BRITAIN’S jails are crammed with record numbers of paedophiles and sex offenders, new figures reveal.
More than 9,000 child molesters are currently behind bars – one in eight of the entire prison population.
A total of 13,359 lags are serving sentences for rape and sexual assault, as well as attacks on children.
Ministry of Justice stats show that about one in five – 18 per cent – of those locked up are sex offenders, compared to just 10 per cent less than two decades ago.
Officials say the surge is down to a tougher stance by the courts which are now jailing more offenders rather than hand out softer community sentences.
The number of sex crimes being reported to cops is also at its highest level since 2002.
But the explosion in pervs being locked up is putting a strain on the system, which has a capacity of under 85,000, and some jails are struggling to cope.
'THE PAEDO PALACE'
Tory MP Philip Davies said: “It’s excellent news that more of these sex offenders are behind bars.
“It’s reassuring to know the authorities are doing their job and that dangerous offenders are in prison rather than out on the streets.
“It’s only by locking these people up that we can send out a clear message that we won’t allow them to be risk to the public.”
Eight prisons now house only sex offenders while others are kept apart from other lags in vulnerable prisoner units.
More than 800 are held at Whatton jail in Nottinghamshire , which has earned the nickname “The Paedo Palace” as 70 per cent of lags have committed offences against children.
Police have been told by the government that low-level sex offenders should be handed out conditional cautions instead of jail.
The Ministry of Justice said: “Child sexual exploitation is sickening, and offenders who take or distribute indecent images already face tough penalties.
“The worst perpetrators face 10 years in custody but, where prosecutors agree, some low-risk offenders could also be given cautions with tough conditions attached.
“These can include specific programmes that tackle the causes behind an offenders’ behaviour, thus helping reduce reoffending and keeping the public safe.”
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