Prison population projected to rise by 1600
Last week (24 August 2017), the Ministry of Justice and Office for National Statistics issued the latest prison population projections covering 2017 to 2022.
The graphic below shows the headline findings – in particular, that the prison population is expected to grow by a further 1600 people between 2019 and 2022.
Stable for next two years before projected rises
The prison population was 86,388 as of Friday 18th August 2017. It is projected to remain stable to June 2019 but then increase by 1,600 places above the current level to 88,000 in March 2022. This is because over the next two years projected growth in the determinate sentenced and recall populations is offset by projected declines in the indeterminate population – in other words, the release of IPPs will counter-balance the increase in higher levels of imprisonment with longer sentences for more serious offences.
Increase in recalls
The bulletin provides an interesting breakdown of the “sub-populations” which shows that the number of remand prisoners and the number of prisoners recalled to prison are both set to rise:
More older prisoners
The bulletin also highlights the projected increase in older prisoners. As you can see, the number of prisoners aged 50 or older is projected to grow by 1,424 over the next four years to 14,800 or 17% of the total prison population.
Clearly these figures represent more bad news for the Ministry of Justice as the prison estate struggles to cope with the existing population with low levels of staffing and 24.5% of all prisoners (and 50% in male locals) held in overcrowded conditions.
On the other hand, they might provide more political leverage for the Justice Secretary who I understand to be actively considering an early release scheme to reduce pressure on the system.
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