Britain is going back to Georgian times again as it uses prison ships.

England & Wales' prisons have become full so the Government has a bit of a crisis on its hand trying to figure out where to put all our new prisoners (why didn't they just build new gaols?) Now the it's thinking about using ships as prisons to house felons.

England/Wales has more prisoners per 100,000 population than most other EU nations. Scotland and Northern Ireland have different legal systems than England and Wales (which both have the same one) so they aren't included.

Eye, eye! ... Home Secretary John Reid
in our mock-up with a telescope

EXCLUSIVE Reid scours seas for ships

Whitehall Editor
October 21, 2006

THE hunt was on last night to find ships suitable for use as prisons.

Home Secretary John Reid began scouring ports for disused ferries and other vessels.

He agreed the move — championed by The Sun — as the prison population in England and Wales hit 79,825 — only 104 short of bursting point.

Mr Reid is also on the lookout for a barge to house asylum seekers while their claims are screened.
He wants to buy or lease craft capable of holding between 200 and 800 inmates offshore.

Britain’s last floating jail, The Weare, berthed in Weymouth, Dorset, was scrapped last year because it was too cramped.

It was the first time a prison ship had been used in Britain for 200 years. The Home Office had been considering releasing thousands of prisoners early because of the cells crisis.

Scrapped ... Prison ship HMP Weare

But now Mr Reid has accepted that ships could provide the solution.

His office confirmed last night that a formal process had begun as he advertised for vessels in the Official Journal of the European Union.

A spokesman said: “We will only decide whether or not to proceed when we know exactly what is available out there.

“The problem in the past has been the lack of ships suitable for conversion.

“But we hope it will see us with extra capacity on floating vessels.” The size of the prison ship fleet will depend on the capacity of the vessels. Mr Reid has also ordered officials to check out disused army and police buildings which could be converted into cells — suggested in another Sun campaign.

A senior Whitehall source said: “The Home Secretary has made it clear he wants to explore innovative solutions.”

Under emergency measures, some crooks are being put in 240 police cells.