SOME local prisoners are being sent out of Essex due to a “population issue” in Chelmsford.

The Weekly News understands that those sent into custody from Southend Magistrates’ Court last week have been travelling to prisons as far away as Bedford.

In a statement the prison service said that there is not an issue with receiving offenders into the facility, but a spokeswoman clarified that offenders are being sent to other facilities as part of a “management of the prison population”, which is a “common” issue.

The Ministry of Justice closed a wing at Chelmsford Prison in January last year.

A statement from the Prison Service said: “We have enough space within our prisons to accommodate all offenders, and imprison those sentenced by the courts, without relying on police or court cells.

"We continue to modernise the prison estate so that it delivers best value for the taxpayer, and are building new house-blocks for 1,260 prisoners across four prisons and a new 2,100-place prison in Wrexham.”