Older prisoners are the fastest growing group within the prison population; the number of those aged over 60 grew by 120% and those aged 50-59 by 100% between 2002 and 2013. There are several reasons for this increase; partly prisoners are serving longer sentences, but more are now being convicted and sentenced to custody at an older age, including for historic offences that took place twenty or thirty years ago. Older prisoners are most likely to be serving sentences for sexual offences and this is reflected in the long sentences that they serve.
The report covers the characteristics of older prisoners, the suitability of the prison estate and regimes, health and social care and resettlement. Older prisoners have needs that are distinct from the rest of the prison population by virtue of their severity and there is marked commonality between groups of older prisoners. The Committee recommends that the growth in the older prisoner population, which is likely to continue, and the severity of their needs warrant the creation of a national strategy to remove inequity of provision and maintain minimum standards.