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Prisoners: Per Capita Costs

Volume 508: debated on Thursday 25 March 2010

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what methodology is used to estimate the average cost of a prison place; and whether the costs of (a) administration of the National Offender Management Service national and regional structures, (b) prisoner health care, (c) education services, (d) drug services, (e) dog handling and (f) Prison Service administration are taken into account in determining the average cost of a prison place. (323746)

The average cost of a prison place comprises the expenditure on public and private prisons (as recorded in the National Offender Management Service (NOMS) Agency Annual Report and Accounts), increased by an apportionment of relevant costs borne centrally and in the regions by NOMS. This involves some estimation. In addition, expenditure met centrally by the Youth Justice Board (YJB) is included. The figures do not include the cost of prisoners held in police or court cells under Operation Safeguard, nor expenditure met by other Government Departments (e.g. health and education). The prisoner escort service costs are included. Where the costs of young people are recharged by NOMS to the YJB, expenditure is shown gross and not reduced by income from the YJB.

For 2008-09 the overall cost of a prison place was £45,000 (to nearest £1,000). This includes expenditure met by NOMS national and regional structures, including Prison Service administration, and the YJB. It does not include expenditure met by other Government Departments (e.g. for health and education).

In general health care and education costs are not included. Where prisons have been contracted out to the private sector the cost to NOMS includes health care and this is included in the cost per place above. In general prisoner education is not included. In general clinical drug addiction services are not included. Services which are the responsibility of NOMS (e.g. drug testing, accredited drug treatment programmes and Counselling, Assessment, Referral advice and Throughcare services) are included. Dog handling costs are included.

Before 2008-09, Her Majesty's Prison Service annual report and accounts included the direct prison cost per place. This included only the expenditure met and managed locally at each prison and excluded expenditure met at area, region or national level. The reported figures included expenditure on health care and education which was recharged to the other Government Departments. It did not include that expenditure met directly by other Government Departments.

Cost per prison place is expressed in terms of the Certified Normal Accommodation number of places; this gives a higher unit cost than the cost per prisoner.