Fewer days in prison in 2017
Compared to the historic peak year of 2016, the number of prison days for all types of imprisonment was lower in 2017.
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For all types of imprisonment in institutions as a whole, a total of 1 378 000 days were spent in prison facilities in 2017, which is a 5 per cent drop from the year before. Except for the last two years, the overall scope of the serving of sentences in prison is higher in 2017 than in all previous years with comparable statistics. The number of custody days, on the other hand, is the lowest for eight years.
New figures from the statistics on imprisonment show that the use of electronic monitoring (EM) – also known as home detention with an ankle monitor – as an alternative to sentences served inside prison is about level with the year before. The number of days served in preventive detention saw an increase of 13.6 per cent, thus exceeding all previous years since the introduction of preventive detention in 2002.
In absolute numbers, the decline in prison days is most prominent for those serving sentences inside prison, but the decrease in custody days is even greater in relative figures. In 2017, 335 000 days were served in custody, which corresponds to an average of 918 persons being held in custody at any given time.
This equals a drop of as much as 9 per cent from the year before, and is considerably lower than the historically high level of custody days in the period 2010-2016, as shown in figure 1.
1 Prison sentence by electronic monitoring (2008-2017) not included. The age of criminal responsibility is 14 years until 1989, and 15 years from 1990.
Figure 1. Average number of prison population, by type of imprisonment¹
|Preventive detention/security detention||Prison sentence, institution||Serving sentence for non-payment of a fine||Custody|
Less use of custody, especially for those under 30 years
In 2017, 2 937 custody detentions were commenced, which is 9 per cent fewer than the year before, and as much as 18 per cent fewer than the average number from the previous five-year period. The decline in custody detention was most prominent among the youngest age group, and persons under the age of 30 now make up a considerably smaller share of all persons held in custody detention. In 2017, the share for persons under 30 years of age was 39 per cent, while the corresponding share in 2012 was 48 per cent.
Shorter custody detentions
In 2017, a total of 3 049 custody detentions were completed, which is 4 per cent less than the year before. Furthermore, the number of completed custody days saw a bigger relative decline than the number of custody detentions, which is due to the average duration of custody detentions being shorter in 2017 than the year before. This marks a break from the trend of recent years with annual increases in the average duration of custody detentions.
Less serving of unconditional prison sentences
In 2017, 973 000 days were served in prison institutions, which is 4 per cent less than the year before. Furthermore, there was also a decrease in unconditional prison sentences commenced in 2017. There were 6 165 unconditional imprisonments in 2017, including transfers from custody detention, which is 9 per cent less than the year before. In addition, 2 873 sentences served with electronic monitoring were commenced in 2017, which for the first time does not represent an increase from the year before.
The 2017 decrease in the total scope of completed and commenced sentences must be seen in relation to the development over the previous two years. In particular, 2016 saw a big increase in sentences served in institutions, with a rise in shorter sentences served. However, the waiting list to serve sentences in prison was considerably reduced during 2016, which partly explains the 2017 drop in the number of prison days served in institutions. Furthermore, the decrease is also affected by the 2017 drop in unconditional imprisonments sanctioned by the courts, which was 13 per cent less than the year before.
Fewer served sentences for violence and maltreatment
As shown in figure 2, violence and maltreatment was the principal offence for a total of 2 036 commenced sentences in 2017. This is 190 fewer than in 2016, and fewer than in any of the previous five years. A decrease is seen both for offences of violence and threats, especially in sentences commenced for inflicting bodily harm, assaulting public servants and maltreatment in close relations. The overall drop in sentences served for violence and maltreatment is related to the clear-up rate and the number of completed police investigations for offences in 2017, as well as the 2017 decrease in court sanctions for such offences.
Figure 2. Commenced prison sentences, by principal group of offence and year
|Other offences (incl. Criminal damage)||70||63||76||65||73||74|
|Public order and integrity violations||535||576||506||538||592||533|
|Drug and alcohol offences||3170||3323||3411||3621||3820||3647|
|Violence and maltreament||2105||2266||2167||2163||2225||2036|
|Other offences for profit||1003||934||1029||1232||1315||1215|
During the last five-year period, fewer sentences were commenced for committing property theft. From 2013 to 2017, the number of sentences commenced for theft was reduced by more than one third. This development is an overall and long-standing trend in all of the other crime statistics.
More people served over one year in prison
In 2017, the number of discharges from serving sentences in institutions for less than two months is lower than in the previous nine years. If we disregard the peak year of 2016, the ten-year trend of fewer short sentences served in prison facilities continued in 2017, which is closely related to electronic monitoring being introduced as an alternative to prison in 2009. Thus, these developments mean that a bigger share of those serving sentences inside prison now serve longer sentences, as shown in figure 3. For example, the 550 discharges from serving sentences of more than one year in a prison institution is 12 per cent more than the previous ten-year average.
Figure 3. Discharges, by prison time and year
|Over 1 year||4.10||4.83||4.09||4.82||4.96||4.89||5.32||5.67||5.80||6.30||7.44||7.40||8.61||9.62||8.54||9.55|
Reid Jone Stene
Statistics Norway's Information Centre