Weekly Prison Watch

Latest prison population figures

Week ending Friday 20 November 2015

This week there are 85,977 people in prisons and young offender institutions in England and Wales. The male prison population is 82,042 and the female prison population is 3,935.

There are 16 fewer people in prison than last week, and 52 more people compared to this time last year.

The child custody population at the end of September 2015 was 981. This an increase of 10 since the last month and a fall of 72 compared to the same point last year.

There are 32 girls in custody.

The current CNA level is 77,532 meaning that 8,445 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 / 317



Leeds (HMPS)

669 / 1,166



Wandsworth (HMPS)

943 / 1,577



Swansea (HMPS)

271 / 442




318 / 511



Latest quarterly figures

The most recent set of Ministry of Justice statistics show that on 30 June 2015 there were:

  • 11,785 men, women and children are held on remand in prison
  • 6,279 people are serving short sentences (less than 12 months)
  • 4,614 people are held on the now abolished indeterminate IPP sentences, of whom 3,532 (77 per cent) have passed their tariff expiry date

And that between January and March 2015:

  • There were 25,555 first receptions into custody
  • 10,641 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 the first six months of 2015 there were 123 deaths in custody: 

  • 70 people died of natural causes
  • 43 deaths were self-inflicted
  • 5 homicides
  • 5 deaths are yet to be classified

Report on deaths in custody in 2014

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: