MORE than 60 HMP Hewell prisoners per day are crammed into cells meant for fewer people, new figures allege.

The figures, released by the Howard League for Penal Reform, claim HMP Hewell is one of 80 prisons in England and Wales that suffer from overcrowding.

Hewell - which was placed in special measures last year and been described as 'not fit for the 21st century' - is one of the largest prisons in the country, holding 1,094 inmates.

It stands 59th out of the 80 in the overcrowded list, with an average daily figure of 63 prisoners held in crowded accommodation - which equates to just over five per cent of its population.

Across the country, on a typical day, more than 18,000 prisoners are crammed into cells holding too many people, says the Howard League.

Overall, three in five men’s prisons are holding more people than they are certified to look after.

The worst-affected prison is Wandsworth, in south London, where on a typical day more than 1,100 prisoners are held in cells that are overcrowded.

Other jails with particularly high numbers of prisoners in overcrowded cells include Oakwood (916), Leeds (786), Durham (785), Forest Bank (739), Doncaster (695), Altcourse (686), Thameside (596), Preston (517), Hull (511), Birmingham (484), Pentonville (483), Elmley (447), Cardiff (444), Bullingdon (397) and Exeter (375).

Tardebigge prison Hewell was the venue of an inmates' mutiny in 2017 and has seen a dramatic rise in assaults and self-harm, including a prisoner being charged with manslaughter.

The Howard League says that overcrowding can lead to violence in prisons.

Statistics published by the Ministry of Justice last week revealed that incidents of self-injury and assault in prisons have risen to record levels.

Prisons recorded 57,968 incidents in the 12 months to the end of March 2019 – at a rate of one every nine minutes.

Frances Crook, chief executive of the Howard League, said: “Keeping thousands of men cooped up like battery hens in overcrowded cells is never going to help them to lead crime-free lives on release.

“This is an intolerable situation and, while the numbers have come down slightly in recent years, they remain frighteningly high.

"The figures reveal a clear relationship with overcrowding and violence in prisons.

“This is a challenge for the new Secretary of State for Justice, who now has a chance to build a positive legacy.

"Bold action to reduce the number of people behind bars would not only ease pressure on the prisons; it would save lives, protect staff and prevent crime.”

The Ministry of Justice has been contacted for comment.