Facts and figures
Last week (28 July 2022), the MoJ published the HMPPS annual digest for 2021/22. Its 48 pages contain a raft of statistics, 10 of which I have picked out for your education and entertainment here. I have tried to avoid stats that have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic as much as possible. I hope you find my choices interesting
1: Escapes are up
When compared with the previous year, the number of escapes in the year ending March 2022 increased from 5 to 12.
2: More people released in error
In the 12-months to March 2022, 54 prisoners were released in error. This is a 17% increase from 46 the previous year, but lower than the peak of 72 in the year ending March 2017. The number of prisoners released in error has been broadly stable at around 50 per year since 2007.
3: Overcrowding getting worse
Despite the government’s much vaunted £4 billion prison building programme, the percentage of prisoners in crowded conditions increased to 20.6% last year (up from 20.2% the year before).
4: More foreign national offenders
In the 12-months to March 2022, 7,439 referrals of foreign national offenders were made to the Home Office, this is an increase of 19.9% when compared with the same period last year, when the number was 6,206.
5: Mother and Baby Units
In the 12-months to March 2022, 39 women and 40 babies were received into MBUs; compared with 27 women and 19 babies in the previous reporting year. MBU’s still received fewer mothers and a similar number of babies when compared to pre-pandemic figures in the 12-months to March 2020 (49 women and 39 babies).
6: Finds in prison
The number of finds of drugs, mobile phones and tobacco all fell compared to the previous year. However, there were 8,057 incidents where weapons were found in the 12-months to March 2022, an increase of 12% compared to the previous year. While the number of alcohol finds fell by 2%, the amount of distilling equipment jumped by 12% to 522 incidents.
7: More people on “Basic”
As most readers will know, the incentives scheme (previously known as Incentives and Earned Privileges – IEP) allow prisoners to earn privileges through good behaviour and engagement in the regime and rehabilitation. Privileges can also be lost through poor behaviour. People start on “Standard” and can go up or down. The proportion on “Basic” (the lowest/punishment band) increased significantly last year from 0.7% to 1.3% of all prisoners.
8: Bail Accommodation down
There were 3,424 total referrals for the Bail Accommodation and Support Service in the 12-months to March 2022; a decrease of 12% on the 3,891 referrals made in the previous year. This is particularly troubling with remand levels at their highest since 2008.
9: Home Detention Curfews down
The number of Home Detention Curfew (HDC) referrals decreased by 22% in the latest year, from 2,868 referrals in the year to March 2021 to 2,224 referrals this year.
10: The impact of COVID on staffing levels
Between 31 March 2021 and 30 November 2021, the number of staff absent at a given time due to COVID-19 sickness have ranged between 244 and 587 before a large increase was recorded on 31 December 2021, where 2,728 staff were absent. This is the highest number of staff absent recorded between April 2020 and April 2022 and more than double the staff absent due to COVID-19 on 31 December 2020, where 1,232 staff were absent.