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The latest research, policy, practice and opinion on our criminal justice and drug & alcohol treatment systems

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Why has crime fallen?

New analysis undertaken by the report’s authors idntified the ageing population, changes in income and decreased alcohol consumption as factors reducing crime.A review of past research indicated that consumer confidence and inflation also seem to have contributed to crime reduction.


Which countries imprison the most people?

As you can see, Britain (this chart averages rates for England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland) imprisons substantially more people (147 per 100,000) than the OECD norm of 115. I have to confess to being surprised that New Zealand is such a punitive society.


Reducing imprisonment AND crime

Over recent years most US states have reduced the amount they use incarceration (driven in great part by economic concerns) and have found that crime rates have gone down. Indeed, as this infographic from the Pew Foundation shows, those states which have cut the use of imprisonment have seen their crime rates fall further than those that haven’t:


Crime pays for private prisons

The infographic below shows what big business private prisons have become in the USA. As you can see, the number of private prisons has grown exponentially in the last 20 years.

Alcohol & Drugs

We still imprison too many people for using drugs

You can see from the table that 281 people were sent to prison for possessing a Class C drug (Anabolic steroids, benzodiazepines, GHB, GBL, piperazines (BZP), and khat) despite having no previous convictions and a further 212 who had just one previous – bear in mind that 30% of British men have a criminal conviction by the age of 30.

On Probation

Fewer criminals but more prisoners

This latest set of MoJ statistics adds power to the recent argument made by Professor Sean McConville (With Lois Blom-Cooper) that if we really want prison reform, we have to sideline politicians and have a Royal Commission.

On Probation

What will happen to the prison population under Transforming Rehabilitation?

One of the key changes under the Offender Rehabilitation Bill currently working its way through Parliament is that short term prisoners will receive mandatory supervision on release. Although this development is broadly welcomed, one of the consequences will be that some of these prisoners will not comply with supervision and therefore will be breached and returned to prison. The recently updated impact assessment of the Offender Rehabilitation Bill estimated that 13,000 short term prisoners will be returned to prison because they will breach the new mandatory period of supervision on release. I can see two other factors which will drive up the custody rate…


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