This publication provides key statistics relating to offenders who are in prison or under Probation Service supervision. It covers flows into these services (receptions into prison or probation starts) and flows out (discharges from prison or probation terminations) as well as the caseload of both services at specific points in time. Latest figures for the quarter January to March 2013 are provided compared to the same period in 2012 for each topic as well as reference to longer term trends, with the exception of the prison population where more recent data is available (30 June 2013).
The contents of the report will be of interest to the public, government policy makers, the agencies responsible for offender management at both national and local levels, and others who want to understand more about the prison population, probation caseload, licence recalls and returns to custody.
The prison population grew rapidly between 1993 to 2008 – an average of 4 per cent a year. This rapid rise was driven by:
- Increased numbers of people sentenced to immediate custody from 1993 to 2002.
- Increases in the average custodial sentence length and increased use of indeterminate sentences.
- Increase in numbers recalled to prison following breaches of the conditions of licence and these offenders spending longer in prison once recalled.
The rise in the prison population slowed considerably from the summer of 2008 with an average annual increase of 1 per cent (Figure 1.1), until the public disorder seen in UK cities from 6 to 9 August 2011 which had an immediate impact on the prison population.
The flatter trend prior to the disorder partly reflected the introduction of the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act (CJIA) 2008, which changed sentencing and offender management in ways which helped to reduce growth in the prison population. For more information, see CJIA 2008.
Other factors, over and above the direct impact of the 2011 public disorder, contributed to an increased prison population for a temporary period which now appears to be over. The falling remand population, and continued decline in the number of under-18s in custody during 2012 and into 2013, mean that the prison population is now tracking between the low and medium projections.
The Story of the Prison Population 1993 to 2012 provides an in-depth examination of what happened to the prison population between 1993 and 2012 and the major factors contributing to the changes in the prison population.
The prison population at 30 June 2013 was 83,842, a decrease of 2,206 (3 per cent) compared to 30 June 2012 when the total population was 86,048.
At 30 June 2013, there were:
- 79,989 males in prison - a fall of 2 per cent over the year
- 3,853 females in prison - a fall of 7 per cent over the year
The overall decrease in the total prison population over the last year (30 June 2012 to 30 June 2013) comprised decreases in both the remand and the sentenced segments of the prison population.
The remand population fell by 3 per cent, driven entirely by the fall in the convicted unsentenced population (down 12 per cent), while the untried population rose 1 per cent. However this 1 per cent rise in the untried population was due to a ‘day of the week effect’ – 30 June 2013 was a Sunday, and the remand population on a Sunday is typically higher than on any other day of the week as prisoners continue to enter prison on remand, but no other court hearings take place. If 30 June 2013 had fallen on any other day of the week, it is likely the year on year change would instead have been around a 1 per cent fall. A 1 per cent fall would still be a change from recent trends. In recent quarters we have seen much larger falls in the untried population partly reflecting falling volumes going through the courts, and partly reflecting the introduction, in December 2012, of measures restricting the use of remand for offenders who would be unlikely to receive a custodial sentence . It is likely that the full impact of these remand measures has now been realised, contributing to the much flatter trend in the latest quarter.
The sentenced population fell by 2,329, or 3 per cent, over the last year. All age groups saw a fall with adults (age 21+) down 1,082 or 2 per cent; young adults (18-20) down 934 or 16 per cent; and 15-17 year olds down almost a third, falling by 313, to 682. Similar patterns were seen in both the male and female populations.
These trends are consistent with those seen in prison receptions - falling numbers of both males and females entering prison on remand and to serve a sentence.
Within the adult sentenced population, the numbers serving long determinate sentences of 4 years or more continued to rise (up 4 per cent from 23,979 to 24,977), while the numbers serving shorter sentences continued to fall. Almost a third of the increase in the numbers serving long determinate sentences was due to the introduction of the new Extended Determinate Sentence (EDS) (see paragraph below) - 300 offenders were serving such a sentence as at 30 June 2013.
