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UK ‘has most prisoners on life sentences in all Europe’

BRITAIN has the highest number of criminals serving life in prison in Europe, a report finds.

UK jails held 8,554 inmates on life terms — more than France, Germany and Italy combined — according to an analysis of Council of Europe data from 2016.

Between them, Turkey and the UK accounted for two-thirds of prisoners serving life sentences in Europe.

The findings are detailed in a report by the Prison Reform Trust (PRT).

Its latest Bromley Briefings Prison Factfile includes a section on indeterminate sentences, by Prof Dirk van Zyl Smit and Dr Catherine Appleton of the University of Nottingham.

It said: ‘The UK’s use of indeterminate sentences is plainly out of kilter with the majority of international comparators.’

PRT director Peter Dawson said: ‘A substantial minority of the prison population is serving sentences characterised by an absence of hope and, in many cases, a sense that punishment, though deserved, has ceased to be proportionate or just in its administration.

‘This has profound implications for the way of life prisons provide, if the treatment of those serving the longest sentences is to be both humane and purposeful.’

The PRT said prison safety had deteriorated ‘rapidly’ in the past six years, with more self-harm and assaults ‘than ever before’.

The Ministry of Justice said: ‘Indefinite sentences are reserved for society’s most dangerous criminals — those who commit serious sexual or violent offences like rape and murder and are a high risk to public safety.

‘When indeterminate prisoners have served their tariff they can apply to the independent Parole Board who will consider whether they still represent a threat to society.’