Prison Population to Increase

Prison Population To Increase

This bulletin presents prison population projections for England and Wales from August 2017 to March 2022. It is produced to aid policy development, capacity planning and resource allocation within the criminal justice system (CJS) and Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service (HMPPS).

Main Points

An increase in the prison population is forecast over the horizon to March 2022.


The prison population is projected to remain stable in the period to June 2019, but then to increase to 1,600 places above the current level in March 2022.

Projected population growth concentrated in offenders sentenced to longer sentences.


Growth in the determinate sentenced population is expected due to recent trends in offender case mix, with more serious cases coming before the courts resulting in longer custodial sentences. This increase is outweighing decline in indeterminate sentenced population, following abolition of IPP sentences in 2012.

2017 projection higher than 2016 projection


The higher projection reflects increases in custody rates and sentence lengths for indictable offences offsetting declines in numbers of offenders sentenced. There has also been growth in the remand population above expected levels.

Over 50, over 60 and over 70 year old populations are projected to rise


The rise is driven by the recent increase in the number of longer sentences for these. These increases are predominantly driven by prior shifts in the offence mix of prisoners flowing into prison – specifically increases in sexual offending.

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