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Prisons cost £4.2 billion in 2022/23
Latest MoJ information release gives cost per place and costs per prisoner by individual prison

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The cost of prisons

At a time when the prison and probation services are crying out for resources, it seemed rather timely that the Ministry of Justice published its information release giving costs per place and costs per prisoner by individual prison last week (21 March 2024). The information release gives the total “direct resource expenditure” for all prisons for 2022/23 as £2,751,481,717 and the overall resource expenditure as a whopping £4,181,725,178.

The costs per prison place vary by type of institution with male open prisons costing an average of £22,205 per place and male YOIs £82,566. The parallel cost per prisoner are £27,348 for male opens and £178,970 for male YOIs. Given the current level of overcrowding, costs per prisoner for the current year may actually go down although overall costs will of course increase.


While we expect some types of establishment to be much more expensive than others – and anyone who has been to a male local recently won’t be surprised at the relatively low cost per place in these prisons – there is also considerable variation between the same types of establishment as my table below shows. The costs shown are cost per prisoner per year.

Titan prisons

These figures show why the Government is wedded to the idea of these new super-sized Titan prisons. The cost per prisoner at HMP Oakwood with an average population of 2,069 in 2022/23 (despite its Certified Normal Accommodation being 1,600) was £17,006. Similarly HMP Berwyn (average 1,828, CNA 2,106) was £22,218. HMP Aylesbury held an average of just 375 prisoners (CNA 402) at double the cost per prisoner – £44,723. Similarly, Morton Hall (average 230, CNA 353) cost £48,716 per prisoner.


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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Prison cost us £3billion last year

We spent £3billion on imprisonment in England and Wales last year. Government accounts also show the wide variation in costs between individual prisons.

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