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All the facts about women in prison
woman prisoner on bunk
Prison Reform Trust briefing brings together all the latest stats on women in prison.

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Concerns about self-harm

A new briefing published today (15 August 2022) by the Prison Reform Trust collates a wide range of statistics on women in the criminal justice system and highlights the need to focus on reducing the imprisonment of women in England and Wales. It reveals that women are more likely than men to be on short sentences, have multiple and complex needs and be primary carers of children. Other key facts highlighted in the briefing include:

  • In 2021 50% of prison sentences given to women were for 6 months or less.
  • Women were sent to prison on 4,932 occasions in the year to March 2022 – either on remand or to serve a sentence.
  • In the year to March 2022 there were 1,513 recalls of women to custody. Women serving sentences of less than 12 months account for just under half (44%) of all recalls.
  • Less than half (47%) of women left prison in the year to March 2022 with settled accommodation.

The briefing is released only weeks after the publication of the Justice Committee report into women in prison, and a few months after the report of the Public Accounts Committee on improving outcomes for women in the criminal justice system. Both reports criticised the slow implementation of the government’s Female Offender Strategy, originally published in 2018.

A key aim of this strategy is to reduce the number of women’s prison places. Although there has been a recent decline in women’s prison numbers, in part due to the Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent court closures, the number of women in prison is beginning to tick upwards again. The women’s prison population currently stands at 3,210 and is projected to increase to 4,300 by July 2025.

Although progress in implementing the strategy has been slow, the briefing does highlight some welcome moves by the government to better support women who offend. This includes the recent announcement to introduce a pilot of three Problem-Solving Courts which are intended to provide tailored, wraparound support for individuals. The briefing also welcomes the continued roll out of the Community Sentence Treatment Requirement protocol and encourages the government to extend it to a larger number of court areas.

The briefing includes a very helpful infographic summarising the headline facts and figures about women in prison which I have replicated below.

The report collates the latest statistics on everything to do with women in prison including:

  • Abuse and trauma
  • Self-harm and self-inflicted death
  • Mothers in prison
  • Race and ethnicity
  • Women on remand
  • Women serving long sentences
  • The impact of the pandemic
  • Accommodation and employment for women on release
  • Community solutions


Thanks to Andy Aitchison for kind permission to use the header image in this post. You can see Andy’s work here.


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3 Responses

  1. Thank you for sharing interesting content. When I searched about prisoners, most of the topic was for men prisoned, yet I found your writing giving importance or sharing knowledge about women prisoners. Great post!

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