Cyprus is first in prison overcrowding for 2023

Top of the list for prison overcrowding

b bfilakes2 770x462 1 Cyprus, prison

Cyprus tops the list for prison overcrowding and the percentage of female prisoners according to the Council of Europe's annual criminal statistics on prison populations for 2023 (SPACE I) released on Thursday.

Cyprus also has one of the highest percentages of foreign prisoners (55%), while the increase in the rate of incarceration in Cyprus (25%) is among the highest among the 48 prison administrations of the Council of Europe member states (out of 51 in total ) who participated in the survey that provided this information.

Prison overcrowding remains a major "and persistent problem in a significant number of European prison administrations," according to SPACE I, the Council of Europe (CoE) said in a press release.

Overall, it says, in Europe, the number of prisoners per 100 available places increased by 2% from 31 January 2022 to 31 January 2023 (from 91,7 to 93,5 prisoners). Seven prison authorities reported prison densities of more than 105 inmates per 100 available places, "indicating severe overcrowding". According to the data, Cyprus is first in this category, with 166 prisoners per 100 places, followed by Romania (120), France (119), Belgium (115), Hungary (112), Italy (109 ) and Slovenia (107).

According to the same data, on January 31, 2023, 1.036.680 prisoners were held in 48 prison administrations of the CoE member states.

It is reported that 16 prison administrations - including Cyprus - showed a "significant increase" in the percentage of their prison population from January 2022 to January 2023. Specifically, in countries with over 500.000 inhabitants, first on the list is the Republic of Moldova (+52%), followed by North Macedonia (+26%), Cyprus (+25%), Turkey (+15%), Azerbaijan (+13%), Ireland (+12 %), Montenegro (+11%), Armenia (+11%), Croatia (+10%), Hungary (+8,7%), Northern Ireland (United Kingdom) (+8,3%) ), Georgia (+8,2%), Bulgaria (+8,1%), Austria (+6,8%), Italy (+5,7%) and Sweden (+5,1%) ). Imprisonment rates fell significantly only in Malta (-22%), Lithuania (-8,9%), Estonia (-8,8%) and Greece (-5,2%), while remaining stable in 23 administrations of prisons, it is added.

It is also noted that the vast majority of the prison population were men with women accounting for only 5% of the prisoners. Cyprus, with 9,2%, is first in the list of countries with a "relatively high" percentage of women in prisons. They are followed by Malta with 9,1%, the Czech Republic with 8,5%, Finland and Latvia (7,7%).

Cyprus is also on the list with the highest percentage of foreign prisoners, accounting for more than half of the prisoners. On average, 27% of prisoners in European prisons were foreigners, it said, "although with significant differences between countries".

The prison administrations with the highest percentages of foreigners, according to the SC, were Luxembourg with 78%, Switzerland with 71%, Greece with 57%, Cyprus with 55%, Austria (51%), Catalonia ( Spain) (49%), Malta (49%) and Belgium (42%), in countries with over 500.000 inhabitants.

The average age of prisoners in European prisons is 38, according to the figures, by 31 January 2023, while violent and drug-related offenses account for more than half of the main crimes for which European prisoners are serving time prison terms. Drug offenses are the most common offense (19% of the convicted population), followed by homicide and attempted homicide (13%), theft (12%), sexual offenses (8,9%), robbery (7,7%) and assault (6,7%).

It is noted that the SPACE surveys are conducted annually for the Council of Europe by the University of Lausanne.

Source: KYPE