FEMALE prisoners at Styal Prison were handed an additional 514 days in total to their sentences for breaking prison rules last year.

Research in a report published by the Howard League for Penal Reform has found that the prison population across the North West were given an average of 3.5 days in addition to their prison sentences.

At Styal, where the figure was reduced from 2015 (1,124), the average prison population of women there of 473 were handed 514 additional days in 2016.

As a whole, the prisoner population of 12,209 in the North West were given 42,919 additional days – more than 117 years taken together.

The league found that prisons were routinely and increasingly, resorting to draconian punishments in a counter-productive attempt to regain control.

Across England and Wales nearly 290,000 additional days of imprisonment were handed down to prisoners during 2016 – a 75 per cent rise in only two years – as jails have been brought to breaking point by overcrowding and staff shortages. The Howard League has calculated that the additional days imposed in 2016 alone will cost the taxpayer about £27million.

The report calls on England and Wales to follow the example set by Scotland, where the use of additional days of imprisonment was scrapped about 10 years ago.

Frances Crook, chief executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform, said: “Prisons are out of control. More people than ever before are losing their lives to suicide, and violence and self-injury are at record levels. The adjudications system has become a monster that is making these problems worse.

“It is surely time to follow the example set in Scotland, where scrapping additional days’ imprisonment has made prisons fairer and safer. There are more constructive ways to deal with misbehaviour than simply locking up people for longer, which puts even more pressure on the system.

“Bold but sensible action to reduce the prison population would save lives and prevent more people being swept into deeper currents of crime, violence and despair.”