The claim: Frances Crook, chief executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform, tweeted this week: “Wales is becoming the Botany Bay of 21st century. England shoving its urban poor onto the hulks & shipping them off to Wales.” It follows the UK government announcement of plans to build a new prison in south Wales.
Reality Check verdict: In March of this year, figures show more Welsh prisoners were held in England than English prisoners in Wales. But if you look at plans to expand prison capacity in Wales this could be reversed in future.
The most up-to-date figures I could get my hands on show there were 4,787 Welsh prisoners in March 2017. By Welsh prisoner I mean the prisoner gave an address in Wales.
1,970 of these prisoners were serving their sentence in England.
By comparison, there were 714 English prisoners (home address in England) in Welsh jails.
So, if you look at it in terms of the export and import of prisoners between Wales and England, there was a net export of 1,256 prisoners from Wales to England. Hardly Botany Bay, where Britain set up a penal colony in the 18th century.
Before we go on, it’s worth noting that prisons are not devolved, so Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service operates across England and Wales.
This means that, in theory, all the prisons could be in Wales, or indeed, in England. It’s one administrative area.
It also means that prisoners are not usually classified as English…