Prisons in Parliament – 3 August 2015

An ageing population and absconding from open prisons 

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Prisons in Parliament brings you up-to-date on the last week of politics and prisons. What’s been said? And by whom? Find out here…

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An ageing prison population 

Lord Harris of Haringey (Labour) asked what projections the government has made of the future age profile of the prison population.

Lord Faulks (Conservative) said Lord Harris would have to wait until November for an answer when a new Ministry of Justice report with annual projections of the prison population is published.

The next report will include tables showing projections for populations aged over 50 years and over 60 years oldRead the full response here.

In context

People aged 60 and over are the fastest growing age group in the prison estate according to the latest Bromley Briefing by the Prison Reform Trust.

The number of prisoners aged 60 and over rose by 164 per cent between 2002 and 2015 as the chart below shows. People aged 50 and over currently make up 14 per cent of the prison population.

The over-50s in prison have been growing fast since 2002. Source: Prison Reform Trust

The over-50s in prison have been growing fast since 2002. Source: Prison Reform Trust

On 31 March 2014 there were 102 people in prison aged 80 and over. Five people in prison were 90 or older.

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Absconding from open prisons  

Philip Davies (Conservative, Shipley) asked how many prisoners currently in open prisons have previously absconded or failed to return to prison and breached the conditions of their temporary licence.

Shailesh Vara, The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice, said there has been a 39 per cent drop in the number of temporary release failures – the lowest rate since 2002.

Since May 2014, prisoners with a history of escape, absconding or serious temporary release failure during their current sentence are prevented from transfer to open conditions, other than in the most exceptional circumstances. Some prisoners were transferred from open to closed prisons under this new policy.

Mr Vara said that the absconding rate has reached record lows also. On 31 March 2015, there were 4,023 prisoners recorded as being in open prisons. Of these, 17 were recorded as having absconded between 1 April 2004 and 30 May 2014.

Read the full response here.

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Claims for compensation and the Human Rights Act 

Mr Davies also pushed the issue of claims for compensation by prisoners that he asked about last week also

He asked the Secretary of State for Justice if he will make an assessment of the effect on claims for compensation by prisoners after the coming into force of the Human Rights Act 1998.

Andrew Selous, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice, said that data is not available, but the government is making an assessment of the costs of the Human Rights Act, including how it might have driven compensation claims more generally.

Read the full response here.



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