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

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.

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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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