UK prisoners ratio second only to US amongst G7 countries

As a new report calls on the prison population to be cut by a third, figures reveal Britain is second only to the US in its prisoners-per-population ratio.

The cross-party Justice Committee today published a report calling for the prison population to be cut by a third, and the extent of British prisons policy is highlighted by the international context.

The eighth edition of the World Prison Population List, produced by King’s College London’s International Centre for Prison Studies, which details the number of prisoners per 100,000 of the population, shows the UK (153) entrenched in second place amongst G7 countries, behind only the USA (756). The UK is also ahead of Turkey (142), Burma (126) and Pakistan (55).

The Justice Committee’s report prioritises the transfer of female prisoners, repeat low-level offenders, drug and alcohol addicts and prisoners will mental illnesses, urging rehabilitation closer to the communities to which they struggle to return.

The Ministry of Justice, however, is working on a £4.2bn prison building plan which, at £170,000 per place, is set to propel the United Kingdom past most of our Eastern European neighbours. Numbers fluctuate but in 16 years the United Kingdom, with an imprisonment rate of 153 per 100,000 of the population, has become the top incarcerator in Western Europe.

This despite the reduction in crimes recorded over the past ten years, and the Government’s expansion of the role of community punishments. Neither has translated into an effective reduction in the prison population, rather the prison population has kept up with prison building, a market judged by Premier Custodial Group to be worth £2 billion annually, with immediate market opportunities worth a further £3.4 billion now in the offing.

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