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Performance stats shed more light on prison crisis
HMPPS annual digest reveals range of performance issues including 65% fall in accredited programmes since austerity began in 2010.

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Ten prison performance trends

This year’s HMPrison and Probation Service Annual Digest was published on 26 July 2018 and reveals some interesting information about prison performance (despite the title, there is no probation performance information in this digest).

Below are ten facts which I hope you find interesting.

1: Massive fall in accredited programmes

In the last eight years, there have been year on year falls in the number of accredited programme completions in custody commissioned by HMPPS. The number has fallen by 65% from 16,099 in the 12 months to March 2010 to 5,619 in the 12 months to March 2018. Over the same time period, the number of starts has fallen by 66%. (This is one of the factors linked to IPPs serving so far beyond their sentence; their risk level cannot be deemed to have gone down until they have attended an accredited programme which they are not given the chance to take.)

2: Drug use is endemic

Ignoring new psychoactive substances, 10.6% of random mandatory drug tests were positive, up 1.3% on last year. This is the highest level since the year ending March 2006. Including the new psychoactive substances, the rate was 20.4%.

3: More barricades and protests

In the 12 months to March 2018 the number of barricade/prevention of access incidents went up by 7% when compared with the previous year. The number of “incidents at height” rose by 27% in the same time period. (An incident at height is defined as any incident taking place at height above or below ground level. This category can come in many forms including prisoners on the netting, climbing over bars or on the roof and is generally regarded as prison jargon for roof-top protests.)

4: More seizures of drugs and phones

There were increases of 23%, 15% and 13% in finds of drugs, mobile phones and SIM cards, respectively, between the year ending March 2017 and the year ending March 2018. 

5: More mothers and babies in prison

In the year to March 2018, 70 women were received and 60 babies were received into Mother and Baby Units; compared with 61 women and 51 babies in the previous reporting year.

6: A less diverse service

Of all HMPPS staff, public sector prison staff had the lowest BAME representation rates with 6.4% of staff who declared their race as BAME, compared with 13.7% of staff in the Youth Custody Service. (The overall proportion of HMPSS staff from a BAME background was 8.2%).

7: More prisoners are working

In the year ending 2018, on average, around 12,300 prisoners and detainees were working in custody at any one time across public sector prisons, privately managed prisons and Immigration Removal Centres. They delivered around 17 million hours of work during the course of a year.

8: Fewer people were tagged

At 31 March 2018, the total number of subjects actively monitored with an Electronic Monitoring (EM) device and open EM order was 11,205, a drop of 2.5% on last year. There has been a general downward trend in the number of subjects actively monitored.

9: More people are absconding

The number of prisoners absconding has increased from 86 to 139. (As most people will know, absconding is not escaping; it is defined as “where a prisoner leaves prison custody without lawful authority but without overcoming a physical security restraint”).

10: Sickness rates down

In the year ending 31 March 2018, HMPPS staff lost an average of 9.2 working days to sickness absence.
Compared with the year ending 31 March 2017, this is a decrease of 0.9 working days lost.


The 2018 edition of  the Criminal Justice Management Conference will offer delegates up-to-date and cutting edge case studies, providing expert advice and guidance. This year’s conference is taking place on 19 September in London.Key note speakers include David Lammy MP. Click here to receive a £100 discount.

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