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Prison and Probation Trends Spring 2023
Spring 2023 Offender Management Stats show prison population up 6%, recalls up 6% & probation caseload up 1%,

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Justice trends

This week’s (27 April 2023) quarterly Offender Management Statistics Bulletin cover the prison population to the end of March and other prison and probation statistics for 2022. The headline findings are set out below:

  • There were 84,372 prisoners in England and Wales on 31 March 2023, 6% higher than at the same point in the previous year.
  • There were 16,422 first receptions into prison between October and December 2022, a rise of 9% compared to the same period in 2021.
  • There were 11,582 releases from sentences between October and December 2022, 5% lower than the same period in 2021. As the prison population shifts towards those serving longer sentences, we expect fewer releases in a given period.
  • There were 41,171 adjudication outcomes between October and December 2022, a rise of 8% compared to the same period in 2021. Additional days were awarded as punishment on 716 occasions – this was 6% higher than the same period in 2021.
  • There were 6,092 licence recalls between October and December 2022, a 6% increase on the same quarter in 2021.
  • There were 240,431 offenders on probation at the end of December 2022, up 1% compared to the previous year.

Remand population still rising

On 31st March, the sentenced prison population stood at 69,119 (82% of the total); the remand prison population stood at 14,591 (17%) and the non-criminal prison population stood at 662 (1%). The  remand population figure of 14,591 is 14% higher than in March 2022 and is the highest March figure in at least the last twenty years.

The untried prison population rose by 20% (to 9,746) when compared to the end of March 2022 whilst the convicted unsentenced population rose by 5% (to 4,845) over the same period.
Most of those in custody on remand were being held for either: violence against the person (30% of the untried population and 20% of the convicted unsentenced population); or drug offences (24% of the untried population and 33% of the convicted unsentenced population).

While white prisoners make up 74% of the sentenced population, they make up only 65% of the remand population. All other reported ethnic groups have a larger proportional representation in the remand population than they do in the sentenced population. You can see the trends in sentenced and remand prisoners in the chart reproduced further down this blog post.

Extended Determinate Sentences

EDS constitute a custodial term, 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. They are essentially a replacement for IPPs, providing the same long licence period but removing the indeterminate release date. On 31 March 2023, 7,366 prisoners were serving such sentences; an 11% increase compared to the same time last year. Prisoners serving EDS account for 9% of the total prison population.

Indeterminate sentences

On 31 March 2023, there were 8,505 (8,177 male; 328 female) prisoners serving indeterminate sentences (Imprisonment for Public Protection (IPP) and life sentences). This represents a slight overall decrease (-1%) when compared with 31 March 2022.

The number of unreleased prisoners (7,150) serving life sentences has increased by 1% compared to one year ago whereas the number of unreleased IPP prisoners fell by 13% to 1,355. At point of sentencing, offenders are given a minimum time period (“tariff”) that they must serve in prison before they can apply to the Parole Board for release. The majority (60%) of the remaining unreleased IPP prisoners have been held for at least nine years beyond the end of their tariff.

The number of recalled prisoners serving life sentences increased by 21% to 801 when compared to March 2022, whilst the number of recalled IPP prisoners saw a 12% increase to 1,561.

Recall to custody

The population recalled to custody (11,450 prisoners) has increased by 17% 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.


The total number of offenders on probation (i.e., court orders and pre/post-release supervision) at the end of December 2022 was 240,431. This represents a 1% increase compared to the end of December 2021 and an increase of 7% compared to December 2012.

The total number of offenders starting court order or pre-release supervision by the Probation Service in 2022 decreased by 7% to 136,754 compared with 2021, and this was primarily due to a 12% decrease in the number of offenders starting pre-release supervision.

Specifically, 59,324 community sentences were started in 2022, representing a decrease of 3% on the previous year. Following a similar trend, 31,997 SSOs with requirements were commenced in 2022, also down 3% on 2021.

You can see the caseload trends for the last three years in the chart below (the low figures in April-June 2020 align with the first coronavirus lockdown with most courts shut for business).


Thanks to Wynn Pointaux for kind permission to use the header image in this post which was previously published on Pixabay.

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On Probation
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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