Growing migrant crime in Catalonia

Essays - September 12, 2023

On 27 June 2023, the Council of Europe has published its 2022 Penal Statistics on prison population.

The trends in incarceration rates depend greatly among different Member States, with sixteen countries surging, only three decreasing and most (24) remaining stable.

Among those with stability lies Spain, yet its prison population rate per 100,000 inhabitants scores high, as for North Macedonia, Portugal, Romania, Ukraine and Ukraine.

If the Spanish lens is further focused to produce a closer detail, greater shadows appear in Catalonia.

This is all the more relevant since Spain. together with Bosnia Herzegovina and the United Kingdom, is one of only three nations where the prison administration is not unified, but dispersed among various regions (in the case of Spain, shared between the State central administration and the autonomous community of Catalonia).

The proportion of foreigners in Catalonia’s prisons is quite alarming, if this is compared to the rest of Spain.  In Catalonia, 48% of prisoners are foreigners, while the European average is 24.8% and the rest of Spain is 26.6%.

Of the 48% of foreign prisoners in Catalonia, only 12.3% are European Union citizens, so 35.7% of all prisoners in Catalan prisons are non-European Union nationals.  Worryingly, 91.4% of Catalan prisoners have the status of legal residents, which means that the requisites for granting the residence should be strengthened.

In the total of Spain, almost 20% of all prisoners do not have the status of legal residents.  This is why Member of the European Parliament Jorge Buxadé Villalba has submitted a question to the European Commission on the following day to the publication of the Council statistics.

The VOX politician demands Mrs. Von der Leyen’s team whether they have a plan concerning immigrants who illegally enter the European Union territory.  An astronomic 61% of all EU prisoners do not have the status of legal residents.

Moreover, the ECR member reminds that, according to Frontex, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, entries to the territory of the European Union on behalf of illegal immigrants have increased by 30% compared to 2022, which shows that the disastrous tendency should urgently be reversed.

European society does not want illegal immigrants who come to commit crime in Europe.  Consequently, Mr. Buxadé has invited the European Commission to expedite as much as possible the return processes for immigrants who are committing crime in the European territory.

Coming back to the data on Catalonia, the Spanish region also rates very high in suicide rate per 10,000 inmates, as well as in rates of escapes per 10,000 inmates.  This latter measure appears as particularly significant in terms of a low quality of prison management.

It contrasts with the financial resources respectively dedicated to prisons in Catalonia as opposed to the rest of Spain.  For Catalonian prisons, the budget per day is €173.60, more than double the budget in the rest of Spain (€71.43).  And yet the numbers that have been shown above do not demonstrate more efficacy by the regional government in Barcelona.

Source of image:  Herodotus, blog of social science, by Antonio Boix, 9 January 2023.