Custody and Prison Statistics

In Britain, criminology arose so indecisively and fitfully that its history can not be purveyed easily in a coherent manner. Hermann Mannheims forty year old account of its loosely connected stages remains as serviceable as any (Maguire et al, 2007). Maguire, (2007) postulates that statistics can not merely be simplified as tables, formulae, sets of techniques or numbers. On the contrary, statistics is an approach that enables the analyst to understand the world and how it operates. Despite this fact, the said world is a complex phenomenon whereupon there is no easy and quick way of comprehending it. To Maguire, if everything appears to be in black and white, perhaps one has misunderstood the issue under consideration (Maguire, 2007).

This paper will assess various crime levels as well as trends and patterns and how these are measured. This vary from what appears to be straightforward empirical and methodological questions for instance, how much crime is present, how is this crime revealed and how does it change to more political and sociological questions regarding the relationship between the types of crime statistics that are recorded and published. On the other hand, these sociological and political questions carry with them the changing developments in the criminal justice system as well as the perceptions of the nature of crime problem together with the politics of crime control.

Interpreting Custody and Prison Statistics

As on 31st December 2008, the population in custody stood at 82,023. This was a 2 increase from the 2007 statistics. In the same year (2008), prison population was 81,636 while that in Securing Training Centres (STCS) was 214. Secure Children Homes had 173 children in custody.

The male prison population grew by three percent to stand at 77,435 while the population of female prisoners dropped by the same percentage to 4,201. The remand population in prison grew by six percent standing at 13,010 inmates in December 2008. The population of untried prisoners within this total grew by eight percent to 8,591 while that of un-sentenced prisoners who had been convicted grew by 4 percent to stand at 4,419. The largest percentage increase amongst remand population since 2007 was exhibited in sexual, burglary and other offences by fourteen, twenty one and twelve percent respectively. There were decreases in fraud and forgery as well as motoring and drug offences which recorded drops by 9, 18 and five percentage points respectively. As of 31st December 2008, there were 66,930 sentenced prisoners. This indicated a two percent increase compared to the previous year. Since December 2007 the largest proportionate increase was recorded among prisoners serving indeterminate sentences (Indeterminate and life sentences). This grew by fifteen percent.

Fraud and forgery, sexual offences as well as violence against the person amongst the sentenced prison population exhibited the greatest increases with eight, five and five percent respectively from December 2007. Since December 2007, the number of inmates serving motoring offences decreased by 17. Population of adults in prison as at 31st December 2008 stood at 70,067. Compared to 2007, this was a three percent increase. Over the same period, there was a 2 increase among 15 to 17 year olds which stood at 2,227 while the population of young adult prisoners was 9,342.

 Foreign national prison population as of 31st December 2008 was 11, 283. This population is inclusive of prisoners held on remand as well as those in custody under the Immigration Act together with those serving custodial sentences. Most of the foreign prisoners were Jamaicans who stood at 1,105 prisoners. Jamaica was followed closely by Nigeria that had 881, Ireland (620) and China (482). Other countries with notable populations include Somalia (445), Vietnam (465) and Poland (445).
Population in Custody by Type and Sex

2007 December2008 December2007 December2008 DecemberMalesMales FemalesFemalesPrisons752757743543304201prison Cells0000SCHs1652144934STCs14624810275

Population in custody by age group, December 2008  on remand ,                 under-sentence  or  non-criminal .
All Adult Population15 - 17 Yr Olds in PrisonYoung Adults in PrisonRemandUntried70233581210Convicted un-sentenced3524148747Under SentenceFine Defaulter10003Less than or Equal to 6 Months34767685Greater than 6 months to less than 12 Months1858739012 months to less than four years190642238024 years or more2235621662Indeterminate Sentences112022716Non-criminal prisoners14640126

RemandImmediate Custodial SentenceMaleFemaleMaleFemaleViolence against the person306118018579816Sexual Offences87612773947Robbery1283628495329Burglary1486617534202Theft and Handling 9311152909348Fraud and Forgery434701697221Drug Offences15471439845888Motoring Offences1253104217Other Offences17191495670361Offence not Recorded6757717418

Population in Prison by Type of Offence Dec 2008

RemandImmediate Custodial SentenceAll Adult PopulationAll 15 - 17 Yr OldsAll Young AdultsAll Adult PopulationAll 15 - 17 Yr OldsAll Young AdultsViolence against the person256515116745484Sexual Offences7823572736183341Robbery85611237665924711761Burglary1208882516539258938Theft and Handling 868411372841123293Fraud and Forgery4722301868447Drug Offences146525200988384765Motoring Offences10122592920110Other Offences1558462635040187804Offence not Recorded671378158429

Population Changes in Prison by Type of Offence Dec 07  Dec 08

Type of OffencePercentage in RemandType of OffencePercentage of Immediate Custodial SentenceBurglary21Fraud and Forgery8Sexual Offences14Violence against the person5Other Offences12Sexual Offences5Theft and Handling10Robbery3Robbery7Drug Offences1Violence against the Person5Burglary0Offence not Recorded2Other Offences-1Drug Offences-5Theft and Handling-8 Fraud and Forgery-9Motoring Offences-17Motoring Offences-18Offence not Recorded-38
v. Ratio of Females to Males

Total Population  82023
Males 77713
Females 4310
H 118

Percentage of all Prisoners Sentenced to an Immediate Custodial Sentence for Violence against the person

All Prisoners under Immediate Custodial  65737
Prisoners under Immediate Custodial Sentence for Violence against the person  18407
If 65737 100
            18407  100     28

The Percentage of All Young Prisoners Sentenced to an Immediate Custodial Sentence for Violence Against the Person.

