The Dutch prison population shrank by a further 8% in 2015 and is now 20% down on 10 years ago, the national statistics office CBS said on Thursday.
Last year, nearly 39,800 men and women were in prison or a remand home. Of them, 18% were aged 18 to 25, compared with 22% in 2005. People aged 45 to 65 now account for nearly a quarter of the prison population, compared with 16% 10 years ago.
The Dutch prison population has been falling steadily for years alongside the crime rate. In 2006 the Netherlands had the second highest number of inmates in Europe with 125 prisoners per 100,000 population. But by last year the Dutch were down to Scandinavian levels, with 69 out of every 100,000 citizens behind bars.
The prison occupancy rate had fallen so far that jails have been closed and last year the government agreed to take in prisoners from Norway and Belgium, where there is a shortage of prison capacity.
The make up of the prison population has, however, remained unchanged over the years, the CBS said. Over 36% of prison occupants have a native Dutch background and 18% are western immigrants. People with Moroccan roots account for 11% of the prison population, from the former colonies of Suriname 9% and Aruba 8%.
Almost four in 10 of the prison population had been jailed for theft, burglary or robberies while three in 10 had committed violent or sexual offences. One in five were inside for drugs related crimes.
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