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10 things I learnt from the 2022/23 HMPPS Annual Digest
The latest prison and probation facts & figures from the 2022/23 HMPPS annual digest

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10 interesting facts

Last week (27 July 2023), the MoJ published its official HMPPS Annual Digest for 2022/23, a sort of compendium of facts and figures not included in the regular statistical bulletins. It’s a tradition on my blog that I peruse the 40 pages and try to pick out 10 facts and figures a little less mainstream.

1: “Proper jobs”

Let’s start with some good news for a change. In the 12 months ending March 2023, an average of 1,088 prisoners worked each month and were subject to the Prisoners Earnings Act. This is basically an indication of those earning a proper wage working for outside employers. The number represents an increase of 37% on the previous year, when the number was 793 per month.

2: Security

In the 12 months to March 2023 there were 14,724 incidents of drug finds and 7,837 incidents of mobile phone finds, decreases of 17% and 2% respectively from the previous year. However, there were 9,481 incidents of alcohol finds and 9,400 incidents of weapon finds, increases of 9% and 17% respectively over the same period.

3: Pregnant in prison

For the first time, the annual digest shows data on the total number of women known to be pregnant in prison during 2022-23 (196 women) as well as monthly totals. January 2023 had the highest number of pregnant women in prison in a month at 58 pregnant women. 

4: Whoops!

There were a remarkable 71 prisoners released in error in the latest year, an increase of 31% compared with the year ending March 2022.

5: Release on Temporary Licence

Although the numbers of people failing to come back from ROTL increased this year, it was mainly a reflection in the number of people granted temporary release. The proportion of people who fail to return is tiny – just 65 out of 386,435 incidences of ROTL last year.

6: Private prison overcrowding

Surprisingly, to me at least, since most are new builds, overcrowding rates are highest in private prisons. The private prison crowding rate was 28% for the latest 12-month period, compared to 22% in public prisons. Unsurprisingly, overcrowding levels were highest in male locals, where a staggering 49% prisoners had to endure sharing a tiny cell with others.

7: Hostage incidents

In the 12 months to March 2023, there were 52 incidents where prisoners took someone hostage, up 33% from 39 in the previous 12 months.

8: Tobacco finds

Smoking inside was banned in September 2015 which means that we now have data on tobacco finds of which there were 3,694 incidents, up 16% on the year before.

9: Basic

There was worrying increase in the proportion of prisoners on a Basic incentive status last year, trebling from 1% to 3% compared to the previous year.

10: Mother and baby units

During the latest 12-month period, 78 applications were made for a place within an MBU compared with 88 in the year to March 2022. Of these 40 applications were approved and 15 refused.


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