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Criminal justice trends – summer 2022
The Offender Management Statistics published in July 2022 shows the main justice trends including growing numbers of people in prison and on probation.

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Offender Management Statistics

The Offender Management Statistics Bulletin published yesterday (28 July 2022) by the Ministry of Justice and Office for National Statistics give us the chance to analyse the main justice trends. The stats cover the first quarter of this year and the prison population up to the end of June. 

The headline trends show the number of people in prison slowly rising again now that the pandemic is no longer affecting the justice system in the same way – there were 80,659 people in prison on 30 June, 3% up on the previous year (although still more than 2,400 lower than in March 2020.

There were also 240,922 on probation at the end of March this year, a jump of 7% on the previous year. More detailed analysis can be found below.

Prisons

More people are entering prison than are being released. There were 15,354 first receptions into prison between January and March 2022 – an increase of 9% on the previous year. However, just 11,324 were released from sentences in the same quarter. This was 1% lower than the same period in 2021. As the prison population shifts towards those serving longer sentences, the MoJ expects fewer releases in a given period.

Another increasingly important factor in our growing population is the number of people recalled to prison. There were 5,544 licence recalls between January and March 2022, a 5% increase on the same quarter last year. There usually is more than one reason for recalling an offender on licence. Of recalls in January-March 2022, about 33% involved a charge of further offending, 70% involved non-compliance, 28% involved failure to keep in touch, and 24% involved failure to reside. One in eleven (9%) of people in prison are there because of recall.

A growing remand population is also inflating the number of people inside. Between June 2016 and the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, the remand population was under 10,000. Since the start of the pandemic, it increased and this quarter’s figure of 13,409 is the highest June remand prison population since 2008. The untried prison population rose by 4% (to 8,763) when compared to the end of June 2021 whilst the convicted unsentenced population rose by 8% (to 4,646) over the same period.

Changes in offence groups

The number of prisoners serving immediate custodial sentences for drug offences has increased by 5% over the past year to 10,775 as at 30 June 2022.
While sexual offences is one of the largest groups amongst prisoners serving immediate custodial sentences, the population had been falling since it peaked in mid-2018. However, over the past year, the number has risen gradually again, with a 6% increase (to 12,455) in the 12 months to 30 June 2022. There were also 53% and 9% increases in the number of untried and convicted-unsentenced prisoners respectively in this offence group over the same period.
Three in every ten (31%) inmates serving an immediate custodial sentence have been convicted of a Violence Against the Person (VATP) offence. This proportion has increased from the ‘one in four’ (25%) level seen in recent years.

Extended determinate sentences

EDS is a sentence the majority of which is served in prison, followed by an additional extended period of licence in the community. They can be imposed if the offender is found guilty of, or has a previous conviction for, a specific sexual, violent or terrorist offence. On 30 June 2022, 6,864 prisoners were serving such sentences; an 11% increase compared to the same time last year. Once we see these prisoners released in large numbers, we may see another increase in the number of recalls because of the long duration of the licence period.

Probation

Latest figures on probation starts are levelling out after increasing since operational restrictions,8 introduced in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, were lifted in late spring 2020. This had an ongoing knock-on effect on caseload figures whereby the number of offenders supervised by the Probation Service overall continued to increase and so recover to pre-pandemic levels, but has now slowed to a more gradual increase than in the initial periods following the lifting of restrictions.
As at 31 March 2022, there were 240,922 offenders supervised by the Probation Service, representing a 7% increase compared to 31 March 2021 and a 1% increase compared to 31 December 2021.
Between the end of March 2021 and the end of March 2022, court order caseload increased by 19% from 95,127 to 113,378, with the number of offenders on a community order (CO) and those on a suspended sentence order (SSO) with requirements both increasing by 19% and 21% respectively.
The total caseload of offenders supervised before or after release from prison at the end of March 2022 was 132,098, representing a decrease of less than 1% compared to the end of March 2021.

Requirements

Under COs and SSOs, there were increases across most requirement types compared to the same quarter in 2021. Most notably, under COs, mental health, alcohol treatment, and unpaid work requirements increased by 54% to 251, by 28% to 958, and by 18% to 8,200 respectively. However, accredited programme requirements decreased by 15% to 1,485. Under SSOs, mental health, drug treatment and unpaid work requirements increased by 49% to 146, by 26% to 601, and by 20% to 4,007 respectively.

Pre-Sentence Reports

PSRs keep falling, in the first quarter of this year the total number of PSRs decreased by 3% to 20,858 compared to the previous quarter and by 2% compared to the same quarter in 2021.

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