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10 things from the last ever NOMS digest
The digest is a compendium of fascinating facts on prison & probation life: temporary release, accredited programmes and the 51 babies in prison last year.

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Trawling the latest MoJ publications

Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve perused the last ever NOMS  annual report (the National Offender Management Service was replaced by Her Majesty’s Prisons and Probation Service on 1 April this year) and this year’s Ministry of Justice annual report and accounts for nuggets of information which otherwise might go under the radar.

Today it’s the turn of the last ever NOMS digest, published on 27 July 2017, to be exposed to the light of day.

Here are ten facts I found of interest:

1: Failures to return from release on temporary licence

In 2016/17 there were 267 temporary release failures, 42 of which (16%) were failures to return, resulting in prisoners being unlawfully at large. This is an increase of 65% in temporary release failure incidents when compared to 2015/16 and can be partly explained by the increased recording of ‘minor failures’ such as prisoners returning to the prison after the agreed time.

Failures to return increased by 75% from 24 incidents in 2015/16, but this is still the second lowest figure in the time series presented.

2: Highest number of prisoners released in error ever

In 2016/17, 71 prisoners were released in error. This is an increase of 7 (11%) from 2015/16, and is the highest in any financial year since the time series began in 2006/07.

3: One quarter of prisoners held in overcrowded conditions

Crowding is measured as the number of prisoners who, at unlock on the last day of the month, are held in a cell, cubicle or room where the number of occupants exceeds the uncrowded capacity of the cell, cubicle or room. This includes the number of prisoners held two to a single cell, three prisoners in a cell designed for one or two and any prisoners held crowded in larger cells or dormitories. 24.5% of prisoners were held in crowded conditions in 2016/17. Unsurprisingly, crowding is worst in male local prisons where the rate is almost 50%.

4: Working in prisons

Last year an average of 11,200 prisoners worked 16 million hours in  prisons and Immigration Removal Centres; (surprisingly) identical figures to the previous year.

5: Working outside prisons

There were a total of 1,675 active prisoners, on average 368 prisoners per month, working out of the prison on licence.  These prisoners had average net earnings of around £937 a month from which on average £256 was raised from the Prisoners Earning Act levy to reduce the average net earnings to £681 per month. The levy raised £1.1 million for Victim Support.

6: Accredited programmes in custody fall

In the last 12 months, there was a 1% fall in the number of completions of accredited programmes in custody – from 7,057 in 2015/16 to 6,960 in 2016/17. This is in contrast with the previous year (2014/15 to 2015/16), where the decrease in programme completions was 7%. The overall fall in completions has not been seen for all programme types. Between 2015/16 and 2016/17, there was a 2% rise in (the now discredited) sexual offending treatment programme completions.

7: Accredited programmes in the community plummet

In the last seven years, there has been a 69% fall in accredited programme completions in the community, from 17,545 in 2009/10 to 5,473 in 2016/17. This was driven by a:

  • 82% drop in offender behaviour programme completions (offender behaviour programmes in a community setting defined as General offending, Substance Misuse and Violence programmes);
  • 25% drop in sexual offending treatment programme completions;
  • 38% drop in domestic violence programme completions.

In the last 12 months, the drop in completions was 22%, from 7,056 in 2015/16 to 5,473 in 2016/17. This was due to a:

  • 28% drop in offender behaviour programme completions;
  • 24% drop in domestic violence programme completions;
  • 5% drop in sexual offending treatment programme completions.

Much of this fall is attributed to the growth of Rehabilitation Activity Requirements, the quality of which has been criticised by the Probation Inspectorate.

8: 51 babies were in prison last year

There are currently five Mother and Baby Units in operation across the women’s prison estate in England and Wales which provide an overall total capacity of 52 places for mothers. However, there are a total of 57 places for babies to allow for twins. 61 women and 51 babies were received into a MBU in the 2016/17 financial year. This compares with 64 women and 57 babies in 2015/16 and is a continuation of the fall seen since 2010/11. There were 38 mothers and 40 babies in a MBU at the end of the financial year 2016/17.

9: Fewer offenders are tagged

At 31 March 2017, the total number of subjects actively monitored with an Electronic Monitoring device was 11,493, a fall of 9% compared to the same point in the previous year, continuing a downward trend which is linked to a decrease in the court caseload (court ordered tagging — as a bail condition and sentence — make up 76% of the total tagging caseload). The number of offenders subject to tagging on release from prison has increased.

10: More demand for Bail Accommodation and Support

Bail Accommodation and Support Services (BASS) provide accommodation to offenders from courts, offenders from custody and Home Detention Curfew requirement offenders. These offenders are placed in BASS-owned properties when they do not have a permanent place to live. In the financial year 2016/17, there was 1,957 referrals, an increase of 11% on the 1,770 made in 2015/16.


All prison posts are kindly sponsored by Prison Consultants Limited who offer a complete service from arrest to release for anyone facing prison and their family. Prison Consultants have no editorial influence on the contents of this site.

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