The Netherlands’ prison population has steadily decreased since 2006. The number of prisoners fell from 20,463 in 2006 to 9,315 in 2018, representing a decrease of more than 50%.

Experts have put forward a number of explanations for this. These include, principally, declining recidivism, increased use of alternatives to imprisonment, and the major budget cuts announced in 2013. In recent years, Dutch prisons have been gradually emptying, with 29 prisons closing between 2013 and 2018. As a result, staff numbers have fallen by 53% since 2012.

Budget cuts and decreasing prisoner numbers have resulted in a 53% reduction in the number of staff since 2012.

Physical conditions of detention are considered to be in line with standards.

The complaints procedure for prisoners is highly regarded at the European level. A Complaints Committee is appointed in each facility to deal with issues independently and effectively.

Human rights organisations have taken issue with the detention conditions for persons imprisoned for terrorism. No appropriate legal aid is made available to them.

The Supervisory Committees for each facility are highly regarded. The Dutch National Preventive Mechanism (NPM) is regularly criticised for its lack of independence and its complex structure.

Country population


/ Council of Europe,"Space I - Report 2018", p.28.

Type of government

Constitutional monarchy

Human Development Index



/ Source: United Nations Development Programme, "Report on human development".

Homicide rate (per 100,000 inhabitants)


/ United Nations Development Programme, "Report on human development".