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Council of Europe’s annual penal statistics: Covid-19 pandemic helped reduce Europe’s prison population



The Covid-19 pandemic contributed to reducing the prison population in Europe between January 2020 and January 2021, consolidating a ten-year-long trend in most European states, according to the Council of Europe’s Annual Penal Statistics on Prison Populations for 2021, (see also Key findings).

Key factors contributing to the decrease of the prison population were the reduction in certain types of crimes in the context of the restrictions of movement during the pandemic, the slowing down of the judicial systems, and the release schemes used in some countries to prevent or reduce the spread of Covid-19.

On 31 January 2021, there were 1,414,172 inmates detained in the 49 prison administrations of Council of Europe member states that provided this information (out of 52), which corresponds to a European prison population rate of 102 inmates per 100,000 inhabitants. In the 48 prison administrations for which information is available for both 2020 and 2021, this rate fell from 104.3 to 101.9 inmates per 100,000 inhabitants (-2.3%).

The countries with the highest incarceration rates on 31 January 2021 were Russia (328 inmates per 100,000 inhabitants), Turkey (325), Georgia (232), Azerbaijan (216), Slovakia (192), Lithuania (190) and the Czech Republic (180). Not taking into account countries with less than 300,000 inhabitants, the lowest incarceration rates were found in Iceland (41), Finland (43), Republika Srpska (Bosnia and Herzegovina) (50), Netherlands (54) and Slovenia (54).

The SPACE surveys are conducted every year for the Council of Europe by the University of Lausanne. The SPACE I survey contains information from 52 prison administrations in the Council of Europe member states, whereas the SPACE II survey focuses on probation populations.

Covid-19 pandemic helped to reduce the prison population in Europe: Council of Europe’s annual penal statistics released


Awarding exceptional crime and violence prevention programs for 30 years


Nominations are now open for the 2022 Australian Crime and Violence Prevention Awards (ACVPA). Now in the 30th year, the ACVPA recognise and reward good practice in the prevention or reduction of violence and other types of crime in Australia.

The Australian Institute of Criminology (AIC) Deputy Director Dr Rick Brown said the awards are open to projects of all sizes, including smaller initiatives involving local community groups, that were fully operational before 1 February 2021.

“These awards play a vital role in highlighting effective community-based initiatives to prevent crime and violence,” Dr Brown said.

“I strongly encourage businesses, community networks, and members of the public to nominate local projects that have made an impact on their community by preventing or reducing crime and violence.”

The ACVPA encourage public initiatives, and assist governments in identifying and developing practical projects which will reduce violence and other types of crime in the community.

“In 2021, we recognised 12 programs for their exceptional contributions to crime and violence prevention in the Australian community,” Dr Brown said.

One of last year’s community-led project winners included a culturally safe residential healing and behaviour change program for Aboriginal men who use, or are at risk of using, family violence. The partners and children of those men are also supported by Dardi Munwurro’s Family Safety team.

CEO of Dardi Munwurro, Alan Thorpe, said Ngarra Jarranounith means ‘men’s healing place’.

“Ngarra Jarranounith Place provides holistic support for men to strengthen their culture, adopt positive behaviours and nurture healthy relationships and decrease the risk of family violence,” Mr Thorpe said.

In the police-led category, Project Kairos: Queensland Gangs Exit Program won Gold for reducing the harm caused to the community by outlaw motorcycle gangs.

Acting Chief Superintendent, Roger Lowe, said the project recognises that not all organised crime gang members are created equal.

“Not all gang members are redeemable or want to be redeemed, but many are. We know from our research many joined gangs for the wrong reasons, lured by false promises and regret their decisions. The Exit program provides a safe pathway for those who want to take the step towards change,” Mr Lowe said.

The awards are a joint initiative of the Australian, state and territory governments, coordinated by the AIC.

Nominations close 14 June 2022. To apply for this year’s awards visit

All cops are trusted? How context and time shape immigrants’ trust in the police in Europe


Christian S. Czymara ORCID Icon & Jeffrey Mitchell ORCID Icon

Received 08 Oct 2021, Accepted 11 Mar 2022, Published online: 19 Apr 2022



The relationship between police and ethnic minorities has been the subject of increasing interest in many Western societies in recent years. We examine first-generation immigrants’ trust in the police in Europe from a comparative and longitudinal perspective. Based on roughly 20,000 immigrants observed in 22 countries over 13 years in the European Social Survey, results show that initially high levels of trust in the police among immigrants tend to erode with the length of their stay in the host country. We show that two simultaneous processes drive this pattern: a fading reference effect (downward assimilation) and an increasing discrimination effect. Cross-national comparisons show that, on average, immigrants in countries with more police trust the police less. However, there is no effect of police size within countries, mostly because police numbers hardly change over time. We discuss implications for future research and policy development based on our findings.

Inaugural edition of newsletter from the UN Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Program Network of Institutes

As a member of the United Nations Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Program Network of Institutes (the PNI), the AIC’s work influences policy-makers around the world.

Read more about the work of the PNI and the AIC’s contribution in the PNI newsletter.