Bromley Briefings Prison Factfile
Prisons are an emotive subject and when the spotlight is on prison reform as it is now with new Justice Secretary Michael Gove’s emerging plans, it’s invaluable to be able to check your facts.
The most valuable reference point for most people interested in penal reform remains the Prison Reform Trust‘s regular Bromley Briefings.
The latest (Autumn 2015) edition is 76 pages long and can be found here.
Here are 10 new facts I learnt from it (I could have done a post with 50 or 100 facts…)
1: On 23 October 2015, the prison population in England and Wales was 85,106.
Between 1993 and 2014 the prison population in England and Wales increased by more than 40,000 people, a 91% rise. 25,555 people entered custody in the first three months of 2015.
2: England and Wales have the highest imprisonment rate in Western Europe
We lock up 148 people per 100,000 of the population.
3: Purposeful activity is currently at the lowest level inspectors have ever recorded
They were only good or reasonably good in around a quarter of prisons.
4: Prisons are getting bigger.
45% of prisoners are now held in prisons of 1,000 places or more.
5: Prison sentences are getting longer.
The average prison sentence is now nearly four months longer than twenty years ago at 15.9 months. For more serious, indictable offences, the average is 53.6 months.
6: In the 12 months to March 2015, 57% of custodial sentences imposed were for six months or less.
Even those these people could have been given community sentences which have lower reoffending rates, the use of community sentences has nearly halved (down by 46%) since 2006.
7: There are now fewer staff looking after more prisoners.
The number of staff employed in the public prison estate has fallen by 30% in the last five years— 13,730 fewer staff looking after nearly
1,200 more people.
8: Assaults are at the highest level they have ever been.
There were nearly 16,200 recorded assaults in prison during 2014—over three-quarters were prisoner on prisoner.
9: Between 2010–11 and 2014–15 NOMS delivered cumulative savings of almost £900m.
This is a reduction of nearly a quarter since 2010–11.
10: People aged 60 and over are the fastest growing age group in the prison estate.
There are now nearly triple the number there were 15 years ago.