Irish Penal Reform Trust

'SPACE I' Annual Penal Statistics: Prison Populations 2018

2nd April 2019

The Council of Europe (CoE) has published 'SPACE I' Annual Penal Statistics: Prison Populations 2018. The report contains a detailed breakdown of penological trends across Europe. Forty-five (45) out of the 52 Prison Administrations in the 47 Council of Europe member states answered the SPACE I 2018 questionnaire, which corresponds to a participation rate of 87%. 44 questionnaires were included as complete. The findings presented in the report were validated by internal, cross-national and peer review procedures.

NOTE: Since the present SPACE I report, the date of reference for stock indicators refers to 31st January of the year preceding the publication instead of 1st September of the year before that one, as it was the case from 1983 to 2016. The aim of that change of date is to publish the latest available data. Other indicators in the 2018 report use the 2017 year. Due to this change, there are no SPACE reports for 2017.

 Key findings from a European perspective:

  • The median prison population has decreased by 6.6%, from 109.7 to 102.5;
  • The percentage of female prisoners decreased by 7.4% between 2016 and 2018;
  • The ratio of prisoners per prison staff decreased by 5.9% between 2016 and 2018;
  • The percentage of non-sentenced detainees increased by 29% between 2016 and 2018;
  • The number of prison administrations experiencing overcrowding increased by 33% between 2016 and 2018 (However, this increase must be interpreted cautiously because three prison administrations that were experiencing overcrowding in 2016 did not answer the 2018 SPACE I questionnaire.)

Key findings from an Irish perspective:

  • Ireland was above the European median value for the rate of releases, ratio of prisoners per staff and average length of imprisonment, in months, based on the stock and flow;
  • The incarceration rate per 100,000 inhabitants was 79.5, up from 78.1 in 2016;
  • The total prison population on 31st January 2018 was 3,844, 155 of these were female (4%);
  • Of the total prison population, 787 (20.5%) were non-sentenced;
  • Of sentenced prisoners (3,045), 14.9% were serving sentences of less than 1 year;
  • Ireland’s prison density, or prisoners per capacity, stood at 88.9 per 100 places available for accommodation, just above the average of 87.6;
  • Of the total number in custody on 31st January 2018, 13.1% of these were non-nationals;
  • The rate of entry into penal institutions was 196.5 per 100,000 inhabitants, this is a dramatic fall from 371.7 in 2016;
  • The rate of release from penal institutions was 197 per 100,000 inhabitants, this is also a dramatic fall from 376.3 in 2016 (including exits by death and escape, this stands at 197.6 per 100,000 inhabitants);
  • During 2017, 9 prisoners died while in custody. Of these, 4 were non-sentenced;
  • The rate of escapes from penal institutions in 2017 was 54.6 per 10,000 prisoners, representing 21 escapes. Of these, 11 were from ‘closed’ institutions, and 10 were from ‘other types of institutions’. (These ‘other’ escapes were from Oberstown Children Detention Campus. Included in these escapes are: 2 children who escaped from Campus, 4 who absconded whilst under supervision outside the Campus, and 5 who did not return from home leave when they were due to return.);
  • The cost of housing a prisoner in Ireland (€188 per day) was higher than the CoE average (€128);
  • The average amount spent per day for the detention of one person in juvenile detention is €1,036;
  • The SPACE I report notes that the Irish Prison Service employed 1 staff responsible for educational activities. However, the Education and Training Board employs prison educators in Ireland, not the prison administration.

Read the SPACE I Annual Penal Statistics: Prison Populations 2018 here.

Key findings of the SPACE I Annual Penal Statistics: Prison Populations 2018 report are available here.

If you would like to compare these findings to SPACE I 2016, you can find the report here.


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