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10 things I learnt about probation in Europe

New Council of Europe penal statistics publication shows a wide range of approaches to probation across the continent.

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Probation in Europe

Last week I blogged about the Council of Europe’s annual penal statistics relating to prisons. This week I’m taking a look at its sister publication which looks at key stats relating to probation.

45 out of the 52 probation services of the 47 Council of Europe Member States answered the questionnaire and here are the facts that I found of interest — I hope you do too.

[Although published on 8 March 2016, the data relates to 2014.]

1: On 31st December 2014, there were 1,212,479 persons under the supervision or care of the probation services of the responding countries —  an average of 184.7 per 100,000 inhabitants.

2: This represents a decrease of 11.5% in the 4-year period since 2010.

3: Women offenders represented just 6.4% of the total probation population (12.7% in England & Wales).

4: Foreign offenders represented 2.8% of the total probation population.

5: On average there were 6.6 probation workers per 100,000 population.

6: The probation services in Germany and the Netherlands are independent private bodies. [England and Wales will be joining this list in future publications.]

7: There were 148,398 people on probation in England and Wales on 31st December 2014 — there were more probationers in just three other countries: 289,082 (Turkey); 184,115 (France) and 156,358 (Germany).

8: These figures can be compared with the total number of probation staff: 17,070 in England and Wales; 3,643 in Turkey; 4,339 in France and 2,158 in Germany. As you can see, probation staff in other countries have much higher caseloads.

9: But staff in E&W obviously do much more work per case. The also prepare many more reports: 141,932 compared to 560 in Turkey and 9,402 in France (figure not available for Germany).

10. Probation systems vary widely – in Serbia violent offenders serve an average of 4.8 months on probation; in Romania 42.43 months.

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2 Responses

  1. Facsinating.My understanding is that the private sector probation operators in Germany are not for profits, maybe in Holland also, so not your SERCOs etc. The staffing ratios should have Harry Fletcher spluttering into his cocoa!

    It always amazes me, how poor our understanding is of the way criminal justice services operate in Europe – we seem to know more about the US.

    1. Hi Julian
      As in most areas, we’ve always been quite insular. I think the probation systems vary considerably across Europe and I’m not that confident about the comparability of the data – whereas the comparison of prison populations is much more straightforward.


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