The Northern Ireland Prison Population 2018/19’ report published today

Date published: 27 September 2019

The Department of Justice (DoJ) today published ‘The Northern Ireland Prison Population 2018/19’ report. It is a National Statistics Publication.

Prison graphic

The report looks at the average daily prison population and the number of receptions into Northern Ireland prisons for the financial year 2018/19.  The key findings were as follows:

Average Daily Prison Population


  • The overall average daily prison population increased by 0.6% during 2018/19 to 1,448.  Males increased slightly from 1,382 to 1,384 while the female population increased from 57 to 65.
  • The remand population increased by 18.5% from 368 in 2017/18 to 436 this year and is at its highest level since reporting by financial year began in 2014/15.
  • The proportion of prisoners on remand has increased each year, rising from 23.3% during 2014/15 to 24.7% during 2015/16, 25.4% during 2016/17, 25.6% during 2017/18 and 30.1% during 2018/19.
  • During 2018/19 the average daily immediate custody prison population fell by 5.1% to 1,006, its lowest level since reporting by financial year began in 2014/15. 
  • Prisoners aged between 30 to 39 years of age made up the largest proportion of the average daily immediate custody prison population (32.9%).  In each of the previous four financial years, the age group 21 to 29 years had accounted for the largest number of prisoners.
  • The proportion of those aged between 18 and 20 years of age has decreased each year since 2014/15, accounting for 2.9% of the total population during 2018/19.
  • In terms of custodial sentence length, the average daily population decreased in all sentence categories, compared to last year, except for those serving a life sentence and those serving a sentence of three months or less, both of which reported slight increases (up from 156 to 158 and 26 to 28 respectively).
  • Violence Against the person offences continue to account for the largest proportion of all principal offence categories (33.6%).


  • The number of receptions during 2018/19 was higher than the previous year, 5,252 compared to 5,092 during 2016/17, an increase of 3.1%.
  • Remand receptions increased by 15.1% over the last year, up from 2,786 during 2017/18 to 3,206 during 2018/19.
  • The number of receptions for fine default (where the individual was received into custody solely for fine default offences) decreased by 39.3%, from 611 in 2017/18 to 371 in 2018/19. 
  • The largest number of immediate custody receptions was recorded within the 21 to 29 years age group, accounting for 634 (39.2%) of receptions. 
  • A larger proportion of female receptions were sentenced to a custody sentence length of one year or less (90.3%) compared to males (77.2%).
  • Both Public Order offences and Violence Against the Person offences accounted for 17.9% of immediate custody receptions (290 and 289 receptions respectively). 

Notes to editors: 

1.  This report presents information on the average daily prison population and the number of receptions into Northern Ireland Prisons for the financial year 2018/19.   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.  Further information on the report is available at Justice NI/publications  or by contacting Analytical Services Group, Block B, Castle Buildings, Stormont Estate, Upper Newtownards Road, Belfast, BT4 3SG


4.  Press queries about this publication should be directed to the DOJ Press Office on telephone number 028 9052 6444.

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