The Council of Europe's Committee for the prevention of torture and inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment (CPT) has published the report on its sixth periodic visit to the United Kingdom in November/December 2008, together with the response of the United Kingdom Government.
The CPT expresses concern over the continuing rise in the prison population and the resulting overcrowding, advocating a more "imaginative" approach towards reducing prison numbers. Significantly, the CPT advises against the building of ‘Titan’ prisons.
The report highlights the overcrowding observed by the CPT’s delegation and that too many inmates continue to spend too much time locked in their cells with little access to any meaningful activities.
The CPT recommends that measures be taken to prevent overcrowding becoming a permanent feature of the prison system, and that cells of 7m² should not accommodate more than one prisoner. (Cells of this size at Maghaberry Prison were not designed for the purpose of accomodating two prisoners.)
The report concludes with: "Even with an occupancy level of 95 per cent of the total design capacity of a prison estate, it becomes nigh impossible for a prison service to deliver what is required of it, and more particularly, to ensure respect for inmates' human dignity."