Irish prisoner population growth bucks European trend

Irish prisoner population growth bucks European trend

The Irish prison population grew by nearly two percent between 2016 and 2018 while the overall imprisonment rate in Europe fell by nearly seven per cent, new figures reveal.

The Council of Europe’s Annual Penal Statistics for 2018 (SPACE), published yesterday, reveals that a downwards trend in European prisoner figures which began in 2012 has continued.

However, the incarceration rate in Ireland has grown by 0.5 per cent since 2008, compared to a 12.5 per cent decrease in Scotland, a 10.5 per cent decrease in Northern Ireland, and a 6.5 per cent decline in England and Wales.

There were 79.5 prisoners for each 100,000 people in Ireland on 31 January 2018, according to the SPACE report.

The countries where the incarceration rate decreased the most were Romania (-16 per cent), Bulgaria (-15 per cent), Norway (-11.6), Finland (-9.9 per cent) and North Macedonia (-9.7 per cent), followed by Armenia (-8.7 per cent), Latvia (-8.4 per cent), Luxembourg (-7.1 per cent), Estonia (-5.7 per cent) and Cyprus (-5.5 per cent).

On the other hand, incarceration rates increased the most in Iceland (+25.4 per cent), Italy (+7.5 per cent), Netherlands (+5.9 per cent), Denmark (+5.8 per cent) and Montenegro (+5.5 per cent).

Countries with particularly high incarceration rates continued to be Russia (418.3 inmates per 100,000 inhabitants), Georgia (252.2), Azerbaijan (235), Lithuania (234.9), Republic of Moldova (215.2), Czech Republic (208.8), Latvia (194.6), Poland (194.4) and Estonia (191.4).

Not taking into account countries with less than 300,000 inhabitants, the lowest incarceration rates were found in Iceland (46.8), Finland (51.1), Netherlands (54.4), Sweden (56.5), Denmark (63.2), Slovenia (61.1) and Norway (65.4).

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