In Brief

Jail numbers in England are highest in western Europe

More prisoners serving life sentences than in Spain, France, Italy and Germany

wd-prisons.jpg

England and Wales have the biggest prison populations in western Europe, according to official figures released this week.

A report by the Council of Europe found the imprisonment rate was 148.3 prisoners per 100,000 population, compared to 137.9 in Spain, 98.3 in France, 86.4 in Italy and 77.4 in Germany.

In addition, figures out yesterday show 10.2 per cent of prisoners in England and Wales are serving life sentences, more than double the European average.

The overall prison population fell by just 0.8 per cent in 2014-15.

However, these figures are still far below those of eastern Europe, where there are 439 per 100,000 people in prison in Russia, followed by Lithuania (277), Georgia (274), Azerbaijan (249), Latvia (223), Turkey (220) and Moldova (219).

Overall, the prison population in the 45 countries that took part in the survey stood at 1.4 million in 2015, with drug offences remaining the most common crime across Europe.

Drug offenders form 18.7 per cent of the total prison population, with people serving sentences for homicide representing 13.2 per cent, reports The Times.

The figures were released as another prison inspection report found further evidence of violence and poor conditions in UK prisons. 

The chief inspector of prisons said inmates in Swinfen Hall jail, in Staffordshire, were held in cells where the windows had been missing glass for around two years.

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