10 things I learnt about offender equalities

NOMS annual offender equalities report reveals interesting facts about an ageing offender population with less temporary release & more prison adjudications

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NOMS annual equalities report

The Ministry of Justice has just (24 November 2016) published its National Offender Management Service Offender Equalities Annual Report.

I’ve picked 10 facts which I hope you will find of interest from this annual bulletin. Very few of them are related to women offenders (since I covered most of the key differences from men in the criminal justice system in this post last week) or Black and Minority Ethnic offenders (again because I covered racism in the justice system in a separate post earlier this month).

1: Prisoners are getting older

There has been a change in the age profile of prisoners. Between 2011 and 2016, the number of young prisoners (aged 15 to 24) went down by 30.9%. Over the same time period, there has been a 42.9% increase in the number of prisoners aged 50 or more.

2: So are offenders in the community

The proportion of offenders in the community aged 18-24 has fallen from 34.0% (46,003) in 2010 to 26.6% (30,066) in 2015. There have been corresponding increases in the proportion of offenders aged 30 or over. In particular, the proportion aged 50 or over has gone up from 6.2% (8,414) in 2010 to 9.1% (10,272) in 2015.


3: Young people have the highest reoffending rates

In January to December 2014, those aged 10-14 had the highest reoffending rate (39.5%), followed by those aged 15-17 (37.5%). The proportion of offenders who reoffend generally decreases as age increases.

4: The proportion of Muslim prisoners is much greater than Muslims in the community

The proportion of Muslim prisoners has grown steadily between 2002 and 2016. In 2002, Muslims made up 7.7% of the prison population, as at 31 March 2016 this figure was 14.7%. This compares with 4.2% of those aged 15 or over declaring their religious belief as Muslim in the 2011 Census.

5: Prisoners’ religion

Christianity was the largest religious affiliation, with 41,940 prisoners identifying themselves as Christian (49.1% of the prison population). This proportion has remained fairly steady over the last 10 years. The second largest group was those with No Religion with 26,349 prisoners (30.9% of the prison population).

6: The number of recorded transgender prisoners

33 of the 123 public and private prisons (27%) in England and Wales said that they had 1 or more transgender prisoners and there were 70 prisoners currently living in, or presenting in, a gender different to their sex assigned at birth and who have had a case conference (as defined by PSI 07/2011).

7: Who absconds from prison?

Absconders are people who escape from open prisons — an abscond is defined as when a prisoner, “gains liberty without the need to overcome physical security restraints, or evade direct staff supervision.” In the financial year 2015/16, there were 105 absconds, a decrease of 42.0% from 2014/15, continuing the general downward trend since 2003/04; the age group with the most absconds was 30-39 with 40 absconds.


8: Fewer releases on temporary licence

In 2015, 7.9% of the prison population had at least one instance of ROTL, with on average 49.3 releases per annum. This has decreased from 10.3% of the prison population and an average of 51.4 releases per annum from 2014. The reduction coincides with a change in ROTL policy in May 2014, resulting in prisoners eligible for ROTL having lower risk of failure. Female prisoners were nearly twice as likely as males to have at least one instance of ROTL in 2015 (15.8% of females compared with 7.5% of males).

9: And fewer temporary release failures

A temporary release failure after a release on temporary licence (ROTL) occurs when a prisoner fails to adhere to any condition written into the licence that permits their temporary release. Such conditions include the date and time by which the prisoner is required to return to the prison and may also place restrictions on where the prisoner may go and whom they may visit during the period of release, etc. In the calendar year 2015, there were 162 temporary release failures, a decrease of 31.9% from 2014. This is the lowest number of temporary release failures in the time series since 2002.

10: Adjudications up again

In the calendar year 2015, there was a total of 148,023 adjudications, of which 102,531 (69.3%) were proven. The numbers of total adjudications and proven adjudications have increased in the last two years. Between 2014 and 2015, total adjudications went up by 16.1% and proven adjudications rose by 14.6%. In 2015 there were, on average, 120 proven adjudications per 100 prisoners. There were 19,604 dismissed adjudications during 2015, an average of 23 per 100 prisoners over the year.


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