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18 July, 2024
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Cyprus leads Europe in prison overcrowding

Report highlights high female inmate percentage and gender disparities in inmate population


Cyprus leads Europe in prison overcrowding and the percentage of female inmates, according to the Council of Europe’s Annual Penal Statistics on Prison Populations (SPACE I) for 2023, released Thursday. The report also reveals that Cyprus has one of the highest percentages of foreign inmates (55%) and has seen a 25% increase in its incarceration rate, placing it among the highest in surveyed prison administrations.

The Council of Europe press release emphasized that prison overcrowding remains a severe issue across many European countries. As of January 31, 2023, Cyprus had 166 inmates per 100 available places, the highest density among European nations. This was followed by Romania (120), France (119), Belgium (115), Hungary (112), Italy (109), and Slovenia (107).

Europe-wide, the average number of prisoners per 100 places increased from 91.7 to 93.5 between January 2022 and January 2023. There were 1,036,680 inmates across 48 prison administrations in Council of Europe member states.

Incarceration rates rose significantly in 16 prison administrations, with Cyprus seeing a 25% increase. Other notable increases were observed in Moldova (+52%), North Macedonia (+26%), and Turkey (+15%). In contrast, incarceration rates dropped significantly in Malta (-22%), Lithuania (-8.9%), Estonia (-8.8%), and Greece (-5.2%).

Women represent 5% of the prison population across Europe. However, Cyprus tops the list with 9.2% of female inmates, followed by Malta (9.1%), Czechia (8.5%), Finland, and Latvia (both 7.7%).

Foreign inmates make up 27% of the European prison population on average. Cyprus has one of the highest proportions of foreign inmates at 55%, trailing only Luxembourg (78%) and Switzerland (71%).

The average age of inmates in European prisons remains 38 years. Violent and drug-related offenses account for more than half of the crimes leading to imprisonment, with drug offenses being the most common (19%), followed by homicide (13%), theft (12%), sexual offenses (8.9%), robbery (7.7%), and assault (6.7%).

The SPACE surveys, conducted annually for the Council of Europe by the University of Lausanne, provide comprehensive data on prison and probation populations in Council of Europe member states.

Cyprus  |  prison

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