UK: MPs investigate the ageing prison population

The number of people in prison aged over 50 is projected to grow from 13,616 in June 2018, to 14,100 (3.6% increase) in June 2022.

The number over 60 is projected to grow from 5,009 to 5,600 (12% increase) over the same period, and those aged over 70 from 1,681 to 2,000 (19% increase).

The proportion of people aged over 60 is also expected to rise as a proportion of the total prison population.

These projections result from more offenders aged 50 and over being sent to prison than are being released – driven by increases in sexual offence proceedings since 2012.

Offenders are also receiving longer sentences, which also raises the numbers turning 50, 60 or 70 while in custody.

The Committee’s inquiry will examine the challenges older prisoners face and the services they need, including the adequacy of accommodation, purposeful activity, provision of health and social care, resettlement and whether a national strategy for the treatment of older prisoners is needed.

Chair’s comments

Chair of the Justice Committee, Bob Neill MP, said:

“Prisons are often unfit for the needs of older people and the Committee is concerned that more and more older prisoners are living in unsuitable accommodation without access to proper health and social care or the wider prison regime.

The Chief Inspector has said that it is disappointing that there is no clear strategy for older prisoners and the Committee wants to get to the bottom of what is being done to support this cohort of prisoners and what plans are being made for the future as the number of older prisoners increases.

The Justice Committee last looked at this issue six years ago and we are concerned that little progress has been made since then.

Our new inquiry seeks to identify the extent of the problem and to recommend what can be done to improve the situation.

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