Cyprus recorded the biggest reduction in the number of inmates in 2021 among the countries of the Council of Europe, according to the Council of Europe Annual Penal Statistics for 2021, however, it still remains among the first countries with the highest prison population density.
The overall European imprisonment rate, meaning the number of persons per 100,000 inhabitants, fell slightly in 2020. The countries with the highest incarceration rates in January 2020 were Turkey (357 inmates per 100,000 inhabitants), Russia (356), Georgia (264), Lithuania (220) Azerbaijan (209), Czech Republic (197), Poland (195), Slovak Republic (193) and Estonia (184). Not taking into account countries with less than 300,000 inhabitants, the lowest incarceration rates were found in Iceland (45), Finland (50), Netherlands (59) and Norway (59).
Drug-related offences continued to be the reason for which prisoners had been convicted most often in the 42 prison administrations that provided this data (close to 260,000 inmates representing 17.7% of the total prison population), followed by theft (199,000 inmates, 13%) and homicide – including attempts -(169,000, 12%). Four of every 10 inmates had been convicted for offences involving violence (homicide, assault and battery, rape and other sexual offences, and robbery).