Violence involving prisoners
1. Main facts and figures
there were 21,489 recorded assaults in public prisons in England and Wales in 2020, compared with 32,800 in 2019 – a 34% decrease
between 2012 and 2020, the rate of assaults for every 1,000 prisoners went up in every ethnic group
in every ethnic group, the rate of assaults was highest in 2018 or 2019
prisoners in the Mixed ethnic group were more likely than any other ethnic group to be victims of assault
Black prisoners were most likely out of all ethnic groups to be assailants or involved in incidents where the victim or assailant was unclear
2. Things you need to know
What the data measures
The data measures the number of violent incidents involving prisoners in public prisons in England and Wales. It also shows the rate of incidents for every 1,000 prisoners in each ethnic group.
Violent incidents are where a prisoner:
- assaults another prisoner or a member of prison staff (‘assailants’)
- is assaulted by another prisoner (‘victims’)
- is involved in an incident where there is no clear assailant or victim (‘fighters’)
Rates for every 1,000 prisoners are rounded to the nearest whole number.
Not included in the data
The data is based on the number of violent incidents. It does not include information about:
- the number of people involved
- any staff or visitors who may have been victims or otherwise involved
How violent incident rates are calculated
The rate shown for each ethnic group is the average number of violent incidents each year for every 1,000 prisoners of that ethnic group.
The ethnic groups used in the data
Data is shown for 5 aggregated ethnic groups:
This means estimates are shown for these groups as a whole.
Prisoners reported their own ethnicity. About 95% of prisoners reported their ethnicity for each year of the period studied.
Read the detailed methodology document (PDF opens in a new window or tab) for the data on this page.
Some prisoners may be involved in more than one violent incident, in which case they will be included in the data more than once and the number of prisoners involved does not equal the total number of assaults.
There are more White prisoners compared with other ethnic groups. You can read more about how group size affects the reliability of data.
In the data file
See Download the data for rates rounded to 1 decimal place.
3. By ethnicity and role in the incident
|Ethnicity||Assailant Rate per 1,000 prisoners||Assailant Number of incidents||Fighter Rate per 1,000 prisoners||Fighter Number of incidents||Victim Rate per 1,000 prisoners||Victim Number of incidents|
Summary of Violence involving prisoners By ethnicity and role in the incident Summary
4. By ethnicity over time (assailants 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 (assailants only) Summary
5. Data sources
Type of data
Type of statistic
Ministry of Justice
Purpose of data source
This data is used by the 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: measure, ethnicity, year, type of involvement, rate per 1,000, number