England and Wales are continuing to jail offenders at a higher rate than any other major country in western Europe, it emerged today. New research indicates that the government's use of prison as its main tool of penal policy has increased by 15% since 1999.

Despite government attempts to reduce it, England and Wales have a prison population rate of 142 per 100,000, which remains higher than France, Germany, Italy and Greece.
There are 76,000 people in jails in England and Wales, and this does not include immigration detainees. Last week Amnesty International estimated that 25,000 asylum seekers were locked up last year in the UK.

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