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Russell Webster

Russell Webster

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

Offender (in) equalities 2018

Interesting facts from HMPPS Offender Equalities Annual Report 2017/18

Protected characteristics

HMPPS has just (29 November 2018) published its annual offender equalities report which provides statistics on offenders in prison and in the community and their protected characteristics.

Here are twelve facts from the 80 page bulletin that I found of interest. I’ve not included information about women offenders as the MoJ has also just published its annual women and the criminal justice system report which will be the subject of a separate blog post later this week.

Although David Lammy has prepared us for the level of racial disparity in the justice system, many of the facts still make for depressing reading.

1: 27% Prisoners are from BAME backgrounds 

In March 2018, prisoners who declared themselves in the White ethnic group made up almost three quarters (60,724 or 73%) of the prison population in England and Wales. Prisoners who declared their ethnicity as Black, Asian or Minority Ethnic (BAME) represented 21,992 (or 27%) of all prisoners.

2: There were more transgender prisoners

There were 139 transgender prisoners in the 2018 data collection; an increase on the figure of 125 recorded in 2017. 111 prisoners reported their legal gender as male, 23 as female and 5 did not state their legal gender. There were 42 transgender prisoners in woman’s prisons. When asked about the gender with which the prisoner identified themselves, 22 identified as female 17 as male. and 3 did not provide a response.

3: There were more mothers and babies in prison

In the year to March 2018, 70 women and 60 babies were received into a MBUs in England and Wales. This compares with 61 women and 51 babies in the 12 months ending March 2017. In the 12 months ending March 2018, 118 applications were received for admission into an MBU. Of the 98 applications which resulted in a recommendation 60 (61%) applications were approved and 38 (39%) refused. This compares with 61 (79%) applications approved and 16 (21%) applications refused in the previous 12 month period.

4: Deaths in custody

There were 295 deaths in prison custody in the 2017 calendar year (a decrease of 59 on the number in the previous year). A rate of 3.45 deaths in prison custody per 1,000 prisoners (down from 4.15 in the previous 12 month period). Of the 295 deaths in custody during 2017:

  • 184 were from natural causes (rate of 2.15 per 1,000 prisoners);
  • 70 deaths were apparently self-inflicted (0.82 per 1,000);
  • 3 apparent homicides and
  • 38 were from other causes.

5: White prisoners more likely to self-harm

In the 12 months ending December 2017, there were 44,651 reported incidents of self-harm, an increase of 11.2% when compared with 2016. The proportion of self-harm incidents for the White prisoner population remains higher than the BAME overall population. In 2017, White prisoners were the most likely to self-harm with a rate of 621 incidents per 1,000 prisoners. This is more than 3.5 times higher than BAME prisoners (165 incidents per 1,000 prisoners).

6: Ethnicity and prison assaults

There were 432 assailants per 1,000 prisoners for those who identified as mixed race, compared with 379 per 1,000 prisoners for those who identified as black and 180 assailants per 1,000 prisoners for those who identified as white. Those who identified as Asian where least likely to be an assailant.

Those who identified as white were least likely to be a victim (148 victims per 1,000 prisoners), and those who identified as mixed were the most likely (188 victims per 1,000 prisoners).

7: More prisoners absconded

In the 12 months ending March 2018, 139 prisoners absconded (all but two were men); is an increase of 59% from 86 absconds in the same period the previous year.

8: Black prisoners had fewer days on temporary release

9% of all prisoners had at least one instance of ROTL with those released on ROTL averaging 46.8 releases per annum. For prisoners from an Asian or Asian British background, 12% had at least one instance of ROTL, the highest among the main ethnic groups compared with 5% of prisoners from an Other ethnic background which was the lowest. Prisoners from a White background released on ROTL had an average 48.0 releases per annum, the highest among the main ethnic backgrounds whereas the lowest is among prisoners from a Black or Black British background released on ROTL who averaged 42.2 releases per annum.

9: Adjudications still increasing

In the year to December 2017, there were 191,614 adjudication outcomes, compared with 171,518 in 2016. This is a 12% increase compared with last year and a 44% increase in the past 5 years. 65% of adjudication outcomes were proven.

The rate of proven adjudications was highest among prisoners with a mixed and black or black British ethnic background In calendar year 2017, the rate of proven adjudications was highest among the Mixed ethnicity and Black or Black British groups, at 212 and 171 per 100 prisoners respectively. The rate was lowest among the Asian or Asian British ethnic groups, at 102 per 100 prisoners.

10: Black and mixed race prisoners more likely to be on basic

Local Incentives and Earned Privileges (IEP) schemes operate on four levels: Basic, Entry, Standard and Enhanced. As at 31 March 2018, 7% of prisoners had basic IEP status; 5% had entry status, 48% had standard status; and 40% had enhanced status. However, the proportion of prisoners with a basic IEP status was 9% for prisoners who declared themselves as Black or Black British and was 10% for those in the Mixed Ethnic group.

11: BAME offenders less likely to get community orders

In the 12 months to 31st December 2017, offenders with a non-White ethnic background comprised 18% of the total number of offenders given Community or Suspended Sentence Orders, compared with 17% in the previous year. However, people with a BAME background comprised 27% prison population.

12: Ethnic differences in order and licence completions

Offenders of Asian and Asian British and Chinese or Other ethnic groups had higher percentages of successful terminations (84.1% and 82.8% respectively) in the latest year than any other known ethnic group. Offenders from the Mixed ethnic group had the lowest proportion of successful terminations (78.0%), while White and Black or Black British offenders recorded termination rates of 79.3% and 79.5% respectively, as shown in the chart below:

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