Minister: Prisoner level highest ever

The number of prisoners in New Zealand is at the highest level ever, two weeks after breaking the previous record.

Corrections Minister Judith Collins said today there were 8509 people in prisons or police stations nationwide - 16 higher than the previous peak of 8493 prisoners on September 7.

In 1996/97 the average prison population was about 5000.

"This underlines the urgent need to ensure there are enough beds to accommodate forecast numbers of prisoners," Ms Collins said.

In August the Government announced it would build a container cell block at Rimutaka prison.

Ms Collins said that would now not be enough and said double bunking was also necessary to manage the "serious capacity crisis".

- NZPA

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