Saturday, March 07, 2009

Incarceration Rates By Nationality In The UK

Following on from the government's spat with the ONS's population figures. I have decided to compare the number of foreign citizens from each country in the UK with the number of foreign citizens in prison in England & Wales.

Figures for for the incarceration and nationality are here, these refer to December 2006 so I'll use the 2006 population figures to compare them to.

Before I start I should note a few limitations of my comparison:
  • The population figures are from the UK, whereas the prison figures are limited to England & Wales. This isn't a huge problem- except for the UK figure- because more than 90% of foreigners come to England & Wales
  • I've made no allowance for the different age structures of the populations, older groups will have lower crime rates than younger ones.
  • I've made no allowance for the sex ratio which will be different for each country. The low Filipino ranking is probably partly due to the fact that the most common reason for coming to the UK from there is to work in the, largely female, nursing profession.
  • It only refers to adult prison, so youth crime isn't accounted for.
  • Some countries are part of drug smuggling routes, as smugglers enter the country purely to commit a crime they are unrepresentative of their nation's citizens as a whole.
  • Countries with whom we exchange prisoners will be under represented.
  • The population figures only list the 60 most common nationalities in the UK. Some nationalities outside that top 60 would be at least in the top 10 if they were included, such as DR Congo, Serbia & Netherlands Antilles.
  • There may be errors in the data. For example according to the prison stats there are no Ukrainian prisoners in England & Wales, which is obviously wrong. Others may also be suspect.
Having said all that it isn't a useless comparison as big differences will reflect something real regardless of all the provisos. So here is the list with the figures representing prisoners per 100,000 citizens of that country resident in the UK:
  1. Vietnam-3320
  2. Jamaica- 2674
  3. Nigeria- 1516
  4. Albania- 1064
  5. Romania- 829
  6. Sierra Leonne- 871
  7. Trinidad & Tobago- 777
  8. Iraq- 756
  9. Iran- 754
  10. Colombia- 712
  11. Russia- 616
  12. Uganda- 607
  13. Somalia- 573
  14. Turkey- 502
  15. Cyprus- 500
  16. Pakistan- 414
  17. Ghana- 404
  18. Lithuania- 366
  19. Kenya- 353
  20. China- 341
  21. Sri Lanka- 322
  22. Netherlands- 296
  23. Latvia- 261
  24. Zimbabwe- 252
  25. Libya- 250
  26. Belgium- 229
  27. Bangladesh- 201
  28. Portugal- 198
  29. Ireland- 195
  30. Brazil- 187
  31. Czech- 185
  32. Hungary- 183
  33. South Africa- 165
  34. Zambia- 160
  35. Germany- 151
  36. Spain- 149
  37. France- 139
  38. UK- 124
  39. Austria- 120
  40. Italy- 115
  41. Poland- 113
  42. India- 105
  43. USA- 83
  44. Malaysia- 69
  45. Greece- 69
  46. Bulgaria- 64
  47. Hong Kong- 60
  48. Canada- 58
  49. Sweden- 55
  50. Denmark- 53
  51. Norway- 50
  52. Slovakia- 48
  53. Philippines- 34
  54. Korea- 33
  55. Switzerland- 33
  56. Australia- 28
  57. Honduras- 21
  58. New Zealand- 17
  59. Finland- 14
  60. Japan- 0
  61. Ukraine- 0
The overall trends are harder to see, citizens from rich countries tend to be locked up less frequently than those from poor countries but there are major exceptions (India, Zambia, Bulgaria). The largest source of immigrants in the last few years- Poland- has a fairly low incarceration rate. Recently war torn countries seem to have fairly high rates.


Mark Wadsworth said...

Good work, but I can't see UK or England on that list.

JuliaM said...

I would never have picked Vietnam, of all places, for the top of the pile...

Ross said...

"Good work, but I can't see UK or England on that list."

No, because the population data only listed foreign citizens, I'm sure the number of British citizens could be worked out based on that though. My previous estimate of British citizens in England & Wales's prisons was about 123 per 100,000, but that is using a different source of data (the 2001 census).

Ross said...

"I would never have picked Vietnam, of all places, for the top of the pile..."

Now would I, although oddly enough as I was writing this post I saw on the regional news that group of Vietnamese men had been arrested in connection with people smuggling.

Two explanations spring to mind:

- The Vietnamese population in the UK is relatively small (it was 60th out of 60 on this list), they just don't register too much in the public consciousness because whatever the rate of incarceration the total is relatively small.

- Maybe the data is faulty. The raw data is- 300 male prisoners, 32 female prisoners for a 332 total. There are a lot of threes kicking about so I could see how a transcription error could occur. Supposing the real figure male-33, female- 3 for example then the Vietnamese rate would be 360- quite similar to that of China another poor East Asian country.

Mark Wadsworth said...

England 123, that's helpful, we are quite far down the list then.

Ross said...

The question is whether I should compare the number of UK prisoners to the population of UK nationals in the UK or just to those in England & Wales. It makes a slight difference:

UK nationals in prison in England and Wales: 66440

UK Nationals in UK: 55,370,000

Incarceration rate: 123.6


"UK Nationals in England & Wales: 47,310,000

Incarceration Rate: 140.4

Ross said...

OK I've added the UK figure.

Anonymous said...

Vietnamese criminal organizations run cannabis farms in rented homes around the country (and not just here either - they do it in Canada, Australia, and America as well). Since there aren't many Vietnamese here otherwise, I'm not actually surprised that they are top of the list on a per capita basis.

Ross said...

"Vietnamese criminal organizations run cannabis farms in rented homes around the country "

Oh I see, that explains it then.

I've just googled 'vietnamese' 'cannabis' and can see what you mean. Perhaps the Vietnamese gangs don't get much press attention because it is 'only' cannabis and not harder drugs.

Anonymous said...

Well, also they keep to themselves and don't shank randoms for disrespektin der bredrins, get me blud. Hence little press coverage.