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 July to September 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 (31 December 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% 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, in part due to 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.
This flatter trend continued until the public disorder seen in UK cities from 6 to 9 August 2011 which had an immediate but temporary impact on the prison population. During 2012 and into 2013, the prison population began to fall due to a falling remand population and a continued decline in the number of under 18s in custody. The falling remand population during 2012 reflected falling volumes going through the courts plus the introduction, in December 2012, of measures restricting the use of remand for offenders who would be unlikely to receive a custodial sentence .
In the second half of 2013 the prison population increased, due to a relatively large rise in the remand population which may have been the result of changes to court committals.
The ‘Story of the Prison Population 1993 to 2012’ is an in-depth look at what happened to the prison population between 1993 and 2012 and the major factors contributing to the changes.
The prison population at 31 December 2013 was 84,163, an increase of 406 (less than 1%) compared to 31 December 2012 when the total population was 83,757.
At 31 December 2013, there were:
- 80,356 males in prison - a rise of 1% over the year
- 3,807 females in prison - a fall of 3% over the year
The overall small rise in the total prison population over the last year was due to an increase in the remand population whilst the sentenced population fell.
The remand population increased by 6%, driven entirely by an increase in the untried population (up 8%), while the convicted unsentenced population remained fairly stable. However, within the year-on-year increase there were some changing trends during the year. The remand population had fallen throughout much of 2012 reflecting falling volumes going through the courts. This continued into 2013 following the introduction, in December 2012, of measures restricting the use of remand for offenders who would be unlikely to receive a custodial sentence. By February 2013, the full impact of these measures had been realised and the remand population then remained relatively stable until the end of August 2013 when it began to rise. It continued to rise until mid November, with this temporary rise thought to be the result of changes to court committals.
The sentenced population fell by 1% over the last year due to the continued fall in the number of young offenders (aged under 21) in custody - young adults (aged 18-20) were down 14% and 15-17 year olds down 21%. The sentenced adult (age 21+) population remained relatively stable.
Although the overall adult sentenced population remained stable, the numbers serving long determinate sentences of 4 years or more continued to rise (up 4% from 24,462 to 25,470), while those serving 12 months to 4 year sentences fell by 2%.
Nearly two-thirds 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) – 656 offenders were serving such a sentence as at 31 December 2013.
The number of prisoners serving indeterminate sentences (either a life sentence or an Indeterminate Sentence for Public Protection – an IPP) continued to fall with the IPP and life sentence populations down 10% and 3% respectively. This 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 who would previously have received an IPP or an extended sentence.
Within the indeterminate sentenced population, as in previous quarters, 42% were serving an IPP (5,335) and 58% were serving life sentences (7,463). Two thirds of IPP prisoners had passed their tariff expiry date. There were 44 offenders serving a whole life sentence as at 31 December 2013. In addition to this, 8 prisoners serving whole life sentences were being treated in secure hospitals.
The number of non-criminals in prison rose by 747, or 60%, to 1,988 at 31 December 2013. Just over half of this increase is due to the NOMS agreement with the Home Office to hold an increased number of immigration detainees in the prison estate. The remainder of the rise is the result of data quality work to improve the recording of offenders who are held post-sentence pending deportation (who should be recorded as non-criminals, but historically at any given time, around 300 have wrongly remained recorded as sentenced prisoners). While it was not possible to also carry out the data quality work on last year’s prison population, it is likely that the impact would have been similar (around 300 non-criminal prisoners incorrectly recorded as sentenced prisoners at both points in time).
The foreign national prisoner population was 10,695 as at 31 December 2013, accounting for 13% 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% 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 31 December 2013, 27% of the sentenced population had committed violence against the person offences, an increase from 21% in 2000. Similarly, the proportion serving sentences for sexual offences increased from 10% in 2000 to 15% in December 2013. In contrast, the number serving sentences for motoring offences has fallen steadily over time, now comprising 1% of the sentenced population compared with 4% in 2000 and the proportion serving sentences for burglary has fallen from 17% in 2000 to 10% as at 31 December 2013.
In the quarter ending September 2013, there were 27,871 first receptions into prison, a fall of 3% compared to the same period in the previous year with falls seen for both males and females.
Between the quarters ending September 2012 and September 2013, the number of untried receptions – those remanded in custody awaiting trial - fell by 2%. Looking across the year, the number of untried remand receptions fell until the quarter ending March 2013 (as a result of measures restricting the use of remand introduced by LASPO ), but have since risen consistent with the increase in remand population (see prison population section above).
