Number of prisoners to reach new high

Prisoners in New Zealand are about to reach new highs - the number of people in prison is set to be the highest ever.

Corrections Minister Judith Collins said the previous peak was 8457 prisoners in September 2007.

Yesterday there were 8434 people in prisons or police stations.

"Within the next couple of weeks it's likely that we will have more people behind bars than at any other time in New Zealand's history."

Strong prison population growth began in 2003 and was forecast to rise to around 10,700 by 2016.

There was pressure on the corrections system to find enough beds before it runs out in February, Ms Collins said.

Turning modular or container cells into prisons and double bunking were being used to help manage the "serious capacity crisis" in the short term.

Extending existing prisons and building new prisons were longer term options, Ms Collins said.

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