Weekly Prison Watch

Latest prison population figures

Week ending Friday 20 May 2016

This week there are 85,335 people in prisons and young offender institutions in England and Wales. The male prison population is 81,529 and the female prison population is 3,806.

There are 10 fewer people in prison than last week, and 409 fewer people compared to this time last year.

The child custody population at the end of February 2016 was 877. This is a decrease of 44 since the last month and a fall of 111 compared to the same point last year.

The current CNA level is 77,004 meaning that 8,331 men and women are being held above this level. CNA (Certified Normal Accommodation) is the prison service’s own measure of how many prisoners can be held in decent and safe accommodation.

5 most overcrowded prisons

Prison name               

CNA / Population

Number over CNA

% of CNA

Kennet (HMPS)

175 / 388



Leeds (HMPS)

669 / 1,129



Preston (HMPS)

455 / 755



Swansea (HMPS)

268 / 444



Wandsworth (HMPS)

943 / 1,568



Latest quarterly figures

The most recent set of Ministry of Justice statistics show that on 31 March 2016 there were:

  • 10,066 men and women held on remand in prison
  • 6,435 people are serving short sentences (less than 12 months)
  • 4,133 people are held on the now abolished indeterminate IPP sentences, of whom 3,330 (81 per cent) have passed their tariff expiry date

And that in the 12 months ending December 2015:

  • There were 93,722 first receptions into custody
  • 29,962 people were sent to prison to serve a short sentence (less than 12 months)

Week by week prison population breakdown

A week by week breakdown from 2004 onwards.

Deaths in custody 2015

In 2015 there were 257 deaths in custody: 

  • 146 people died of natural causes
  • 89 deaths were self-inflicted
  • 8 homicides
  • 14 deaths are yet to be classified

Report on deaths in custody in 2015

The Howard League routinely monitors all deaths in prisons. We have joined with a number of organisations to sign a letter to the Prime Minister, led by the charity Sense in Science, to raise awareness about the late registration of cause of death following a death requiring an inquest; there are still some deaths in prison dating back to 2010.


This update uses the most recent version of the following publications: