2 Women in Custody
[Supplementary tables A2, B2 and M1]
The (average daily) population of women continued to fall in 2021-22, reducing by around 5% from 301 to 284. By contrast, the population of men increased by around 3% between 2020-21 and 2021-22, rising from 7,037 to 7,220. Women comprised just 4% of the average daily prison population in 2021-22.
As with the population overall, these changes varied by legal status category. Figure 8 shows that the sentenced population of women fell by 7% from 213 in 2020-21 to 198 in 2021-22, with the untried (-4) and convicted awaiting sentence (CAS, +2) populations remaining broadly stable over the same period.
In contrast, Figure 9 shows that between 2020-21 and 2021-22 the men’s sentenced population remained broadly stable (-46), while the men’s untried population increased by 14% from 1,317 to 1,507. The men’s CAS population remained broadly stable (+39) between 2020-21 and 2021-22.
As a share of their respective populations, the proportion of women on remand has consistently exceeded that of men. In both populations, the proportion on remand rose again between 2020-21 and 2021-22: for men that proportion increased from 22% to 25%, while for women it increased from 28% to 30%.
2.1 Index offence groups
[Supplementary table M2]
There was a 7% overall reduction in the (average daily) population of sentenced women, from 213 in 2020-21 to 198 in 2021-22.
On the average day in 2021-22, 63% of women in the sentenced population had index offences in Group 1 (Violence). 13% were in Group 5 (Crimes against society) and 11% in Group 3 (Crimes of dishonesty).
Compared to the previous year, there was a small increase in the population with index sentences in Group 1 (Violence) – from 122 to 125 on the average day – and Group 6 (Anti-social offences) – from 4 to 8 on the average day. Across other offence groups populations fell slightly or remained stable (see Figure 10).
The population of women serving sentences for index Group 3 (Dishonesty) and 5 (Crimes against society) index offences have more than halved from pre-pandemic levels. Group 3 index offence populations fell from 55 in 2019-20 to 23 (around 11% of sentenced women) in 2021-22, while Group 5 index offence populations fell from 59 to 25 (around 13% of sentenced women).
The women’s sentenced population is increasingly comprised of those serving sentences for Group 1 (Violence) offences. In 2019-20, 49% of the sentenced population of women were serving sentences for index Group 1 (Violence). In 2020-21 this proportion increased to 57%, further increasing to 63% in 2021-22.
2.2 Index sentences
[Supplementary table M3]
Figure 11 shows the index sentence profile of the (average daily) population of women to 2021-22. In line with the 7% reduction in this population overall, reductions are observed across the different index sentence bands between 2020-21 and 2021-22. The only exception is in the subgroup of those serving index sentences of up to 1 year, which remained broadly stable at 55 in 2021-22 (+1 from 54 in 2020-21).
As in the overall population, the share of the women’s sentenced population serving shorter index sentences remains below pre-pandemic levels. There were substantial reductions in the population of women serving short index sentences between 2019-20 and 2021-22, but a broad stability in the population of women serving long-term and life index sentences between 2019-20 and 2020-21. In 2019-20, 68% of the (average daily) women’s sentenced population were serving index sentences of up to 4 years. In 2021-22 this had fallen to 60%.
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