Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland prison population lowest in UK - but number of lifers second highest in Europe

By Claire Cromie

Northern Ireland has the lowest prison population in the UK - with 101.3 offenders behind bars for every 100,000 people.

The figure may come as a surprise following Maghaberry jail's recent condemnation as the most dangerous prison in the UK.

It compares to 149.7 in England and Wales and 147.6 in Scotland.

The number was revealed in a Council of Europe report on overcrowding and pressure on capacity in jails.

But the report also shows that we have the second highest proportion of lifers in Europe - with 12% of Northern Ireland prisoners serving life sentences. Only Scotland records a higher figure at 16.2%.

The Council of Europe's Space report on prisons found jails across the continent in 2014 were at near capacity with more than 1.6 million people behind bars.

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