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Prison and Probation Trends January 2023
Offender Management Statistics for January 2023 show rises in overall prison population and 9% jump in recalls.

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Prison population up 3% on last year

The latest (26 January 2023) Offender Management Statistics published jointly by the MoJ and Office for National Statistics show the latest prison and probation trends. The current bulletin reports on the prison population up to 31 December 2022 and other justice trends up to 30 September last year.

The headline trends are summarised in the infographic reproduced below.

The remand population

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 has increased and this quarter’s figure of 14,143 is 11% higher than in December 2021. Recent industrial action by barristers (now resolved) is likely to have also contributed to this figure. The untried prison population rose by 12% (to 9,306) when compared to the end of December 2021 whilst the convicted unsentenced population rose by 8% (to 4,837) over the same period.

Most of those in custody on remand were being held for either: violence against the person (29% of the untried population and 18% of the convicted unsentenced population); or drug offences (24% of the untried population and 34% of the convicted unsentenced population).

Indeterminate sentences

As at 31 December 2022, there were 8,513 (8,186 male; 327 female) prisoners serving indeterminate sentences (Imprisonment for Public Protection (IPP) and life sentences). This represents a slight overall decrease (-1%) when compared with 31 December 2021.

The number of unreleased prisoners (7,119) serving life sentences has increased by 1% compared to one year ago whereas the number of unreleased IPP prisoners fell by 13% to 1,394. At point of sentencing, offenders are given a minimum time period (their “tariff”) which they are required to serve in prison before they can apply to the Parole Board for release. The majority (57%) of the remaining unreleased IPP prisoners have been held for more than nine years beyond the end of their tariff.

However, the number of recalled prisoners serving life sentences increased by 13% to 753 when compared to December 2021 whilst the number of recalled IPP prisoners saw a 10% increase to 1,498.

Recalls

The population recalled to custody (10,697 prisoners) has increased by 12% relative to the total a year earlier. The increasing recall population is likely driven by a combination of factors such as a longer-term increase in the average length of determinate sentences and an increase in the number of people serving indeterminate sentences or sentences with an extended licence.

There usually is more than one reason for recalling an offender on licence. Of recalls in July-September 2022, about 30% involved a charge of further offending, 72% involved non-compliance, 29% involved failure to keep in touch, and 26% involved failure to reside.

Probation caseload

As of 30 September 2022, there were 240,674 offenders supervised by the Probation Service (Figure 3), representing a 2% increase compared to 30 September 2021. However, this represents a 1% decrease compared to 30 June 2022.

Between the end of September 2021 and the end of September 2022, court order caseload increased by 6% from 107,364 to 114,073, with the number of offenders on a community order (CO) and those on a suspended sentence order (SSO) with requirements both increasing by 5% and 10% respectively.

The total caseload of offenders supervised before or after release from prison at the end of September 2022 was 131,215, representing a decrease of 0.2% compared to the end of September 2021.

The chart reproduced below shows that the overall trend is for fewer people subject to probation supervision despite the continuing growth in the prison population.

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