Keep up-to-date with drugs and crime

The latest research, policy, practice and opinion on our criminal justice and drug & alcohol treatment systems
Re-offending costs us £18.1 billion every year
New MoJ report on the economic and social costs of reoffending

Share This Post

In what was probably his last speech as Justice Secretary last week, David Gauke recommended his smart justice approach to whoever Boris Johnson appoints as his successor. A key part of Mr Gauke’s argument for an evidence-based approach to tackling crime was the figure of £18.1 billion which research published by the MoJ on the same day revealed as the annual societal costs of reoffending.

The Economic and Social Costs of Reoffending, authored by Alexander Newton, Xennor May, Steven Eames & Maryam Ahmad, estimates the costs of reoffending based on a cohort of offenders that had either been released from custody or had received a caution or non-custodial conviction between January to December 2016, and who then went on to reoffend over a 12-month follow-up period, as defined in the proven reoffending official statistics.

In addition to providing an overall figure for the costs of reoffending, the researchers analysed the costs of different types of offences broken down into three main categories of costs (also shown in the graphic below):

  1. Costs in anticipation of crime
  2. Costs as a consequence of crime
  3. Cost in response to crime.


The main findings of the report were:

  • The total estimated economic and social cost of reoffending was £18.1 billion.
  • The estimated economic and social cost of reoffending by adults was £16.7 billion.
  • Theft reoffences made up most of the estimated costs for adults compared to other offence groups, at £9.3 billion, followed by violence against the person reoffences, at £4.2 billion.
  • In terms of index disposal type, adult offenders who had previously received a court order or custodial sentence accounted for the largest portion of estimated costs, at £6.5 billion and £6.0 billion respectively.
  • The cost of reoffending by children and young people (i.e. those under the age of 18 at the time of entry into the cohort) was £1.5 billion, with theft comprising the largest portion compared to other offence groups, at £532 million.
  • Reoffences committed by children and young people who had previously received youth rehabilitation orders or first tier penalties as their index disposal type incurred most of the costs, at £510 million and £468 million respectively.
  • The cost of reoffences committed by adults who had previously received a custodial sentence of less than 12 months  was £5.0 billion whilst those who had served a sentence of 12 months or more cost £1.0 billion. The cost difference is primarily driven by the greater number of offenders receiving shorter sentences compared to those receiving a longer sentence. The equivalent costs for reoffending by children and young people were £52 million and £22 million respectively.


As well as the intrinsic interest of these figures, they are invaluable for people like myself who want to calculate cost benefit analyses of particular offences. For example the supplementary tables issues alongside the report enable us to calculate the total economic cost to society of an individual offence of robbery as  £11,907 comprising the following components:

Preventative measures £250; Harm £3760; Health Service costs £788; Insurance administration costs £149; lost economic output £997; police costs £1,053; loss of property £1073, victims’ services £11 and other criminal justice costs £3,827.

Any organisation which is looking to work with young robbers can seek to prove its impact and argue that every robbery it prevents saves the country nearly £12,000.

Share This Post

Related posts

Criminal Justice
What works in reducing young adults’ reoffending?

Professor McGuire makes it clear that conclusions can only be tentative given the small number of studies reviewed (there are many more research studies aimed at juvenile offenders, but far fewer targeted at the young adult age group). Nevertheless, there are some helpful critical success factors upon which to build more effective approaches:

6 Responses

  1. Hi Barbara
    Not as far as I know. The individual offence groups are broken down so someone could look at overall profile of women’s reoffending and calculate costs based on the types of crimes women commit and their reoffending rates. It wouldn’t be very scientific though and it would require a few days work. Alternatively, Women in Prison might have a figure…?

    Best Wishes

  2. Hi, Thanks for the article. I was just wondering whether these statistics (reoffending costs) have been published for other years? I am trying to find information in order to compare reoffending costs through the years.

    Many thanks.

    Best regards,


    1. Hi Mario
      This was the first update for many years, the previous edition will be referenced somewhere in the research document (to which there is a link in the article) but if I remember properly, it was more than 10 years earlier.
      Best Wishes

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Criminal Justice Posts are sponsored by Get the Data

Measuring Social Impact

Our cutting-edge approach to measurement and evaluation is underpinned by robust methods, rigorous analyses, and cost-effective data collection.

Proving Social Impact

Get the Data provides Social Impact Analytics to enable organisations to demonstrate their impact on society.


Get every blog post by email for free