10 things I learnt from the 2019 HMPPS Annual Digest

Latest prison facts, figures and trends from the HMPPS annual digest

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Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service has just (25 July 2019) published its annual digest. Here are ten things that I found of interest — I hope you do too.

1: Fewer prisoners working

In the year ending March 2019, on average, around 12,100 prisoners and detainees were working in custody at any one time across public sector prisons, privately managed prisons and Immigration Removal Centres. They delivered around 17.1 million hours of work during the course of a year.

2: Prisoners’ Earning Act Levy

£1.6 million was raised from the imposition of the levy on prisoners’ earnings to be paid to Victim Support. On average, 572 prisoners per month were working out of the prison on licence and subject to the Prisoners’ Earnings Act levy and had average net earnings of £846 per month.

3: More barricades

In the 12 months to March 2019, the number of barricade/prevention of access incidents went up by 24% when compared with the previous year. The number of incidents at height rose by 15% in the same time period. (An incident at height is defined as any incident taking place at height above or below ground level. This category can come in many forms including prisoners on the netting, climbing over bars or on the roof and is generally regarded as prison jargon for roof-top protests.) This is a worrying stat, since the previous year’s figures were themselves a 7% increase on the year before.

4: More drugs and SIM cards found

There were increases of 41%, 8% and 14% in finds incidents of drugs, mobile phones and SIM cards, respectively, between the year ending March 2018 and the year ending March 2019.

5: Fewer people tagged

At 31 March 2019, the total number of subjects actively monitored with an Electronic Monitoring (EM) device and open EM order was 10,772., down 4% on the previous year.

© Andy Aitchison

6: Staff sickness rates

HMPPS staff lost an average of 9.3 working days to sickness absence with Youth Custody Staff having the highest rate of 12.5 average working days lost per year.

7: Crowding rates

Although the official rate of prison overcrowding fell to 22.5%, the rate was still 45.7% in male local prisons.

8: Psychoactive substances

Although the rate of positive drug tests fell to 10.4% last year, a 0.5% fall compared to the previous year, the figure is much higher when testing for psychoactive substance is included – 17.7%.

9: There are fewer babies in prison 

During the latest 12-month period, 97 applications were made for a place within a Mother and Baby Unit compared with 118 in the year to March 2018. 46 applications were approved and 15 refused (in the previous year, 60 were approved and 38 applications were refused).

10: Public sector prisons have the lowest BAME representation in HMPPS

Public prisonshad the lowest BAME representation rate with 7.3% of staff declaring their ethnicity as BAME (a very slight increase of 0.8 percentage points since 31 March 2018). Meanwhile, 15.0% of staff in YCS (an increase of 1.3 percentage points since 31 March 2018) and 11.5% of staff in HQ & Area services (no substantial change from 31 March 2018) declared their ethnicity as BAME.

Thanks to Andy Aitchison for kind permission to use the images in this post. You can see Andy’s work here.


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