Home Secretary John Reid has been accused of panic measures over plans to use prison ships to ease overcrowding in jails in England and Wales.
The government has advertised for contractors to provide up to 800 places on ships.
As I recall, the last time that I recall someone seriously suggesting imprisoning people in old warships—rather than Jack Straw's rather fey armwave—was when Michael Howard popped up to declare it a good idea. I hadn't realised that it had been done.
Britain's last floating prison - HMP Weare moored at Portland Harbour in Dorset - closed last year after the chief inspector of prisoners described the vessel as "unsuitable, expensive and in the wrong place".
I still treasure my copy of the Private Eye—dated 21 February 1997—that was published when Michael Howard (who was, I think, still Home Secretary at the time) did suggest this solution to prison overcrowding; thoughtfully, I have scanned it for you.
Can we scuttle those ships now...?