The needs and characteristics of older prisoners: results from the Surveying Prisoner Crime Reduction (SPCR) survey

Document type
Omolade, Samuel
Ministry of Justice
Date of publication
1 October 2014
Offenders, Older Adults
Social welfare
Material type

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This report summarises findings from Sample 2 of Surveying Prisoner Crime Reduction (SPCR), a longitudinal cohort study of 2,171 adult prisoners sentenced to between 18 months and four years in 2006 and 2007. It focuses on the needs and characteristics of 115 older prisoners (aged 50 and over) on reception to custody compared to 2,056 younger prisoners (18–49 years old). The key findings are:

  • Older prisoners may have greater health needs than younger prisoners. Of the SPCR sample, they were more likely to report needing help with a medical problem and be considered to have a disability. Older prisoners were also more likely to report long-term sickness/disability as a reason for having been unable to work in the four weeks before custody and were more likely to have been claiming sickness/incapacity benefit in the year before custody.
  • A higher proportion of older prisoners reported completing a degree/diploma or equivalent or trade apprenticeship, whilst younger prisoners were more likely to report that they had been looking for work or training before coming to custody.
  • Older prisoners reported lower levels of drug use compared to younger prisoners, with fewer than three in ten older prisoners reporting using any drug before custody compared to the majority of younger prisoners.
  • Older prisoners in the SPCR sample were less likely than younger prisoners to reoffend in the year following release from custody. They reported that the most important factors in reducing their reoffending were suitable accommodation, fear of returning to prison, family contact and support and employment.

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