Overcrowding remains a major problem in European prisons. Despite a slow decrease in overcrowding, Europe’s prisons remained close to its maximum capacity in 2014, holding over 1.6 million people in total.
The UK has the highest prison population in the European Union, a Council of Europe report published today (8 March) reveals.
There were a total of 95,248 people behind bars in this country. Of the 50 prison administrations examined in the study, only Russia and Turkey had more inmates, with 671,027 and 151,451 respectively
The annual report is based on information by prison administrations in the 47 members of the Council of Europe.
The total budget for the UK was about €3.9 billion, which is higher than any other country on the list, EU or otherwise, again apart from Russia.
The report is based on figures from 2013 and 2014. The average cost per inmate per day in 2013 was €99, ranging from €2.68 per day in Ukraine to over €200 per day in countries including the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden); the total cost across 45 prison administrations was over €27 billion
Overcrowding remains a problem in 1 in 4 prison administrations, not only in the UK, but also in Hungary (142 inmates per 100 places available), Belgium (129), Greece (121), France (114.5) and Italy (109.8)
Council of Europe Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland said: “Overcrowding creates enormous obstacles to rehabilitating offenders and thus to better protecting society from crime. It can also breach human rights. I welcome the progress achieved in reducing prison overcrowding. States still affected should do more to eradicate it, including applying alternative measures to imprisonment”.
On average, foreign inmates represented 21.7% of the total prison population, ranging from under 1% in Poland to over half in countries including Switzerland (73%), Greece (59.3%) and Austria (50.1%); on average, 34.6% of foreign inmates were from EU countries
34.6% of foreign inmates were citizens from European Union countries. In most Central and Eastern European countries, the proportion of foreign inmates did not exceed 10%. In Southern and Western Europe foreigners were over represented in comparison with the total population, their percentage ranging from 25% to 96% of the prison population.
On average, suicide accounted for 21% of deaths in penal institutions in 2013, including 92% in Norway, 63% in France, 46% in Sweden, 41% in Germany and 35% in England/Wales; 34% of prisoners who committed suicide were in pre-trial detention, and 5% were female.