Midas Research

Up-To-Date Research done by MIDAS Academic team. In conjunction with University of Essex.

Counting the Cost of Crime: a report for MIDAS

By Angela Jenner and Sue Hobbs (Criminology Centre, University of Essex)

Counting the cost of crime is a complex task. Whilst figures for public expenditure on criminal justice agencies are readily available, these are only the ‘tip of the iceberg’ and exclude the costs to the individual, business, the insurance industry and non criminal justice agencies (e.g. fire service, NHS). They also fail to take account of the social costs to the offender, the victim and the wider public. That said, in 2005 the Home Office estimated the cost of offending against individual and households as £36.2 billion per annum. These figures were based on a range of offences committed by youths and adults, and included non reported crimes. Additionally, in 2011 the OECD estimated that the overall cost of public safety and order was 2.8% of the GDP (higher than the USA or any other European country). So what do we know?

Cost of youth offending

An analysis of a cohort of 83,000 young offenders by National Audit Office published in 2011 estimated the cost of proven offending to the criminal justice system, including the costs of police, courts, offender management teams, and custody. They concluded that “on average, each young offender costs £8,000, per year, to the criminal justice system. On the same basis, each of the most costly 10 per cent costs £29,000” (MOJ, 2011: 4; emphasis added). In 2007, the Princes Trust estimated that the average cost associated with each youth crime committed, together with information on the total number of convictions, youth crime for Great Britain is in excess of £1 billion a year. (Princes Trust, 2007: 27).

  1. The YJB received funding of £504.2m in 2009/2010 (YJB 2010)
  2. Unit costs of police per recorded crime averaged £492 for both under 18 and 18s and over
  3. Unit costs of offender management per offender per team were £1,469 for under 18s and £357 for 18s and over
  4. Unit costs of court per crime varied widely and were dependent on the type of offence, venue and plea. For example violence against the person cost £6,837 for under 18s and £12,716 for 18s and over. Burglary cost £1,650 for under 18s and £12,716 for 18s and over. Criminal damage cost £840 for under 18 and £445 for 18s and over
  5. Unit cost of offender management teams were £1,469 annually for each offender under 18 and £357 annually for each offender 18 and over
  6. Unit cost of custody cost £4,898 per month for under 18s and £2,367 for 18s and over. The annual cost of custodial facilities for young offenders vary considerably: £212,000 per year in a secure children’s home; £178,000 in a secure training centre per year; and £60,000 in an under 18 Young Offender Institute

Costs of mental health

“It costs £1.6 billion a year, at the very least, to process people with identified mental health problems through the criminal justice system and these costs will be dramatically higher for those with unidentified needs” (Revolving Doors Agency, 2007: 1).


Costs of policing
  1. The Police dealt with 38.6 million offences in the previous 12 months up to June 2012 of which 717,542 resulted in convictions (Ministry of Justice, 2012)
  2. Costs of arrests per year £398 million per year (Revolving Doors Agency, 2007)
  3. Costs of issuing penalty notices for disorder per year £14 million per year (Revolving Doors Agency, 2007). There were 115,000 PNDs issued in the 12 months up to June 2012 (Ministry of Justice, 2012)
  4. Costs of issuing a caution £9 million per year (Revolving Doors Agency, 2007). There were 212,000 cautions issued in the 12 months up to June 2012 (Ministry of Justice, 2012)
  5. Costs of charging £136 million per year (Revolving Doors Agency, 2007)

Costs of courts
  1. Magistrates’ courts cost £350 million per year (Revolving Doors Agency, 2007). 1.57 million cases were processed by the magistrates’ court in the year up to June 2012 (Ministry of Justice, 2012)
  2. Crown court proceedings cost £171 million per year (Revolving Doors Agency, 2007). In 1999 the average cost was £30,500 per case to impose a custodial sentence in the crown court (PRT, 2012)

Costs of prison
  1. On 7th December 2012 there were 85,768 adults in prison of which 81,677 were men and 4,091 were women (HM Prisons, 2012)
  2. NOMS total budget for public prisons is £1,870 million for public prisons for 2011/12 and 311million for private prisons (PRT,2012)
  3. £583 million has been allocated by Ministry of Justice to the capital expenditure in the current spending review (PRT, 2012)
  4. The average cost of a prison place in 2012 is £37,648 per place, this includes costs met by NOMS (PRT,2012)

Costs of supervision by NOMS
  1. In the year ending March 2012 the Probation Service were supervising 124,297 community court orders and 111,597 prison cases of which 40,649 were post release (Ministry of Justice, 2012)
  2. 56,322 court reports were prepared in the 1st quarter of 2012 (Ministry of Justice, 2012)
  3. It costs £3000 per annum to supervise an offender on a basic order without requirements , rising to £7,000 per annum when there is a programme condition (NAPO, 2011)

The authors acknowledge the assistance of Katie Ready. www.midascharity.com/Essex University All Rights Reserved