The Department of Justice (DOJ) today published Research and Statistical Bulletin 27/2017 ‘The Northern Ireland Prison Population 2016 and 2016/17’. It is a National Statistics Publication.
The bulletin looks at the average daily prison population and the number of receptions into Northern Ireland Prisons for the calendar year 2016 and also for the financial year 2016/17. The key findings were as follows:
Average Daily Prison Population
- For the second year in a row the average daily prison population fell; from 1,661 in 2015 to 1,482 in 2016.
- The fall in prison population was evident across all three prison establishments.
- The remand population continued to fall for its fifth successive year (-2.8% to a level of 387), albeit at a slower rate than seen previously.
- For the second year in succession, the average daily immediate custody prison population fell, from 1,255 in 2015 to 1,084 in 2016 (-13.6%).
- Fine defaulters (7) and non-criminal (immigrant detainee) (4) prisoners continue to account for only a small percentage of the overall population (0.5% and 0.3% respectively).
- The male average daily prison population fell by 11.0% (177) from 2015 to 2016, whilst the female population remained at much the same level, 56 in 2015 compared to 54 in 2016.
- The largest proportion of the average daily immediate custody prison population was aged between 21 and 29 years (33.9%), however the proportion in this age group is continuing its downward trend (39.5% in 2013, 38.0% in 2014 and 35.1% in 2015).
- Custodial sentences of 1 year or under accounted for 25.5% of immediate custody prisoners, whilst those serving life sentences accounted for 14.8%.
- The decrease in the average daily immediate custody prison population from 2015 to 2016 was evident across all offence categories bar one – namely Possession of Weapons Offences, which only increased by 1.
- The largest proportion of principal offences was classified as Violence Against the Person Offences; with 35.8% in this category.
- For the first time since 2012, total prison receptions increased; from 4,757 in 2015 to 5,199 in 2016, an increase of 9.3%.
- Over one half of all receptions during 2016 were for remand (54.7%), and for the first time in five years, the number of remand receptions increased in 2016 from 2,633 to 2,843.
- Immediate custody prison receptions increased slightly in 2016 (0.7% from 1,644 to 1,655), and accounted for almost 32.0% of all receptions, whereas in 2015 they accounted for 34.6%, this change in proportion was significant.
- For the second year in a row the number of fine default receptions increased, from 456 in 2015 to 627 in 2016, however fine default prisoners still continue to account for only a small percentage of the average daily prison population (0.5%).
- The number of Non-Criminal (immigrant detainee) receptions increased from 24 to 74 from 2015 to 2016.
- Receptions for both males and females increased; male receptions increased from 4,423 to 4,786, whilst female receptions increased from 334 to 413.
- Those aged between 21 and 29 years of age had the largest number of immediate custody receptions (44.6%).
- The proportion of immediate custody receptions for those aged 40 to 49 in 2016 was significantly lower than the proportion in 2015 (14.3% and 11.3% respectively).
- Sentences of 1 year and under accounted for the largest proportion of sentenced receptions for both total sentence and total custody sentence (66.2% and 76.6% respectively).
- The largest offence category for immediate custody receptions during 2016 was that of Public Order Offences, accounting for 20.8%, closely followed by Violence against the Person Offences which accounted for 20.0%.
- Public Order Offences was the only offence grouping in which the change in the share of immediate custody receptions between 2015 and 2016 was significant (20.8% in 2016 compared with 17.5% in 2015).
- During 2015 Northern Ireland had 87 prisoners for every 100,000 people in the population; while the equivalent figure for Scotland was 143, England and Wales was 148 and the Republic of Ireland was 80.
- Northern Ireland had 21 pre-trial/remand prisoners for every 100,000 people in the population, whilst this rate was higher than both the Republic of Ireland (13) and England and Wales (16) it was lower than Scotland (25).
Notes to editors:
This bulletin presents information on the average daily prison population and the number of receptions into Northern Ireland Prisons for the calendar year 2016 and the financial year 2016/17. It is a National Statistics Publication.
National Statistics are produced in accordance with the Code of Practice for National Statistics. They undergo regular quality assurance reviews to ensure that they meet customer needs and are produced free from any political interference. They are also subject to restrictions in terms of pre-release access.
View the bulletin or alternatively contact Analytical Services Group, Laganside House, Oxford Street, Belfast BT1 3LA
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