All Young Adults Sentenced to an Immediate Custodial Sentence  7255
All Young Prisoners Sentenced to an Immediate Custodial Sentence for Violence Against the Person  2167

7255  100
          2167  100  29.869

The Percentage of All Prisoners aged 15  17 Sentenced to an Immediate Custodial Sentence for Violence against the person

All Prisoners aged 15  17 Sentenced to an Immediate Custodial Sentence  1719

All Prisoners aged 15  17 Sentenced to an Immediate Custodial Sentence for Violence against the person  484

If 1719  100
   484  100  28.16
(C) Discussion

Overall Pattern of People in Custody
As by December 2008, there were 77,713 males in custody.  This was a 3 percent increase from the previous year (2007). High crime rates among males can be attributed to rising unemployment whereupon the said males are embrace illegal means for survival. These growths can also be attributed to falling morals in the society as well as reluctant law enforcement agencies that are charged with curbing crime rates. In response, the government ought to formulate policies that tighten loose ends and thus enable a lawful society. Additionally, the government can also provide jobs for the jobless and lawless individuals. Within this same period the crime rate among women witnessed a 4 drop. This indicates that policies formulated to cut down female lawlessness are working. As such, the government should continue funding these policies to extend the percentage drop. Secure Childrens Homes (SCHs) as well as Secure Training Centres (STCs) also witnessed significant drops. This low numbers within these two institutions should not be solely interpreted as positive trends as they might imply a government state agencies reluctance to enroll more individuals in these programs.

Overall Pattern of People in custody by type of Prisoner
Among males, in 2008, there was a three percent increase while females had a decrease by the same percentage margin. The percentage of males in remand grew by 6 compared to 2007 while their female counterparts increased by 5. Among these, 8034 males and 557 women were untried. The increase certainly indicates a strain on national justice systems resources which are unable to match the backlog of cases manifested with the increase thus the holding of prisoners without trial. This is further indicated by the convicted prisoners that are yet to be sentenced. In the same period of 2008, prisoners under sentence witnessed increases under three categories. These are fine defaulters (28), indeterminate sentences (15) and 12 months -  4 years. The fine defaults could be attributed to the slow state of the economy where prisoners are unable to raise the prescribed fine or bail. There also were decreases among prisoners serving e 6 months (-5),  6 12 months (-3) and 4 years or more.

Official statistics establish the prime age of recorded offending for females is 15 while for males the age is placed at 18 for males (Home Office, 2004). According to the statistics, juvenile offences by females are primarily restricted to moderately minor offences. Additionally, the gender gap amongst 1517-year-olds tends to be small for stolen goods, theft and handling as well as assault (Home Office, 2004).

Any attempts to assess trends in either the treatment of girls and young women or offending female youth by the criminal justice system are hindered by major difficulties of interpreting available evidence. Differences within categories of offence can also misrepresent the general picture of female offending. A good example to cite is violence against the person which indicates anything from playground fight to a serious offence as murder. Additionally, small baseline numbers can denote that even little variations or changes may appear dramatic in terms of percentage.

Under the statistical classification of population by type of offence, the most significant positive change in 2008 is in the motoring offences category. This category witnessed an 18 percent drop for its remand prisoners while immediate custodial sentences witnessed a 17 percent drop. This major decline can be attributed to various factors including sound traffic civil education and improved infrastructure (roads, traffic signs). While traffic offences faired on well, burglary and sexual offences on the other hand increased with 21 and 14 for remand and 0 and 5  increases for immediate custodial sentences respectively. Increase of burglary cases can be attributed to lack of security measures on the victims side, reduced police vigilance, as well as new complex methods by burglars.
(D) Conclusion

A primary factor that can be cited to give credit to the methodological models of statistical analysis evident in this paper is how the methods remain valid to provide credible solutions to research problems regarding crime. Researchers seek to come up with research strategies that are able to reach conclusions that are as valid as possible to the research problem (Jupp et al, 2006). Here, there are two aspects regarding validity of data collection that call for exemplification. Firstly is the fact that research conclusions remain credible for their respective cases in time and context of the investigation. As such the conclusions drawn from research can neither be wrong nor right but on the contrary they remain either strongly credible or less credible. Out of the tendencies that can be drawn from the numbers, the resulting conclusions can be said to be internally drawn and thus strongly credible. For instance, if the researcher concludes that traffic police in Britain have become reluctant, the statements validity can be judged from the rise in traffic offences.

A second aspect that regards validity is the ability of statistical data to generalize conclusions presumed at the end of a research (data collection) to other cases time periods as well as contexts (Jupp et al, 2006). The extent, to which this remains credible as such, is the extent to which the derived conclusions are presumed externally valid. External validity is dependent on cases time and contexts forming part of research design as it has typicality as well as representatives.
The hall mark of statistical analysis of crime data is the inherent ability of research decisions comprising the process of statistical data analysis to anticipate validitys potential threats.
Crime statistics are also absolutely critical as they provide a basis for credible quantitative measurements of criminal trends as well as activities. This enables parliament to carry out its democratic mandate whereupon it can hold the sitting administration of the day accountable for this aspect with regard to the state of the nation. This is especially critical as sitting governments can term credible allegations by the opposition (the public watch-dog) as mere political campaigns or cheap shots endeared towards gaining cheap political mileages. With the statistics as the foundation of given allegations, the said allegations are given credibility whereupon the government is forced to respond appropriately.

Crime statistics are also important as they keep the public as well as the media, relevant special interest groups together with the academe informed about the state of crime in Britain. This enables the said groups to access data consequently informing non-governmental research agendas as well as wider debate.


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