Trends in criminal justice spending, staffing and populations 2008-2009 to 2017-2018

Matt Ford
Thursday, 30 May 2019

The Centre's latest report, Trends in criminal justice spending, staffing and populations 2008-2009 to 2017-2018, published today, examines the real terms spending and staffing trends across the three criminal justice jurisdictions of the UK.

With analysis across police services, law courts and prisons, the briefing concludes that, in aggregate terms, the criminal justice footprint across the UK has reduced significantly in the ten years to 2017-2018 with spending in Northern Ireland experiencing the sharpest cuts. 

Prison spending

Prison spending in England and Wales rose between 2013-2014 and 2016-2017 whilst prison staffing halted its decline and increased in 2017-2018. Meanwhile in Northern Ireland and Scotland, the criminal justice workforce overall increased over the decade.

The prison population

The prison population has remained relatively stable during this timeframe 


Police recorded crime in England and Wlaes has risen by nearly half since 2012-2013, but this hasn't filtered through into criminal justice caseloads, which have continued to fall, except for court-ordered fines which have seen a resurgence since 2013-2014. 

The costs of policing dominate overall criminal justice spending and workforce, accounting for around two thirds of spending and nearly three quarters of staffing in each jurisdiction.

Get the data 

Download the data used in this publication.