Daily Express:£700,000 cost of takeaways for prisoners in police cells

Monday, 28 July, 2008

POLICE fork out more per head on takeaway meals for prisoners than the combined sum spent on food for NHS patients and frontline soldiers.

The Ministry of Justice has admitted more than £700,000-ayear is spent on feeding inmates held in police stations because of the lack of places in prisons.

Some £12-a-day is lavished on each convict in police cells, six times as much as the amount spent in jails.

Much of the £12-a-day is known to go on burgers, fried chicken and chips from fast-food chains.

Shocked Tories compared this to the average £8.49p-a-day spent on feeding an NHS patient.

Also, just £2.69p-a-day goes on feeding each soldier serving on the frontline in Afghanistan.

A mere £1.63p is spent daily on each soldier stationed in Britain.

Shadow Police Reform Minister David Ruffley said: "These figures are a disgrace. Once again money that should be spent fighting and reducing crime is being wasted. Taxpayers will be appalled at this profligacy.

"This problem has only arisen because of complete mismanagement of our prison system resulting in severe overcrowding.

"The Government's incompetence means our police are spending more time as prison jailers and less time as crime fighters." Prisoners are being kept in police cells under "Operation Safeguard", brought in to deal with the overcrowding crisis in jails.

In 2006-07, convicted prisoners spent 61,000 days in police cells.

The operation was launched two years ago by the then Home Secretary John Reid when the prison system hit its 80,000 accommodation maximum.

The amount spent on feeding prisoners was disclosed to the Tories after a request in the Commons.

Justice Secretary Jack Straw said in a written answer: "For prisoners held in police cells under Operation Safeguard, the cost is up to a ceiling of £12. The difference arises because food in prison can be planned with much greater certainty and prison establishments are able to make use of bulk purchasing."