Today, the Council of Europe has published its new annual statistics on prisons in Europe for the period until end-January 2019.
Secretary-General Pejčinović Burić calls on states to resort to alternatives to deprivation of liberty and to protect both the prison population and prison staff.
According to the report, the overall imprisonment rate – the number of inmates per 100,000 inhabitants – remained stable in Europe from 2018 to 2019, according to the Council of Europe Annual Penal Statistics for 2019 (SPACE I), published today (see also the Key Findings).
On 31 January 2019, there were 1,540,484 inmates in the 50 prison administrations (out of 52) of the Council of Europe member states for which these data are available, which means that the overall imprisonment rate, an indicator mainly determined by the length of prison sentences, was 106 inmates per 100,000 inhabitants. In the 45 prison administrations that provided data for both 2018 and 2019 the global incarceration remained stable, with a very slight increase from 104 to 104.5 inmates per 100,000 inhabitants. The proportion of inmates not serving a final sentence also remained stable (22%).
In the context of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, Council of Europe Secretary General Marija Pejčinović Burić stressed the need for relevant authorities to take into account the Statement of principles issued by the Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT) relating to the treatment of persons deprived of their liberty. “Prison administrations and all the relevant authorities should strive to resort to alternatives to deprivation of liberty, in particular in situations of overcrowding and take all possible measures to protect both the prison population and prison staff”, said the Secretary General.
According to the survey, Ukraine is among prison administrations with the largest prison populations (52,973), along with Russia (563,166 inmates), Turkey (269,806), UK (England and Wales) (82,236), Poland (72,204), France (70,059), Germany (63,643), Italy (60,125), and Spain (State Administration) (50,612).
45 of the 52 prison administrations in the Council of Europe area answered this year’s questionnaire; the prison administrations in Belgium, Bosnia & Herzegovina (State level, Federal level, and Republika Srpska), Georgia, Malta and Ukraine did not. However, data concerning the total number of inmates in Belgium, Republika Srpska (Bosnia & Herzegovina), Georgia, Malta, and Ukraine, as well as the total capacity of prison institutions in Belgium, Republika Srpska (Bosnia & Herzegovina), Georgia and Malta were retrieved from other sources and are therefore included in the calculation of the relevant European median values. Data for Crimea was not collected.