailed for crimes were substance abuse (drug taking or alcoholism) with 31,267 mean and 1,341 women, and financial difficulties which impacted 35,680 men and 1,299 women in prison.

The figures also revealed that 47,050 of the 55,564 men suffering from the problems had two or more registered issues while 1,973 of the 2,090 women registers had two or more problems.

Issues included mental health, learning disabilities, physical disabilities, unemployment history, social isolation and physical or psychological trauma.

Mr Davies told Express.co.uk he had asked the question because of the claims that less women should be jailed because of mental health or social problems.

While a strong supporter of locking up criminals, he pointed out that the the issues statistically were more likely to affect male prisoners.

Men are much more likely to go to prison with the UK’s 121 institutions holding 75,881 men compared to 3,211 women in December last year.

Mr Davies said: “The feminists always say we need a strategy for women offenders because of all those issues without any recognition that there are tens of thousands more male prisoners with the same issues.”


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However, Dr Lee, who as justice minister tried to reform women’s prisons, disagreed.

He said: “Men and women are both affected.

“I strongly suspect, though, that a greater proportion of the female population in prison are affected by social/ emotional/psychological issues.

“At least half of the women should not be in prison. Better to be in purpose-built residential centres closer to family.

“Theresa May’s No 10 would not give me £30 million to get the ball rolling on it all. Incredibly short-sighted and tight decision.”

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