Violence involving prisoners
Last updated 14 May 2019 - see all updates
1. Main facts and figures
- overall, there were 18,405 recorded assaults in public prisons in England and Wales in 2017, compared with 16,782 in 2016 – an increase of 10%
- between 2012 and 2017, there was an increase in the rate of assaults per 1,000 prisoners in all ethnic groups, with the overall rate more than doubling for assailants in this period
- prisoners with Mixed ethnicity were more likely than any other ethnic group to be involved in assaults in 2017, either as the assailant, the victim, or in an incident where the victim or assailant wasn’t clear (labelled as ‘fighter’ in the charts and tables)
The ethnic categories used in this data
Prisoners reported their own ethnicity according to the following broad categories from the 2011 Census:
- Asian/Asian British
- Black/African/Caribbean/Black British
- Mixed/Multiple ethnic groups
2. By ethnicity (all violent incidents)
|Ethnicity||Assailant Incidents per 1,000 prisoners||Assailant Number of incidents||Fighter Incidents per 1,000 prisoners||Fighter Number of incidents||Victim Incidents per 1,000 prisoners||Victim Number of incidents|
Summary of Violence involving prisoners By ethnicity (all violent incidents) Summary
3. By ethnicity over time (assaults only)
|Time||Asian Assaults per 1,000 prisoners||Asian Number||Black Assaults per 1,000 prisoners||Black Number||Mixed Assaults per 1,000 prisoners||Mixed Number||White Assaults per 1,000 prisoners||White Number||Other Assaults per 1,000 prisoners||Other Number||Unknown Assaults per 1,000 prisoners||Unknown Number|
Summary of Violence involving prisoners By ethnicity over time (assaults only) Summary
Rates by ethnicity have been taken from the HMPPS Offender Equalities Statistics bulletin. Numbers of incidents have been taken from the Ministry of Justice’s Safety in Custody statistics bulletin.
To calculate the prisoner population, a 12-month average (based on prisoner counts done at the start of every month) was used where this data was available. This data was not available for the prisoner population by age or by ethnicity, so quarterly data was used to calculate the prisoner population.
Ethnicity is based on self-reporting by prisoners and has not been independently validated. About 95% of prisoners reported their ethnicity for each year of the period studied.
Information is provided by prisons and published by the Ministry of Justice after data checks are completed.
Rates per 1,000 prisoners are rounded to the nearest whole number. You can see rates rounded to 1 decimal place if you download the data.
5. Data sources
Type of data
Type of statistic
Ministry of Justice
Purpose of data source
This data is used by government to:
- inform policy development
- monitor the impact of changes over time
- model future changes and their impact on the prison system
6. Download the data
This file contains the following: ethnicity, year, value and numerator