HL Deb 04 December 1990 vol 524 c3WA
Lord Windlesham

asked Her Majesty's Government:

(a) What was the total prison population in England and Wales (including those on remand and in police cells) in September 1987; (b) what long-term forecasts were made at the time of the future size of the prison population; (c) how the forecasts have been borne out since 1987; and (d) in what month and year have the highest and lowest totals been recorded since 1985.

The Minister of State, Home Office (Earl Ferrers)

On 30th September 1987, the prison population, including those in police cells, was 48,200. The projections used for planning purposes at that time were those published in the Public Expenditure White Paper 1988 (Cmnd. 288-II). The long-term projections are revised and published annually in a Home Office Statistical Bulletin, copies of which are available in the Libraries of the House.

Up to 1989–90 the population was within 1,300 of the projection in use in September 1987. The population at the end of September 1990 was 45,500; this was lower than projected, reflecting both the substantial fall in the prison population which began at the end of 1988 and government measures to divert offenders from custody, as described in Updated projections of long-term trends in the prison population to 1998 (Home Office Statistical Bulletin 33/90, issued 24th October 1990):

  1. (a) changes in the mode of trial for certain offences in the Criminal Justice Act 1988;
  2. (b) the new sentencing structure for young offenders in the Criminal Justice Act 1988;
  3. (c) other measures, including probation service action plans targeted at young adult offenders, the expansion of bail information schemes and the number of bail hostel places.

Once allowance has been made for normal seasonal movements, the highest prison population since 1985, including those in police cells, occurred at the end of both June and July 1987 (50,300) and the lowest was at the end of January 1985 (44,400).