Tuesday 9/22/20

Finland, a country of empty prisons

In Finland there are 56 people imprisoned per 100,000 inhabitants, while the European Union average is 116. On average in the EU, 5% of prisoners are women.
Outside fence of Kerava prison, now closed. Photo: © Foreigner.fi.
Outside fence of Kerava prison, now closed. Photo: © Foreigner.fi.

Finland is the member state of the European Union (EU) with less inmate population in relation to the number of inhabitants. In the country of ice and snow there are 56 people imprisoned for every 100,000 inhabitants. That number is less than half of the EU average, which is 116 prisoners per 100,000 inhabitants.

The statistical office of the EU (Eurostat), has released the latest comparative data on inmate population in the EU. According to those figures, in 2017, across the continent there were on average 116 prisoners per 100,000 people, a rate which is the lowest since 2,000.


Among the Member States, the highest rate was observed in Lithuania (232 prisoners per 100 000), followed by Czechia (209), Estonia (207), Poland (196) and Latvia (193).

In contrast, the lowest prisoner rates are in Denmark (59), Sweden (57) and Finland (56).

Outside the EU there is a country with even lower rate of people imprisoned: Iceland (39).

On average in the EU, 5% of prisoners were women.

Less criminal offences


Finland is considered a secure place, though some forms of criminality are on the rise.

According to the latest data published by Statistics Finland, the number of criminal offences decreased in the country in 2019 compared to the previous year.

Crimes fell in most of its forms. However, there are some types of offences that have increased, for the concern of citizens and authorities, such as sexual abuse (also against minors), fraud and property crimes.

According to Statistics Finland's preliminary data, a total of 447,400 offences against the Criminal Code were recorded by the police, customs and border guard in the course of 2019, which is 3,900 cases (1%) more than in 2018.

In total, there were 213,200 offences against property, which is 3% more. And altogether 4.5% more rapes were recorded.

Assault offences numbered 33,500 during 2019, which is 0.4% fewer than in 2018. The number of aggravated assaults recorded was 1,600 (-1%).

The recorded number of offences against life was 75, which is 10 cases fewer than in 2018. Attempted homicides numbered 322, which is 33 cases fewer than in the year before.