Police, court and prison personnel statistics

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Data extracted in July 2020.

Planned article update: August 2021.

Highlights
One police officer per 294 people in the EU (average 2016-2018).
In the EU, one in six police officers was female (average 2016-2018).
Police officers (per hundred thousand inhabitants), EU, average 2016-2018
Source: Eurostat (crim_just_job)

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 2018.

The results cover the European Union (EU), the United Kingdom, as well as partially 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 294 people

Overall, there was one police officer for every 294 inhabitants in the EU-27 (average 2016-2018), or 340 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 was in Finland (137.8), followed by Denmark (188.5), and Sweden (199.6). In ten 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), EU, average 2016-2018
Source: Eurostat (crim_just_job)

One in six police officers is a woman

In the EU, on average for the period 2016 to 2018[1], slightly more than one in six police officers were women (16.9 %). There are large differences between EU Member States, as illustrated in Figure 2. The highest percentage of women police officers was in Lithuania (38.6 %), followed by Latvia (36.6 %), Estonia (35.2 %), the Netherlands (32.5 %), and Sweden (32.3 %).

Figure 2: Police officers, proportion of women, average 2016-2018, %
Source: Eurostat (crim_just_job)

About 1.52 million police officers in the EU-27

In 2018[2], there were about 1.52 million police officers in the EU-27, a figure that has been largely stable since 1999.[3] (see Figure 3).

Figure 3: Police officers, EU-27, 1999-2018
Source: Eurostat (crim_just_job)

In 21 EU Member States, more than half of professional judges are women

In most EU Member States, more than 50 % of professional judges are women. Seventeen EU Member States had an increase in the proportion of women judges, as measured between average 2009-2013 and average 2014-2018[4]. All countries without any increase had more than 50 % of women judges already (see Figure 4 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. Austria and Belgium had the most equal shares of women and men, both having 51 % (average 2014-2018) women.

Figure 4: Professional judges, proportion of women. Average 2009-2013 and average 2014-2018. Percent.
Source: Eurostat (crim_just_job)

Falling number of prison personnel between 2008 and 2018

There were around 241 000 prison personnel in the EU in 2018, following a downward trend since 2008, as illustrated in Figure 5. The reduction generally follows the falling number of prisoners, but may also have other causes.

For various reasons, the number of prison personnel was not reported by all countries for all years. Because of this, the EU total for each year includes 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 5: Prison personnel, EU, 2008-2017
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 2018, 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.

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

Total general government expenditure on public order and safety, 2018, % of GDP.png

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 – 2018: 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 2018 includes 2017 figures for Ireland and Italy (missing 2018 figures)
  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