PRISONERS in jails across South Gloucestershire were among those across the South West that were handed almost 90 years of additional time behind bars for breaking rules last year.

The research by the Howard League for Penal Reform showed that 32,829 additional days of imprisonment were handed down to prisoners during 2016.

Among the prisons in South Gloucestershire, Eastwood Park in Falfield, which houses just over 350 prisoners, saw a dramatic rise from 582 additional days being imposed in 2015 to 996 in 2016.

Ashfield, which has roughly 400 inmates, rose from 48 additional days to 145.

Meanwhile, Leyhill Prison, which is the largest prison of the three, with more than 500 prisoners, saw a decline from handing out 36 additional days in 2015, to only nine in 2016.

Across England and Wales, almost 290,000 additional days were handed down in 2016, a 75 per cent increase over two years, which the Howard League estimates cost the taxpayer around £27million.

The Howard League said that the research showed “prisons are routinely and increasingly resorting to draconian punishments in a counter-productive attempt to regain control” and that “disciplinary hearings, known as adjudications, are used overly and inappropriately”.

But the prison service says it has empowered its Governors to have full responsibility with rule breakers in prison, meaning “that those who know the prisoners and the establishments best, are able to make informed decisions on how best to deal with incidents”.

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.”

A Prison Service spokesman said: “The prison discipline system upholds justice in prisons, ensures actions have consequences and empowers Governors to make the right judgements for their circumstances and their prisons.

“The vast majority of offenders leave prison without serving a single additional day. But the public and our hardworking staff rightly expect that those prisoners who choose to break the rules, making life more difficult for staff and other offenders or putting their safety at risk, should face the consequences.

“Where this amounts to a criminal offence, prisoners will be referred to the police.”