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Russell Webster

Russell Webster

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

Fewer criminals, more prisoners serving longer sentences

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Latest criminal justice statistics confirm the long term trend of fewer people going through the courts, but more sentenced to prison with longer sentences.

Latest criminal justice statistics

The most recent (17 August 2017) Criminal Justice Statistics Quarterly bulletin (covering April 2016 – March 2017) confirms recent key trends — the lowest number of people since modern records began (1970) were dealt with by the courts, but the proportion of people imprisoned for indictable offences rose again and that average length of sentence increased too:

Fewer criminals

The continued fall in the number of individuals “formally dealt with” by the criminal justice system has been declining since 2007:

Out of court disposals keep falling

The use of out of court disposals (OOCDs) decreased by 46,500 (14%) in the year ending March 2017, with 274,600 individuals issued an OOCD. This decreasing trend can be seen across all OOCD types and continues the steady decline in the use of OOCDs since March 2008 (excluding Community Resolutions).

 

More people sent to prison for longer

The overall custody rate has remained unchanged at 7.2% since the year ending March 2016 while the custody rate for indictable offences has been increasing since the year ending March 2011, from 24% to 31%.

The average custodial sentence length (ACSL) has increased over the last decade, both overall (from 12.4 to 16.6 months) and for indictable offences (from 15.3 to 19.5 months). This is in part because more people have been sentenced for sexual offences, which have the highest ACSL, hence driving up the overall average. The total number of persons sentenced for sexual offences in the year ending March 2017 was 4,400, up from 2,800 in the year ending March 2007, while the ACSL for sexual offences increased by 18 months over the same period.

Check out the Sankey

The bulletin also contains a link to a fantastic resource for criminal justice commissioners, researchers, policy makers (and nerds): an interactive Sankey diagram which shows what happens to people convicted of different offences. The diagram can differentiate between adults and juveniles – the image below shows how we sentenced all juveniles in 2017:

 

 

 

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