The number of prisoners serving indeterminate sentences (either a life sentence or an Indeterminate Sentence for Public Protection – an IPP) fell by four per cent to 13,186 with the IPP and life sentence populations falling by 8 per cent and 1 per cent respectively. The fall in the indeterminate sentence population reflects the sentencing changes introduced in December 2012 which abolished the IPP (IPPs can now only be imposed in very exceptional circumstances) and introduced the new EDS which is available for offenders that would previously have received an IPP or an extended sentence.
Within the indeterminate sentenced population, 43 per cent were serving an IPP (5,620) while 57 per cent were serving life sentences (7,566). A total of 3,549 (63 per cent) IPP prisoners had passed their tariff expiry date. There were 43 offenders serving a whole life sentence as at 30 June 2013. In addition to this, 6 prisoners serving whole life sentences were being treated in secure hospitals.
The number of non-criminals in prison rose by 461, or 40 per cent, to 1,623 at 30 June 2013. The increase in the non-criminal population is a direct result of NOMS agreement with the Home Office to hold a number of immigration detainees in the prison estate. These are not serving prisoners and are therefore classified as non-criminals. There has also been a small increase in the capacity and population of the NOMS operated Immigration Removal Centre (IRC) estate which has also impacted on the overall increase in the number of non-criminals.
The foreign national prisoner population was 10,786 as at 30 June 2013, accounting for 13 per cent of the prison population (the same proportion as in recent quarters). This figure includes Immigration Removal Centres (IRCs). When looking at the population excluding IRCs, 12 per cent were foreign national prisoners (again the same proportion as in recent quarters).
An increasing proportion of sentenced prisoners are serving sentences for the most serious offences. As at 30 June 2013, 27 per cent of the sentenced population had committed violence against the person offences, an increase from 21 per cent in 2000. Similarly, the proportion serving sentences for sexual offences increased from 10 per cent in 2000 to 15 per cent in June 2013. In contrast, the number serving sentences for motoring offences has fallen steadily over time, now comprising 1 per cent of the sentenced population compared with 4 per cent in 2000 and the proportion serving sentences for burglary has fallen from 17 per cent in 2000 to 10 per cent as at 30 June 2013.
In the quarter ending March 2013, there were 26,423 first receptions into prison, a fall of 13 per cent compared to the same period in the previous year.
There was a 13 per cent fall in the number of untried receptions – those remanded in custody awaiting trial – in the quarter ending March 2013 compared to the quarter ending March 2012. Convicted unsentenced receptions – those remanded in custody awaiting sentence – also fell by 13 per cent. The fall in the number of untried receptions was greater for females than males, 24 per cent and 12 per cent respectively, with a similar trend was seen for convicted unsentenced receptions (down 20% and 12% for females and males respectively).
For both types of remand, some of this fall is due to the remand measures introduced in December 2012 restricting the use of remand for offenders who would be unlikely to receive a custodial sentence . This trend is a continuation from previous quarters.
There was a 7 per cent fall in the number of prisoners received under sentence in the quarter ending March 2013 (20,625) compared to the quarter ending March 2012. This fall was driven by falling numbers of sentences of less than 4 years, while longer determinate sentences continued to rise. The largest fall was seen among the shortest sentences (6 months or less) which fell by 12 per cent, while the number of long determinate sentences (4 years or more) was up 16 per cent over the last year.
The rise in numbers received into prison to serve a long determinate sentence partly reflects the impact of sentencing changes introduced in December 2012 which abolished IPPs and introduced the new extended determinate sentence . These changes also resulted in a large fall in the number of offenders entering prison to serve an indeterminate sentence (down 58 per cent).
A total of 19,908 offenders were discharged from determinate sentences in the quarter ending March 2013, a fall of 9 per cent from the quarter ending March 2012.
This fall was driven by falling numbers discharged from sentences of less than 4 years, while numbers released from longer sentences continued to rise. The largest fall was seen among the shortest sentences (6 months or less) which fell by 12 per cent in the quarter ending March 2013 compared to the same quarter in 2012. This is consistent with the falling number of receptions within this sentence band which also fell by 12 per cent over the same period. As prisoners sentenced to 6 months or less spend relatively short periods in custody (1.7 months for those discharged in the current quarter), a fall in prison receptions will impact the volume of discharges very quickly (either in the same quarter or the following quarter).
