Cyprus had the most overcrowded prisons in EU in 2021, with almost 50% more prisoners than what the prison was designed to hold, according to data published by Eurostat on Friday.

With prison occupancy rate 100 being the official capacity of prisons, Cyprus has an overcrowding rate of 146, the highest in EU.

Overall, prisons in eight EU countries are overcrowded, while 17 countries had extra capacity.

Following Cyprus, Romania has an overcrowding rate of 116, France 114, Greece and Italy 108, Sweden 102, Croatia and Denmark 101.

The lowest prison occupancy rates were recorded in Malta with 65 and Estonia and Latvia with 66. In 14 out of the 25 EU countries that provided data in 2021, the prison occupancy rate increased compared with 2020, when the decrease was likely due to COVID-19-related measures.

In 2021, there were 475,038 prisoners in the EU, equivalent to 106 prisoners per 100.000 people. The prisoner rate increased after a decline in 2020, when it was 104 prisoners per 100,000 people, but remained the second-lowest figure since the turn of the century.

The highest prisoner rates per 100,000 people in 2021 were in Hungary and Poland with 191, followed by Slovakia with 185. The lowest rates were in Finland with 51 prisoners per 100,000, Slovenia with 54, and the Netherlands with 65. Cyprus had 89 prisoners per 100,000 people in 2021.