Statistics Explained

Police, court and prison personnel statistics

Data extracted in July 2021.

Planned article update: July 2022.

Highlights

One police officer per 299 people in the EU (average 2017-2019).
In the EU, one in six police officers was female (average 2017-2019).
One professional judge per 5 136 people in the EU (average 2017-2019).
In 19 EU Member States, more than half of professional judges are women.
[[File:Police court and prison personnel September 2021 Fig 4.xlsx]]

Professional judges, average 2017-2019 (per hundred thousand inhabitants)


This article presents personnel statistics for police, courts, and prisons in Europe, including the number of employees and the proportion of women. Most results are from the period 2008 to 2019.

The results cover the European Union (EU), as well as the EFTA countries, the candidate countries and the potential candidate countries. Official figures are provided by national police, courts, and prison administrations.


Full article

One police officer per 299 people

Overall, there was one police officer for every 299 inhabitants in the EU (average 2017-2019[1]), or 334.0 police officers per 100 000 inhabitants. The value was slightly lower than the previous three-year average (339.4 police officers per 100 000 inabithants). However, there are big differences between countries, as illustrated in Figure 1. The lowest number of police officers per 100 000 inhabitants was in Finland (137.8), followed by Denmark (190.6), and Sweden (198.4). In nine EU Member States the figure was over 400. Due to differences in how countries organise law enforcement, there may be differences in which jobs count as police.

Figure 1: Police officers (per hundred thousand inhabitants), average 2017-2019
Source: Eurostat (crim_just_job)

One in six police officers is female

In the EU, on average for the period 2017 to 2019, slightly more than one in six police officers were women (17.4 %). There are large differences between EU Member States, as illustrated in Figure 2. The highest percentage of women police officers was in Lithuania (39.3 %), followed by Latvia (39.2 %), Estonia (35.3 %), the Netherlands (33.7 %), and Sweden (32.6 %). In all EU countries, with the exception of Luxembourg and Bulgaria, the percentage of women among police officers in the period 2017-2019 increased compared to the average for the period 2016-2018.

Figure 2: Police officers, percentage of women, average 2017-2019, %
Source: Eurostat (crim_just_job)

About 1.49 million police officers in the EU

In 2019[2], there were about 1.49 million police officers in the EU, a figure that has been largely stable since 1999.[3] (see Figure 3).

Figure 3: Police officers, 1999-2019
Source: Eurostat (crim_just_job)

One professional judge per 5 136 people

Overall, there was one professional judge for every 5 136 inhabitants in the EU (average 2017-2019), or 19.5 professional judges per 100 000 inhabitants. However, there are big differences between countries, as illustrated in Figure 4. The highest number of professional judges per 100 000 inhabitants was in Slovenia (42.9), followed by Croatia (42.6), Greece (40.4), Luxembourg (32.0) and Bulgaria (31.5). There were fewer than 15 professional judges per 100 000 inhabitants in nine EU Member States (the Netherlands, Cyprus, Denmark, Spain, Italy, Malta, Sweden, Czechia and Austria).

Figure 4: Professional judges, average 2017-2019 (per 100 000 inhabitants)
Source: Eurostat (crim_just_job)

In 19 EU Member States, more than half of professional judges are women

In nineteen EU Member States, more than 50 % of professional judges are women, in four member states the percentage of woman among professional judges is between 45 % and 49 % and four Member States did not provide data for the period 2015-2019 (Estonia, Ireland, Greece and Czechia). Seventeen EU Member States, out of 21 which provided data for both periods, had an increase in the proportion of women judges, as measured between average 2009-2014 and average 2015-2019[4]. The four countries without any increase had more than 50 % of women judges already (see Figure 5 for more details). Note that the percentage of women may differ between type of judge and type of court, which in turn depends on the national justice system.

Figure 5: Professional judges, percentage of women, averages 2009-2014 and 2015-2019
Source: Eurostat (crim_just_job)

Constant number of prison personnel between 2016 and 2019

There were around 242 000 prison personnel in adult prisons in the EU in 2019. After a decrease between 2013 and 2016, the value has remained stable since then, as illustrated in Figure 6. The reduction generally follows the falling number of prisoners, but may also have other causes. In 2019 just over one in four prison personnel were women (26.2 %). This percentage has been steadily increasing since 2009.

For various reasons, the number of prison personnel and its breakdown by sex was not reported by all countries for all years. Because of this, the EU total and percentage value for each year include some figures reported for previous years. On the one hand, such a figure is less accurate in a year with many missing figures. On the other hand, when the reported figures are relatively stable within countries, it is likely that the overall trend is also relatively stable.

Figure 6: Prison personnel and percentage of women in adult prisons, 2008-2019
Source: Eurostat (crim_just_job)

Government expenditure on police, courts, and prisons

Government expenditure for public order and safety in the EU was 1.7 % of the gross domestic product in 2019, of which 0.9 % was for police services, 0.3 % for law courts and 0.2 % for prisons. The remaining part of government expenditure for public order and safety was for fire-protection and other services. The values are stable compared to the previous year.

For more information, see the Statistics Explained article Government expenditure on public order and safety and the table General government expenditure by function.

Table 1: Total general government expenditure on public order and safety, 2019, % of GDP

Source data for tables and graphs


Data sources

Data are 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. Due to missing reporting, any EU total in this article is presented for illustration only.

Available data

  • 1993-2007: number of police officers
  • 2008-2019: number of police officers, professional judges, prison personnel; total, men and women

Context

Police, court, and prison personnel statistics relate to the work of law enforcement services and criminal justice administration. The basic data are made for administrative purposes and mainly used by governments and authorities such as police, prosecution, courts, and prisons.

Related statistics include police-reported crime, prison statistics, government expenditure, and employment statistics. Related issues include occurrence of crime; society's reaction to crime; safety and security policy; rule of law; effectiveness of the justice system.

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Notes

  1. Due to missing data, a 3-year average is presented instead of yearly figures
  2. The total for 2019 includes 2018 figures for Belgium and France (missing 2019 figures) and last available data for Ireland (missing since 2015)
  3. The apparent change between 2007 and 2009 is mostly due to technical reasons.
  4. This comparison was chosen because of missing figures for several countries/years