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Russell Webster

Russell Webster

Criminal Justice & substance misuse expert and author of this blog.

Lowest number of offenders in 50 years

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The total number of individuals formally dealt with by the CJS has been declining since 2015 and fell 3% in the latest year to a record low (since 1970).

It is odd that our prison and probation systems are in such chaos at the same time as there are fewer criminals in the justice system than ever before.

Last week (16 May 2019), the MoJ published its annual Criminal Justice Statistics bulletin for 2018 which highlighted that:

  • The total number of individuals formally dealt with by the CJS in England and Wales in 2018 was 1.59 million, a number which has been declining since 2015 and fell 3% in the latest year to a record low (since 1970).
  • Unsurprisingly, prosecutions were also down (by 2%). 1.38 million people were prosecuted last year, Decreases were seen in all offence groups except possession of weapons (up 4%) and summary motoring offences (up 3%).
  • Remands were also down — In the latest year, the number of defendants remanded on bail by the Police decreased by 24%, while the number remanded in custody decreased 7%. A similar trend was observed at courts.
  • Those who are sent to prison receive longer sentences, the average is now 17.3 months. Over the last decade the custody rate has remained stable, however the number sentenced to immediate custody has decreased since 2011, those that did get sent to prison, received a longer average custodial sentence , increasing from 13.3 months in 2008 to 17.3 months 2018.
  • Offenders with long criminal careers now account for nearly two-fifths of the offending population.¬†Since 2010, the proportion of offenders with a long criminal career (more than 15 previous cautions or convictions) has increased. In 2018, nearly two-fifths (37%) of the offending population had a long criminal career; an increase of 10 percentage points since 2008.

The MoJ now publish a very helpful infographic which summarises the latest justice trends most helpfully:

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