Riots may break out in prisons as the Parole Board reaches breaking point, according to a former senior prison official.
Without extra money, the board would struggle to make decisions on time over releasing prisoners, said Sir David Latham. Formerly chairman of the Parole Board of England and Wales, Latham warned, "the pips are squeaking".
"If you have more people in prison who simply do not know when they are going to be released, then you've got the risk of disaffection, you've got problems of management," Latham told the BBC. "That has all sorts of consequences, which people like me, who remember the Strangeways riots and so on, will want to avoid if we possibly can."
The situation is set to come under greater pressure as the board, whose main job is to decide when it is safe to release prisoners who have committed serious crimes, is expected to deal with 26,071 cases by April 2013 - almost 4,000 more than the year before.
Sir David also warned that parole board delays would leave the government open to a wave of compensation claims, as prisoners risk being held too long while decisions are made.
"There is an obligation under the European Convention for Human Rights for a person to have his release considered within a proper time limit, and if that time limit is exceeded he is entitled to ask the courts for damages," he said.
A spokesman for the Ministry of Justice said:
"We have managed to maintain the Parole Board's budget for this financial year in the face of significant spending cuts across government. The board's funding is kept under regular review and we will carry on working with it to ensure it is able to meet its responsibilities. The MoJ is also working closely with the Parole Board on ways to minimise the existing backlog of IPP cases."