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Commons Briefing Paper SN04334: UK Prison Population Statistics (currently being updated) explores prison population data for England and Wales in more depth and includes data for the rest of the UK.

Prison Population

As at 30 September 2017:

  • The total prison population was 85,997.

  • The most frequent length of sentence being served was a sentence over 4 years.
  • Violence against the person (VATP) offences accounted for the highest proportion (25%) of prisoners. Sexual, theft and drug offences each accounted for approximately 15% of the reason offenders were in prison.
  • There were just under 10,000 foreign nationals within the prison population. Those originating from the European Union (excluding the UK) accounted for 41% of all foreign nationals in prison and just under 5% of the total prison population.
  • As at October 2017, 67% (78) of prison establishments were overcrowded.

Prison Safety

In the 12 months to June 2017:

  • There were just over 27,000 prisoner assault incidents within prisons, a 14% increase the figure to June 2016.
  • There were 7,437 assaults on prison staff, 798 of which were serious. There was a rise of 25% from the twelve months ending June 2016.

  • There were over 41,103 self-harm incidents. This was an increase of 77% compared to the 12 months to June 2007 and an increase of 12% compared to the 12 months to June 2016.
  • In the 12 months to September 2017 there were 300 deaths of prisoners in custody. Around 63% of the deaths were through natural causes, 26% were self-inflicted, 10% were classed as other (including those awaiting for further information on cause of death) and 1% were the result of homicide.

  • The number of prisoner escapes has reduced since 1995/96 when 52 prisoners escaped. There were four KPI prisoner escapes in 2016/17 and two in 2015/16.

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