House of Commons Library

UK Prison Population Statistics

Published Thursday, April 20, 2017

This briefing paper explores prison population data for the UK from the Ministry of Justice, Scottish Government, and the Northern Ireland Department of Justice.

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This briefing paper explores prison population data for the UK from the Ministry of Justice, Scottish Government, and the Northern Ireland Department of Justice. Figures are published separately for each of the three jurisdictions; England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. International comparisons are also made. Where possible, time series data is given in the Appendix tables.

As at Friday 31st March 2017, the total prison population in England and Wales was just over 85,500. In Scotland the prison population was just under 7,700 as in the 2015/16 annual report (latest data). For the 2015/16 financial year the total average daily prison population was just under 1,600 in Northern Ireland.

There is a general underlying trend of an increasing number of people held in prison. The prison population of England & Wales rose by about 90% between 1990 and 2016, an average rise of 3.5% per annum. In Scotland this increase was 62%. Between 2000 and 2015/16 the prison population of Northern Ireland increased by 49%.

Percentage change in prison population, England & Wales and Scotland

Percentage change in prison population, England & Wales and Scotland

 

Key Statistics

England & Wales:

  • At the end of March 2016, the total prison population was 85,441
  • At 31st March 2017, the total prison population in England and Wales was just over 85,500

Scotland:

  • The prison population was just under 7,700 as in the 2015/16 annual report
  • At 17 March 2017 there were just under 7,500 prisoners (excluding Home Detention Curfew) in custody

Northern Ireland:

  • For the 2015/16 financial year, the total average daily prison population was just under 1,600

 

Commons Briefing papers SN04334

Authors: Grahame Allen; Christopher Watson

Topic: Prisons

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