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Prison Sentences

Volume 497: debated on Monday 12 October 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what the average (a) tariff and (b) time served by offenders sentenced to (i) a mandatory life sentence and (ii) a discretionary life sentence was in each of the last 10 years. (287898)

Details of prisoners' releases are published in the ‘Offender Management Caseload Statistics' (OMCS) produced by Offender Management and Sentence Analytical Services in the Ministry of Justice. This is available in the Library of the House and is available at:

http://www.justice.gov.uk/pulicatons/statistics

OMCS provides details of the time served by offenders sentenced to a mandatory life sentence, and by all other life sentenced offenders, not including offenders serving an indeterminate sentence of imprisonment for public protection (IPP).

Disaggregating the time served by those serving discretionary from the “other life sentenced offenders” in OMCS would incur disproportionate costs.

The following table sets out the average time, by number of years, served by mandatory and other lifers, by year of release:

Mandatory Lifers

Other Lifers

1998

13

14

1999

13

16

2000

13

11

2001

13

9

2002

14

9

2003

15

12

2004

14

9

2005

14

6

2006

14

7

2007

16

9

2008

16

9

The following table sets out the average tariff length for sentences received in the same time period, for mandatory lifers and other lifers (not including indeterminate sentences for public protection), rounded to the nearest year, by year and sentence. As with any large scale recording system, they are subject to possible errors arising from either data entry or processing.

Mandatory Lifers

Other Lifers

1998

13

6

1999

14

6

2000

14

5

2001

14

5

2002

13

5

2003

14

5

2004

15

6

2005

16

6

2006

19

8

2007

17

11

2008

18

11

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many and what proportion of prisoners who completed their sentence during (a) 2007 and (b) 2008 served their entire sentence in prison. (291835)

In accordance with the legislation which governs the release of prisoners, no prisoner serving a determinate sentence is required to serve the entire sentence in prison. Successive legislation on this, since 1967, has maintained the approach that prisoners should serve a proportion of their sentence in custody and the rest in the community, often subject to licence conditions on release. This approach is vital for the purposes of safely reintegrating prisoners back into the community and to reduce the risk of further offending. If prisoners were to serve their whole sentence in prison they would have to be released without any supervision or restrictions, which would put the public at risk.

Only those prisoners serving a life sentence with a whole life tariff will spend their entire sentence in prison.

The following table shows the average percentage of sentence served (including time on remand) for prisoners discharged from determinate sentences in 2007 and 2008 from prison establishments in England and Wales.

Percentage of time served including remand

2007

2008

Adult releases from prison 2007-08

Up to and including 6 months

58

58

Over 6 months and less than 12 months

51

49

12 months and less than 4 years

60

61

4 years and less than life

65

63

All determinate sentences

62

61

Young offenders releases from prison 2007-08

Up to and including 6 months

66

64

Over 6 months and up to and including 12 months

51

52

12 months and less than 4 years

53

54

4 years and less than life

61

59

All determinate sentences

57

56

This table is an extract from tables 9.1 and 9.2 in the recently published Offender Management Caseload Statistics 2008, a copy of which has been placed in the House of Commons Library and which can also be found at the following website:

http://www.justice.gov.uk/publications/prisonand probation.htm

These figures have been drawn from administrative IT systems which, as with any large scale recording system, are subject to possible errors with data entry and processing.