Police, court and prison personnel statistics

Data extracted in July 2018.

Planned article update: August 2020.

Highlights
There were 326 police officers per 100 000 people in the EU in 2017.
In 2017, 18 % of police officers and 55 % of judges in the EU were women.
Police officers 2017data-02.jpg

This article presents personnel statistics for police, courts, and prisons in the European Union for the period 2008 to 2017, including the number of employees and the proportion of women. The statistics are based on figures provided by national police, courts, and prison administrations.


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One police officer per 307 people

Overall, there was one police officer per 307 inhabitants in the EU in 2017, or 326 police officers per 100 000 inhabitants. However, there are big differences between countries, as illustrated in Figure 1. The lowest number of police officers per 100 000 inhabitants were in Finland (137), followed by Denmark (188), Sweden (198), and England and Wales (212). Some of the differences between countries may be explained by how their law enforcement is organised and which jobs are considered as police work.

Figure 1: Police officers (per hundred thousand inhabitants), EU, 2017
Source: Eurostat (crim_just_job)

One in six police officers is a woman

In the EU, on average for the period 2015 to 2017[1], slightly more than one in six, police officers were women (or 17.7 %). There are large differences between EU countries, as illustrated in Figure 2. The highest proportion of female police officers was in Lithuania (37.5), followed by Latvia (36.2), Estonia (35.0), Netherlands (32.3), and Sweden (31.8).

Figure 2: Police officers, proportion of women, average 2015-2017, %
Source: Eurostat (crim_just_job)

1.66 million police officers in the EU

In 2017[2], there were about 1.66 million police officers in the EU, a figure that has been largely stable since 2009 (see Figure 3).

Table 1: Police officers, EU, 2009-2017
Source: Eurostat (crim_just_job)

More than half of professional judges are women

There were around 84 000 professional judges in the EU in 2017, a figure that has remained relatively stable since 2008. On average for the period 2015 to 2017, about 55 % of judges in the EU were women, with great variation between countries (see Figure 4). Several countries have not reported complete data, which makes the EU total somewhat uncertain, and comparing countries difficult. Another comparison difficulty is when the proportion differs between court types, which in turn depends on the national justice system.

Figure 3: Professional judges, proportion of women. Average 2015-2017. Percent.
Source: Eurostat (crim_just_job)

Falling number of prison personnel between 2008 and 2017

There were around 304 000 prison personnel in the EU in 2017, following a downward trend since 2008, as illustrated in Figure 6. This reduction may have a number of causes, particularly the falling number of prisoners. Due to missing figures, the EU total is adjusted using previously reported figures by country. For this reason, the adjusted EU total may be slightly inaccurate, especially for the last two years. However, personnel figures are often relatively stable, and a trend based on 2008-2015 data (then extended two more years) is very similar to the adjusted series.

Figure 4: Prison personnel, EU, 2008-2017
Source: Eurostat (crim_just_job)

Stable government expenditure on police, courts, and prison personnel

Government expenditure for public order and safety in the EU was 1.7 % of the gross domestic product and 3.7 % of total government expenditure in 2017. Public order and safety includes police, fire-protection, law courts, prisons, and other related services.

The most relevant expenditure for personnel statistics is compensation to employees, which includes wages, salaries, and employers' social contributions. Of the total government compensation to employees, public order and safety was 11.8 % in the EU in 2017. Compensation to employees as a percentage of total general government expenditure was 69.3 % for this sector. Both proportions have been stable since 2008.

Between 2008 and 2017, police services remained stable at around 7.2 % of government expenditure for compensations to employees. Equally stable, law courts constitute around 2 %, and prisons around 1 %. Of the three services, prisons have the largest share (40 %) of expenditure other than personnel (such as premises, equipment, food, clothing, etc.)

Table 2: General government expenditure on compensation of employees, EU, 2008-2017
Source: Eurostat (gov_10a_exp)

Source data for tables and graphs

Data sources

The personnel statistics are based on official figures from national administrations of police, courts, and prisons. Each country provides official national figures to Eurostat as part of a yearly data collection on crime and criminal justice statistics. Available data

  • 1993 - 2007: number of police officers
  • 2008 – 2017: number of police officers, professional judges, prison personnel

Generally, missing data is one of the biggest problems in crime statistics. To measure the EU total accurately, the figure from each EU Member State is needed. Due to various reasons, figures are missing in one or more years for several kinds of crime statistics.

Context

Police, court, and prison personnel statistics give information about the work of law enforcement services and criminal justice administration. The results are based on official figures provided by national authorities such as police, prosecution, courts, and prisons, in addition to statistical offices. Related information includes statistics on registered crime, prison statistics, government expenditure accounts, and employment statistics. The broader context is issues like the occurrence of crime and society's reaction to it; policies concerning safety and security; rule of law; the cost and efficiency of the justice system.

Notes

  1. Due to missing data, a 3-year average is used instead of yearly figures
  2. 2017 figures not reported from five countries, 2016 figures were used instead
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