£3m 'to help improve foreign jails'

The British Government is pumping a reported £3 million per year into a fund to help improve prison conditions overseas.

The Ministry of Justice said the Returns and Reintegration Fund (RRF) has three "live projects" under way to better prison conditions in Jamaica and Nigeria.

The fund was created in 2008 with the aim of working with foreign governments to improve the standards of their prisons so more prisoners could be deported from UK jails to serve their sentences in their home country, to effectively save money.

It is also intended to support work to increase the number of prisoner transfer agreements with other countries. Funding is also used to help cut reoffending in a number of countries with high foreign national offender populations in prisons in England and Wales, Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke has previously said.

An annual pot of £3 million has been established by the Government to pay for the projects, according to the Daily Mail.

A Ministry of Justice spokesman said: "Foreign national prisoners should serve their sentences in their home country. We need to make sure these sentences are properly enforced, and work with other governments to share best practice, improve standards and ultimately save the British taxpayer money."

According to Ministry of Justice figures from March 31, the prison population in England and Wales stood at 87,531, of which 74,475 were British nationals, 11,127 were foreign nationals and 1,929 were "nationality not recorded".

A spokesman added: "The MoJ is on the RRF steering board alongside the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Department for International Development, UK Border Agency and provides justice sector expertise.

"The RRF currently has three live projects under way to improve prison conditions in Jamaica and Nigeria. One of the objectives of the Jamaican project is to assist the Jamaican authorities in modernising their prison service and rehabilitation and reintegration activities.

"In Nigeria, one project supports an NGO (non-governmental organisation) to provide human rights training for prison officers in three states. The second project will result in the construction of guards' facilities at a women's prison in Lagos to reduce overcrowding."