Doing Time: the experiences and needs of older people in prison

Published: Jul 2008

The Prison Reform Trust

The latest official figures show that at the end of March 2008 there were 6,661 men and 316 women over the age of 50 in prison in England and Wales, approximately 8.5% of the prison population. Prisoners over the age 60 are the fastest growing age group in prison, with the number of men more than tripling between 1996 (699) and 2008 (2,242). There were 454 people over the age of 70.

The report reveals that often poor health and social care assessments can lead to loss of dignity and humiliation. Some incontinent prisoners are, for example kept locked in education classes without easy access to toilet facilities.

The report calls on prison staff to take steps to monitor the involvement of older people in prison life and, in particular, respond quickly and effectively to bullying. The report finds that almost half (48%) of men interviewed had experienced bullying or intimidation. One example cited in the report, is of an older prisoner whose mattress was taken from him by his younger cell mate who also forced him to use the top bunk at night.