As well as those discharged from determinate sentences, 80 offenders were discharged from an Indeterminate sentence for Public Protection (IPP), down from 107 in the quarter ending March 2012. A further 77 offenders were discharged from a life sentence, up very slightly from 74 the previous year. In addition, 26 indeterminate sentenced prisoners were removed under the Tariff Expired Removal Scheme (TERS) - this scheme allows indeterminate sentenced foreign national prisoners, who are liable to removal from the UK, to be removed from prison and the country upon, or any date after, the expiry of their tariff without reference to the Parole Board.
Those discharged from determinate sentences in the quarter ending March 2013 had, on average, served 51 per cent of their sentence in custody (including time on remand). On average males served a greater proportion of their sentence in custody – 52 per cent compared to 46 per cent for females in the quarter ending March 2013. This gender difference is consistent over time, and partly reflects the higher proportion of females who are released on Home Detention Curfew (HDC – under which certain offenders can be released on an electronically monitored curfew up to 135 days before the halfway point of their sentence when they would otherwise be released).
A total of 2,643 prisoners were released on HDC in the quarter ending March 2013, a 19 per cent decrease from the quarter ending March 2012. To be considered for release under HDC, an offender must be serving a sentence of less than 4 years and the number of prisoners serving such sentences has been falling (see population section above). The decrease in the population will have a direct impact on the number that can be considered for HDC release and subsequently on the number of prisoners that are released on HDC. Prisoners released on HDC in the quarter ending March 2013 spent an average of 2.9 months on HDC, up slightly from 2.8 months in the quarter ending March 2012.
The total annual probation caseload (court orders and pre and post release supervision) increased by 39 per cent between 2000 and 2008 to 243,434. Since then the probation caseload has fallen year on year, reaching 224,283 at the end of 2012. The rise between 2000 and 2008 was driven by:
Introduction of new court orders, in particular the Suspended Sentence Order (SSO) in 2005 (under the Criminal Justice Act 2003).
Increase in pre and post-release supervision caseload due to:
- continued growth in the number of offenders serving custodial sentences of 12 months or more who require supervision on release from custody,
- offenders spending longer periods on licence after release from custody under CJA 2003.
The number being supervised at the end of 2012 (the caseload) continued the decrease seen in each of the previous four years; community orders fell by 9 per cent and SSOs by 8 per cent compared to 2011. As at the end of March 2013, the caseload fell again – down 5 per cent compared to the end of March 2012.
Looking at the latest quarter, the court order caseload continued to decrease, with the community order caseload down 10 per cent and the SSO caseload down 9 per cent between the quarters ending March 2012 and March 2013. The number of offenders starting court orders also decreased over this period, with starts of community orders down 15 per cent and SSO starts down 7 per cent.
The caseload of offenders supervised before or after release from prison showed no real change over the past year. However, this overall flat trend included a 3 per cent rise in the number supervised post release, which is consistent with the increasing numbers sentenced to long custodial sentences (who will therefore spend longer on licence after release). Starts of pre release supervision fell by 15 per cent between the quarters ending March 2012 and March 2013, broadly consistent with trends in prison receptions where the number of offenders starting prison sentences (excluding adults sentenced to less than 12 months who are not currently supervised on licence after release) also fell over the same period.
The number of requirements started under court orders continued to fall between the quarters ending March 2012 and March 2013, in line with the decrease in the number of court order starts. Much of this decrease was driven by falls in the number of curfew and unpaid work requirements given under both community orders and SSOs. Use of all requirements fell with the exception of drug treatment requirements given as part of an SSO (up by 4 per cent over the same period.)
Of the 26,423 community orders terminated in the quarter ending March 2013, 67 per cent had run their full course or were terminated early for good progress, a slight increase on the 66 per cent in the previous quarter ending March 2012. There was a slight decrease for SSOs which had run their full course or were terminated early for good progress from 69 to 68 per cent.
