This said, we were told quite a lot in the news near the end of last year that the prisons were bursting and we were going to have to start using custody cells in Police stations which could handle the brief extra-capacity before
Now at the time we were told this, one would assume that someone, somewhere, in the Home Office, had the figures to hand and thus knew how many cells were available in Police custody suites, in order to make such statements. However, in a written answer by Tony McNulty, it appears that that information isn't "held centrally" and will have the classic "disproportionate cost" to retrieve.
This response can surely only mean one of two things. Either, the statements by the Home Office that there was sufficient capacity in Police cells was based on no evidence whatsoever (if it wasn't McNulty could answer the question), or Tony McNulty is avoiding answering the question because overcrowding problems are even worse than they were before.
Interestingly, when you look at the figures relating to doubling in prisons since 1997 - where prison cells designed for one are used by two inmates - it certainly seems the whole system is at breaking point. In 1997 the average number of prisoners doubling was 9,498, that figure has risen each year and now stands at 16,986.
I wonder how long it is before McNulty resigns given his foreign prisoner track record and his more current problems? He's clearly utterly incompetent.