politics

Lost prison keys cost the taxpayer whopping £1.3million over past decade, figures reveal


LOST prison keys have cost the taxpayer a whopping £1.3million over the past decade, alarming stats reveal.

Jail bosses spent nearly £350,000 on replacing keys and locks last year alone, official figures show.

David Lammy said: 'We knew this incompetent government has lost control of prisons'

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David Lammy said: ‘We knew this incompetent government has lost control of prisons’Credit: Alamy Live News

Labour said the worrying security breaches show that prisoners are running amok in England’s jails.

David Lammy, Labour’s Shadow Justice Secretary, said: “We knew this incompetent government has lost control of prisons.

“Now it turns out they have literally thrown away the keys – and it is the taxpayer who is picking up the bill.”

Between April 2019 and April 2020, taxpayers were stung with a £344,456 bill to replace keys and locks in state-run prisons, Ministry of Justice numbers show.

The year before no money had been spent on them.

But between April 2017 and 2018 an eye-watering £441,649 was spent on replacing keys.

Prisons Minister Lucy Frazer revealed the numbers in answer to a parliamentary question from Mr Lammy.

She furiously hit back at any suggestion England’s prisons are out of control.

She said: “Security is paramount within prisons and it is important that the risk of any potential key compromise is addressed as quickly as possible in order to protect the public.

“When a key or lock incident is reported an immediate investigation is undertaken to assess the risk and unless it is clear that security has not been compromised, locking mechanisms and keys will be replaced and/or other necessary remedial action will be taken.

Lucy Frazer said: 'It is important that the risk of any potential key compromise is addressed as quickly as possible in order to protect the public'

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Lucy Frazer said: ‘It is important that the risk of any potential key compromise is addressed as quickly as possible in order to protect the public’
Ministry of Justice numbers show that between April 2019 and April 2020 taxpayers were stung with a £344,456 bill to replace keys and locks in state-run prisons

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Ministry of Justice numbers show that between April 2019 and April 2020 taxpayers were stung with a £344,456 bill to replace keys and locks in state-run prisonsCredit: Alamy

“The cost of a relock will depend upon the size of the prison establishment and on which keys have been lost or compromised.

“If a complete set of keys are lost, a full relock of the prison will be undertaken, whereas if a single key is lost only a partial relock will be needed, incurring a lower cost.”

Privately-run prisons have to pay to replace any lost or stolen keys themselves, she added.

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