Convicted unsentenced receptions, those remanded in custody awaiting sentence, fell by 6% between the quarters ending September 2012 and September 2013 – they saw a similar pattern to untried remand receptions across the year.
There was a 4% fall in the number of prisoners received under sentence in the quarter ending September 2013 compared to the quarter ending September 2012. This fall was driven by falling numbers of short sentences (less than 12 months - down 7% overall), while longer determinate sentences of 4 years or more continued to rise (up 6%).
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.
A total of 19,669 offenders were discharged from determinate sentences in the quarter ending September 2013, a fall of 6% from the quarter ending September 2012. The decrease in discharges was reflected across both males (down 6%) and females (down 12%).
In line with the trends in prison receptions, this overall fall was driven by falling numbers discharged from sentences of less than 4 years, while numbers released from longer sentences continued to rise.
As well as those discharged from determinate sentences, 129 offenders were released from an Indeterminate sentence for Public Protection (IPP) and a further 83 from a life sentence (up slightly from 109 and 62 the previous year). In addition, 19 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 England and Wales, to be removed from prison and the country upon, or any date after, the expiry of their tariff without reference to the Parole Board. This scheme began in May 2012, and by the end of September 2013 there had been 205 removals in total.
Those discharged from determinate sentences in the quarter ending September 2013 had, on average, served 52% of their sentence in custody (including time on remand). On average males served a greater proportion of their sentence in custody – 52% compared to 46% for females in the quarter ending September 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).
The number of prisoners released on HDC fell by 18% between the quarters ending September 2012 and September 2013. 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 eligible population will have a direct impact on the number that can be considered for HDC release and the number that are subsequently released. Prisoners released on HDC in the quarter ending September 2013 spent an average of 2.8 months on HDC, down slightly from 3.0 months in the quarter ending September 2012.
The total annual probation caseload (court orders and pre and post release supervision) increased by 39% between 2000 and 2008 to 243,434. Since then the probation caseload has fallen year on year, reaching 224,823 at the end of 2012. The rise between 2000 and 2008 was driven by
the introduction of new court orders, in particular the Suspended Sentence Order (SSO) in 2005 (under the Criminal Justice Act 2003); and
an increase in the pre- and post-release supervision caseload due to:
- continued growth in numbers serving custodial sentences of 12 months or more who require supervision on licence 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% and SSOs by 8% compared to 2011. As at the end of September 2013, the total caseload fell again – down 3% compared to the end of September 2012.
Looking at the latest quarter, the court order caseload continued to decrease with the community order caseload down 6% and the SSO caseload down 3% between the quarters ending September 2012 and 2013. The number of offenders starting community orders and suspended sentence orders also decreased over this period, falling by 7% and 2% respectively.
In addition, in the quarter ending September 2013, there were over 1,200 starts of SSOs without requirements attached. This brings the total number of stand-alone SSOs starts to almost 3,000 since they were introduced under the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 (see data sources and quality section).
The caseload of offenders supervised before or after release from prison showed a slight decrease of 1% between the quarters ending September 2012 and 2013, driven entirely by a decrease in post-release supervision (down 2%), reversing the trend seen in previous quarters and consistent with the falling trend in prison discharges. The number of pre-release supervision starts fell by 8%, consistent with prison receptions where the number of offenders starting prison sentences continues to fall.
The number of requirements started under court orders continued to fall, in line with the decrease in the number of court order starts. Much of this decrease was driven by falls in unpaid work and curfew requirements; while specified activities, drug and alcohol treatment requirements continue to show increases.
Of the court orders terminated in the quarter ending September 2013, two-thirds (67%) were terminated successfully (either ran their full course or were terminated early for good progress). This was true for both Community Orders and SSOs.
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 September 2013, a total of 640,000 offenders were released from prison on licence supervision. Between April 1999 and September 2013, 164,345 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, less than 1% (only 1,035) had not been returned to custody by the end of December 2013. This total may include some offenders believed to be dead or living abroad but who have not been confirmed as dead or deported.
Of the 1,035 not returned to custody by 31 December 2013, 139 had originally been serving a prison sentence for violence against the person offences and a further 36 for sexual offences.
During the quarter ending September 2013, a total of 4,499 offenders had their licence revoked and were recalled; 92 had not been returned by 31 December 2013.
The end-to-end measure across all agencies involved in the process is for 75% of recalled offenders to be returned to custody within 74 hours for emergency recalls and 144 hours for standard recalls. In the quarter ending 30 September 2013, 3,507 (78%) 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; Minister 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)
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
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:
Ministry of Justice
Head of Sentencing Policy and Penalties Unit; Policy advisor, Women’s policy
Permanent Secretary; 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