Ministry of Justice statistical breakdown

News Release

24 July 2012

Ministry of Justice statistical breakdown

The Howard League for Penal Reform has conducted a review of the statistical information published today (24 July) by the Ministry of Justice which reveals that custodial sentences of less than 12 months were less effective at reducing re-offending than both community orders and suspended sentence orders – between five and nine percentage points in 2008.

  • The reoffending rate for those released from custody increased to 47.9 per cent- up 0.6 per cent on the previous 12 months
  • Reoffending rates for 45- 49 year olds went up by 4 per cent
  • Adults who received a custodial sentence of less than 12 months saw a rise of 3.1 per cent
  • Burglary convictions had the highest rise reoffending rates compared with 2010, up 48.4 per cent

Frances Crook, chief executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform said, “Short custodial sentences create more crime and are a costly and wasteful response to complex human problems that need solving. Upon arrival, prisoners on short sentences are handed their induction papers along with their release forms.”

Research conducted by the Howard League and the Prison Governors Association No Winners assessed the impact of short prison sentences and found that many prisoners felt that community sentences were more of a punishment because they 'put them out more' or that short prison sentences were 'easier to complete'. The majority of prisoners reported the day-to-day reality of serving a short prison sentence to be boring, leading to disillusionment and demotivation.

Prison staff members interviewed for the research saw the damaging impact short prison sentences could have on prisoners' lives, especially where men had lost homes, jobs and the imprisonment had led to family breakdown.

Other statistical information published by the Ministry of Justice shows that:


  • 70 per cent of children leaving of custody reoffend within a year
  • The total reoffending rate for all disposals for children was 34.8 per cent up 2.2 per cent on the previous 12 months, the biggest increase for children who received a community sentence (up 5.6 per cent)

Assaults in children’s prisons increased from 2010 to 2011:

                           2010   2011

Ashfield                526     1039   98% increase

Feltham                772     812     5% increase

Wetherby              470     573     22% increase

Hindley                 288     349     21% increase

Warren Hill            350     209     67% decrease

Werrington            175     188     7% increase

Parc                      396     403     2% increase

Cookham Wood     138     61       126% decrease

Andrew Neilson, director of campaigns at the Howard League for Penal Reform said, “Ashfield prison, which is run by Serco, continues to be dogged by allegations of discrimination, the overuse of segregation, restraint and the handing out of additional days to children as a punishment. Statistics now show that in addition to all of this the prison has suffered the highest number of assaults in the entire youth estate. The number of assaults has nearly doubled in one year and Ashfield accounted for nearly seven per cent of the total assaults for the entire prison system, both juvenile and adult.

“As a private prison, it would appear that Ashfield’s primary concern is to jail children for profit rather than ensure their safety. If Ashfield cannot provide a safe environment then this is bad news for all of us, as children will be released into our communities more accustomed to violence than ever.”

Highest reoffending rates from each Youth Offending Team were:

Merthyr Tydfil                              49.7%  

Islington                                     49.7%

Kingston upon Hull                       48%

Hammersmith and Fulham            47.5%

Darlington                                   46.7%

Frances Crook, chief executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform said, “It is depressing to see that nearly half of all children leaving some YOTs reoffend within a year. Children who end up in the criminal justice system have often led chaotic lives; have experienced poor parenting, neglect or abuse. The only way to prevent them turning into the harden criminals of the future is to see them as children first and to address their individual needs so we can turn their lives round.” 

Full stats at:



Total number of deaths has risen from 184 to 211

The death rate per 1000 prisoners has risen to 2.44 from 2.17


Total number of self-harm incidents was 24,648, down from 26,979

10,670 of these self-harm incidents were by children and young adults (15 - 24)

6 per cent of females self-harmed more than 20 times while in prison

23 per cent of self-harm incidents occurred within the first month in prison

Frances Crook, chief executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform said, “Considerable effort has gone into suicide prevention in the last decade and this has been reflected with proportionately fewer deaths in custody. We do know that a lot of people entering prison are not just at risk of self-harm and suicide, but may be extremely unwell and vulnerable after a lifetime (however short) of drug or alcohol abuse, precarious housing, poor diet and chaotic lifestyles with high levels of stress. There are still far too many mentally ill people in custody whose condition will only deteriorate in the prison environment.”       

Assaults across all prisons

Number of assaults rose by 1,101 from 14,356 to 15,457

Young people are more likely to be involved in violence: 15 - 20 year olds accounted for 11 per cent of the total prison population, but accounted for 59 per cent of all fights

There were 137 recorded sexual assaults


Juvenile/Young adults/ Adults


Total assaults






Juvenile /YA split site








Juvenile /YA/Male cat B



Glen Parva





YA/Cat B








Male local




Male local



Lancaster Farms








Frances Crook, chief executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform said, “Not all people sent to prison have committed violent offences, yet it is very easy to develop an indifference towards violence when you’re in there. I have heard prisoners say that barely a week goes by where you don’t see someone beaten up or hear about a prisoner being stabbed. In these conditions, it should come as no surprise that many people leave prison more damaged and dangerous than when they first went in.”


  • The remand population fell by 9 per cent on the year before to 11,324
  • The sentenced population rose by 2 per cent to 73,562
  • The greatest proportional increase came from the 4 year or more group (excluding indeterminate sentences) that was up 5 per cent to 25,484
  • The number of prisoners serving indeterminate sentences (either life or IPP) rose 1 per cent to 13,754
  • Of the indeterminate sentence population 44 per cent (6,078) were serving IPPs. Among those 3,531 (58 per cent) had passed their tariff expiry
  • The number of non-criminals in prison rose by 23 per cent to 1,162. 98 per cent of these were immigration detainees
  • The foreign national prisoner population was 10,861, accounting for 13 per cent of the prison population

Frances Crook, chief executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform said, “The IPP sentence was an ill-conceived and utterly flawed sentence and I am glad that the government has legislated to overturn it. However, this does not help the nearly 4,000 men in prison already over tariff, many of whom have no realistic prospect of release as they cannot get on the courses they need to in order to be released. People are left in a hellish position, never knowing when their prison sentence will end.

"Every week we cram hundreds more people into our already bulging jails, only for people to leave prison unchanged and to go back to crime. Prisons are awash with drugs, violence and arson and this is inflicted on local communities when people leave prison. The answer to rising prison populations is not to build more failing jails.

“This ceaseless growth in prison numbers is untenable and I implore the government to bite the bullet and find a strategic way to reduce the prison population by putting an end to short term prison sentences. A record prison high is a sign of failure, not success."

Notes to editors

Sophie Willett

020 7241 7866         ISDN: 020 7923 4196

Proven re-offending is defined as any offence committed in a one year follow-up period and receiving a court conviction, caution, reprimand or warning in the one year follow-up or within a further six month waiting period. This is referred to as a proven re-offence.