Belgian Prison Population

The Council of Europe Annual Penal Statistics for 2015-2016 are in. Compiled from the 47-nation Council of Europe by the University of Lausanne, the report saw a 2.2% rise from 2015 to 2016 in Europe’s prison population which currently numbers at 859,102.

This comprehensive report of 2015-2016 analyses those prisons and inmates by taking a multitude of factors into account. Inmate quantity, incarceration time, overcrowding; the list goes on. Although nuanced within each respective category, highly populated countries like the UK, France, Germany and Spain often rank high for things like the number of incarcerated, and consequently, had the highest budgets for prison administration, averaging about €2 billion.

Belgium had mixed results

Belgium has 45 penal facilities holding a population of 10,619. Belgium has one of the highest proportion of foreign inmates in Europe with 44%. Switzerland and Luxembourg rank top with both having over 70%.

Suicide in incarceration also ranked highly in the prison systems, as Belgium recorded 12.5. Scores that largely coincide with the Netherlands, and trail behind Switzerland and France.

The organisation responsible for prison administration is SPF Justice, and their budget in 2013 was €1,902,125,000; increasing 1.82% from 2012 mainly to hire additional prison guards.

This move was attributed to the number of new prisons opened, as the number of people incarcerated has seen increasing growth since 2000.

Prison Population
Belgian Prison Population since 2000

However, the new report shows Belgian incarceration rates fell significantly, dropping by 10% between 2015-2016, although, some Belgian prisons remain overcrowded, housing 119 inmates in spaces for 100.

This has strained services, and budget cuts to the prison system in 2016 saw many guards strike in what they believe to be “dangerously low staffing”, claimng the cuts made them unable to offer some inmates basic rights such as showers, three meals a day, family visits and access to lawyers.