Back Europe’s prison population falls, but there is no progress in tackling overcrowding, says annual Council of Europe survey

Council of Europe Strasbourg 14 March 2017
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The number of people held in European prisons decreased by 6.8% from 2014 to 2015, although prison overcrowding remained a problem in 15 countries, according to the latest Council of Europe Annual Penal Statistics (SPACE), published today (SPACE I: report and summary ; SPACE II: report).

In 2015, 1,404,398 people were held in penitentiary institutions across Europe, which is 102,880 inmates fewer than the previous year(1). The incarceration rate (Prison Population Rate), which is often used as an indicator of how punitive anti-crime policies are, also fell by 7% from 124 inmates to 115.7 inmates per 100,000 inhabitants(2).

Council of Europe Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland said: ““The drop in the overall number of people in prison in Europe is welcome. Increasing the use of alternative sentences does not necessarily lead to higher crime rates but can help to reintegrate offenders and tackle overcrowding.”

(1) Taking into account exactly the same countries.

(2) Please note that median values are used because they are less affected by extreme values than the average, and are therefore more reliable and representative.