Prison overcrowding among worse in Europe

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Prison density in Cyprus is the second highest in Europe, with the biggest proportion of female inmates, according to the Council of Europe’s Annual Penal Statistics for 2022 (SPACE I), released Tuesday.

Regarding women inmates, the CoE’s statistics show the prison administration with more than 1 million inhabitants was the highest in Cyprus (9.5%).

Cyprus ranks third for prison administrations with the highest proportions of foreign inmates (in countries with more than 1 million inhabitants) with 52%.

According to the Cyprus indicators, on 31 January 2022, the total number of inmates (including pre-trial detainees) was 808.

The ratio of inmates per staff member was 2.0 (the average was 1.5).

Drug offences in Cyprus were 20%, murder, including attempted murder, was 11.7%, and theft was 5.2%.

In addition, Cyprus is the prison administration with the lowest average length of imprisonment (1.3 months).

Cyprus ranks second as regards overcrowding in prisons.

Overall, in Europe, prison density grew by 4.8% from January 2021 to January 2022.

Prison administrations that reported a density of more than 105 inmates per 100 places, an indicator of severe overcrowding, are Romania (124 per 100 places), Cyprus (118), France (115), Belgium (115), Türkiye (113), Greece (108) and Italy (107). The average was 84.8.

Regarding female inmates, 5 out of 100 inmates in Europe was a woman.

The prison administrations of countries with over 1 million inhabitants where the proportion was the highest were Cyprus (9.5%), Malta (8.6%), Latvia (8.4%), Czech Republic (8.1%), Hungary (7.6%), Slovak Republic (7.3%), Finland (7.2%) and Spain (State administration (7.2%), and Portugal (7%).

Regarding foreigners, the survey says that overall, in Europe – 16% of the prison population were foreigners.

Prison administrations with the highest proportions of foreign inmates (in countries or regions with more than 1 million inhabitants, were Switzerland (70%), Greece (59%), Cyprus (52%), Austria (49%), Malta (49%), Catalonia (Spain) (48%), Belgium (43%), Estonia (33%), Italy (31%), Slovenia (29%), Denmark (27%), Spain (State administration) (27%) and Germany (26%).

Prison administrations with the lowest percentage of foreign inmates were Romania (1%), the Republic of Moldova (1.4%), and Republika Srpska (Bosnia and Herzegovina) (1.4%).

Drug offences continued to be the most common main conviction among prisoners; these offenders constituted 19% of the prison population, followed by theft (15%), homicide or attempted homicide (14%), robbery (10.8%), assault and battery (10.3%), sexual offences excluding rape (6%), rape (5%), road traffic offences (4.6%), economic or financial crimes (3.9%).

There were 981,575 inmates in the 48 prison administrations of Council of Europe member states that participated in the SPACE I survey.

The countries with the highest incarceration rates were Türkiye (355 inmates per 100,000 inhabitants), Georgia (237), and Azerbaijan (217).

Not taking into account countries with less than one million inhabitants, the lowest incarceration rates were found in the prison administrations of Republika Srpska (49), Finland (50), the Netherlands (54), Norway (56), Cyprus (66), Slovenia (66), Germany (67).

From 31 January 2021 to 31 January 2022, the median incarceration rate grew by 2.3% in countries with one million inhabitants.

The prison administrations where the incarceration rate grew the most were Slovenia (+23%), Finland (+15%), and France (+15%). In Cyprus, it showed a decrease of 1.4%.

The median average length of imprisonment in European prison administrations was 8.5 months.

Prison administrations with the highest average length of imprisonment were Portugal (30.6 months), Ukraine (27.9), Republic of Moldova (27.7).

The prison administrations with the lowest average length of imprisonment were Cyprus (1.3 months), Switzerland (1.8), and Republika Srpska ((3.6).

Of all inmates, approximately 16.5% were over 50.

Italy had the highest proportion of inmates over 50 (28%); approximately 3% were 65 or over. North

North Macedonia had the highest proportion of inmates over 65 (8.3%).

In Cyprus, 14.7% of inmates were aged 50 or over, and 2.7% were 65 or over.