Irish Penal Reform Trust

Round-up: Council of Europe 'SPACE I' Annual Penal Statistics in Europe for 2016

20th March 2018

The Council of Europe (CoE) have published SPACE I: Annual Penal Statistics in Europe for 2016. The report contains a detailed breakdown of penological trends across Europe. 90% of CoE Member State Prison Administrations (47 out of 52) participated in the questionnaire which informed the report, 3% more than the 2015 study. The findings presented in the report were validated by internal, cross-national and peer review procedures.

 Key findings from a European perspective:

  • The median prison population has risen by 1% since 2015: from 115.7 to 117.1 inmates per 100,000 inhabitants;
  • On 1st September 2016, European prisons were near capacity, holding almost 92 inmates per 100 places: 27.7% of prison administrations were experiencing overcrowding;
  • At 18.9%, theft overtook drug offences, now at 17.5%, as the most common offence for which serving prisoners had been detained, followed by robbery (12.6%), and homicide (12.1%).

Key findings from an Irish perspective:

  • Ireland’s total population rose to 4,724,720, from 4,658,530 in 2015;
  • Since 2015, the total number of under-18 (<18) males detained in Ireland had decreased from 35 to 9, and there were no female <18 inmates recorded in the country in 2016;
  • The incarceration rate per 100,000 inhabitants was 78.1, down from 80.4 in 2015;
  • Rate of entries to penal institutions per 100,000 inhabitants was 371.7, compared to a CoE average of 167.3, the 6th highest rate in the EU;
  • Rate of releases from penal institutions per 100,000 inhabitants was 376.3, compared to a CoE average of 135.1, the 2nd highest rate in the EU;
  • The suicide rate in Irish prisons was 7.1% of all registered deaths, compared to the CoE median rate of 15.5% - both rates were 25% the previous year;
  • The cost of housing a juvenile prisoner for one day, which last year was revealed to be the controversial amount of €2,773.38, has now been lowered to just €188.00 in Ireland, equal to the cost of housing any other detainee. Although this is a significant decrease, it is still well above the CoE median cost €53.52, and Ireland has the third highest juvenile housing cost of all the participating member states;
  • As presented in the SPACE report, on 1st September 2016, the Irish Prison Service employed 0 Staff responsible for education activities, whereas the European median is 2.4% of all prison staff. However, it must be noted that in Ireland, the Education and Training Board employs prison educators, which explains the deviation from the CoE median. 
  • Contrastingly, 12.3% staff employed by the Irish prison administration were involved in workshops and vocational training, far higher than the CoE median 2.6%.

If you would like to compare these findings to Space I 2015, you can find last year's report here.

Read the SPACE I: Annual Penal Statistics in Europe for 2016 report here.

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