A total of 44,326 court reports were prepared in the quarter ending March 2013, 16 per cent down on the quarter ending March 2012, with falls seen for all types of report, reflecting the continuing downward trend in the number of cases being dealt with by the courts.
In general, courts follow the sentences proposed in PSRs, particularly where an immediate custodial sentence has been recommended - 89 per cent of such proposed sentences in PSRs resulted in immediate custody.
Offenders serving a sentence of twelve months and over are released from prison, in most cases automatically at the half way point of their sentence, under licensed supervision to the Probation Service. They are all subject to a set of standard licence conditions, requiring them to report regularly to the Probation Service, live at an address approved by the Probation Service and to be of good behaviour.
A key element of public protection is that offenders released on licence should be effectively supervised in the community and swiftly recalled to custody if their behaviour gives cause for concern. It is explained to offenders at the outset that they may be recalled to custody if they breach any of the conditions of their licence.
There are various reasons why offenders are recalled to custody for breaching their licence conditions besides committing a further offence. For example, an offender may be recalled if there is any deterioration in behaviour which leads the Probation Service to conclude that there is an increased risk of the offender committing further offences.
Over the period 1999 to March 2013, a total of 622,000 offenders were released from prison on licence supervision. Between April 1999 and March 2013, 155,498 of those released on licence were recalled to custody for breaching the conditions of their licence, e.g. failing to report to their probation officer. Of all those recalled to custody, only 998 had not been returned to custody by the end of June 2013. This total may include some offenders believed to be dead or living outside of the UK but who have not been confirmed as dead or deported.
Of the 998 not returned to custody by 30 June 2013, 123 had originally been serving a prison sentence for violence against the person offences and a further 35 for sexual offences.
During the quarter ending March 2013, a total of 4,011 offenders had their licence revoked and were recalled. By 30 June 2013, 3,942 of these recalled offenders had been returned to custody and 69 had not been returned to custody.
The end-to-end measure across all agencies involved in the process is for 75 per cent of recalled offenders to be returned to custody within 74 hours for emergency recalls and 144 hours for standard recalls. In the quarter ending 31 March 2013, 3,752 (81 per cent) were returned within agreed timescales.
Pre-release list for Offender management quarterly statistics bulletin
The bulletin is produced and handled by the ministry’s analytical professionals and production staff. Pre-release access of up to 24 hours is granted to the following persons:
Ministry of Justice
Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State; Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Minister for Prisons and Rehabilitation; Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Minister for Victims and the Courts; Permanent Secretary; Director General, Justice Policy Group; Deputy Director of Youth Justice Policy; Director of Sentencing and Rehabilitation; Director of Analytical Services; Director General of Finance and Corporate Services; Director General of Transforming Justice; Policy Manager Justice Policy Group; Youth Justice Policy Advisor; Programme Director: Youth Justice Analysis; and relevant special advisors and press officers.
Director General of National Offender Management Service; Head of NOMS Population Strategy; Head of Public Protection Casework Section (OMPPG); Head of Offender Management and Public Protection Unit (NOMS); Policy Lead, Reducing re-offending and Offender Health; Head of Planning and Analysis Group (PAG); Head of Policy and Performance (PPCS, PPMHG); Head of Statistics, Performance, Information and Analysis Group, NOMS; Strategy Unit Project Manager for Sentencing Assessment
Secretary of State, Home Office; Minister of State for Immigration; Minister of State for Policing and Criminal Justice; Home Office policy lead for re-offending;
Private Secretary to the Prime Minister
Special Advisor to Prime Minister
Ministry of Justice Finances and Strategy, Public Services Group HM Treasury
Deputy Private Secretary to Deputy Prime Minister
Pre-release access for licence recall and return to custody data only:
Director General, Crime and Policing Group; Director Civil Liberties and Public Protection; Head of Safeguarding and Public Protection Unit, Public Protection Information Team;
UKBA Rapid Response Team; UKBA Deputy Director Criminal Casework Directorate; CCD Performance Team
Head of Risk of Harm and Victims Section (PPMHG); PPCS Deputy Casework Database Manager