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.
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.
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.
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.