The number of inmates held in the Isle of Man Prison has shot up by more than 40% in less than a year.

Prisoner numbers at the facility in Jurby have increased from 90 in April 2023 to the latest figure of 128.

The prison has a total of 141 cells, although the number of cells used to house inmates is lower due to the ‘configuration and management’ of the facility.

Speaking during Tuesday’s sitting of Tynwald, the Minister of Justice and Home Affairs Jane Poole-Wilson, said: ‘The prison has received, on average, a number of 33 new offenders per quarter.

‘The increase is attributed in large part to the proactive work of the Isle of Man Constabulary to tackle the importation and distribution of drugs, aligning with the aim in our Island Plan to keep our island safe.

‘The prison Governor reports on prison numbers daily to the department, which is working closely with the governor to support a number of immediate actions to ensure the prison is able to operate within its expected capacity.

‘I should reiterate that we are and will continue to be a safe place. I welcome the proactive work from the Chief Constable which targets those who want to cause harm in our island to further their own ends.

‘There are consequences to this work, but we have plans in place to address this temporary increase in offender numbers.’

Ms Poole-Wilson also said there were challenges sending UK criminals who had been imprisoned on the island back across the water to serve their sentences.

She said: ‘The prison population in the UK is currently at a severe strain, to the extent that prisoners are now being detained in police custody suites.

‘Our difficulty is whether or not UK prison’s have any capacity to take prisoners who might be eligible for a return away from the island. But it is a matter that we will keep under review.’

Back in July 2023, it was confirmed that the overall cost of running the prison throughout 2022 was £7,448,747, which includes all remuneration, utility costs, food, training, IT, repairs and insurances. The average number of prison officers that were employed throughout 2022 was 81, while these officers were paid a remuneration of £5,418,006 across the board.