'The Northern Ireland Prison Population 2017/18' published today

Date published: 26 September 2018

The Department of Justice (DoJ) today published Research and Statistical Bulletin 26/2018 ‘The Northern Ireland Prison Population 2017/18’. 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 financial year 2017/18.  The key findings were as follows:

Average Daily Prison Population

The overall average daily prison population fell by 2.2% during 2017/18 to 1,439, males decreased by 2.5% to 1,382 while the female population increased from 54 to 57.

Since reporting by financial year began (2014/15), the remand population has fallen, however it has done so at a decreasing yearly rate (-6.2%, -4.8% and -1.6%).

During 2017/18 the average daily immediate custody prison population fell by 2.3% to 1,060, the lowest decrease since 2014/15. 

Prisoners aged between 21 to 29 years of age continue to make up the largest proportion of the average daily immediate custody prison population (32.9%), however the proportion this represents has been falling (37.6% during 2014/15).

The proportion of those aged between 30 and 39 years of age has been increasing, 26.2% during 2014/15 to 31.5% during 2017/18.

In terms of custodial sentence length, the number serving greater than 3 months and less than or equal to 12 months increased from a daily average of 264 during 2016/17 to 286 during 2017/18.

Violence against the person offences continue to account for the largest proportion of all principal offence categories (34.7%).

The decrease in the average daily immediate custody prison population from 2016/17 to 2017/18 was not evident across all offence categories, the following saw their numbers increase: misc. sexual, robbery, theft, motoring offences and fraud.

Receptions

The number of receptions during 2017/18 was lower than the previous year, 5,092 compared to 5,257 during 2016/17, a decrease of 3.1%.

Remand receptions remained stable, 2,790 during 2016/17 and 2,786 during 2017/18, whereas the number of immediate custody prison receptions decreased from 1,729 to 1,619.

Only two age groups saw an increase in receptions; those aged between 30 and 39 years (+15) and those aged 60+ (+5).

A larger proportion of female receptions were sentenced to a custody sentence length of six months or less (69.2%) compared to males (50.5%).

The number of female receptions sentenced to less than or equal to three months custody doubled from 2016/17 to 2017/18 (17 to 34), and the proportion this accounted for increased from 16.2% to 29.1% with the increase in proportions being significant.

Public order offences accounted for the largest proportion of male receptions (21.6%), while theft offences accounted for the largest proportion of female offences (29.9%).

The only offence category in which the change in the share of immediate custody receptions from the previous year was significant was drug offences, falling from 11.6% to 8.8%.

Notes to editors: 

  1. This bulletin presents information on the average daily prison population and the number of receptions into Northern Ireland Prisons for the financial year 2017/18.   It is a National Statistics Publication.
  2. 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.
  3. The bulletin will be available in PDF format from either the DOJ web-site (www.justice-ni.gov.uk) or Analytical Services Group, Block B, Castle Buildings, Stormont Estate, Upper Newtownards Road, Belfast, BT4 3SG Email: statistics.research@justice-ni.x.gsi.gov.uk.
  4. All media enquiries should be directed to the Department of Justice Press Office on 028 9052 6444. Out of office hours please contact the duty press officer on 028 9037 8110

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