New FRA Report and Database on Criminal Detention Standards

The ‘Criminal detention conditions in the European Union: rules and reality’ report by the European Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA) outlines selected minimum standards at international and European levels, and how they translate into national laws. It also shows how these rules apply in practice focusing on:

  • Cell size: Overcrowding often leads to prisoners having less than 3m2 per prisoner,
    violating the recommended minimum of 4m2.

  • Time outside: Member States do not always regulate how long prisoners can spend
    outside their cell. Sometimes prisoners spend one hour per day outside their cell, which
    especially is insufficient in overcrowded prisons.

  • Sanitation: Dirty prisons with limited access to bathrooms breach international and
    national laws, even though conditions are slowly improving.

  • Healthcare: Although prisoners should benefit from the same level of healthcare as the
    public, staff shortages often lead to delays. They also lack privacy during their

  • Violence: Fights, sexual violence and bullying among prisoners is common in many
    Member States, despite the States’ obligation to protect inmates under their custody.

For each of these aspects of detention conditions, the report first summarises the minimum standards at international and European levels. It then looks at how these standards are translated into national laws and other rules of the EU Member States.

The new online criminal detention database complements the report. It contains national
standards, laws and monitoring reports on detention conditions by National Preventive Mechanisms from across the EU.

Report and database aim to assist judges and other legal practitioners involved in cross-border cases based on the EU’s mutual recognition instruments, such as the European Arrest Warrant (EAW).

Will the database also be useful for your work as NPM?