Talks on leasing prison capacity in the Netherlands

"We inherited a challenging situation with inadequate prison capacity from the previous government. In order to substantially increase our prison capacity in the short term, we are now in talks with Dutch authorities concerning the leasing of detention space in the Netherlands," says Anders Anundsen, Minister of Justice and Public Security.

"We inherited a challenging situation with inadequate prison capacity from the previous government. In order to substantially increase our prison capacity in the short term, we are now in talks with Dutch authorities concerning the leasing of detention space in the Netherlands," says Anders Anundsen, Minister of Justice and Public Security.

This autumn, the Norwegian government will present a white paper concerning the state of our prisons and the need for future prison capacity. The white paper will lay the foundation for the government’s long term priorities.

An analysis conducted by Statsbygg, the government’s key advisor in construction and property affairs, in 2013, shows that there is a significant backlog of maintenance work needed to be carried out in Norwegian prisons, estimated to cost between NOK 3.3 and 4.4 billion. It is possible that the maintenance work will cause prisons or branches of prisons to close temporarily. In addition, the queue of convicts waiting to serve their sentence is increasing. At the moment, the queue is at 1.300 custodial sentences, while there is a great demand for detention space.

"The situation is urgent, and we must consider taking short term measures. Leasing prison capacity abroad may contribute to alleviating the situation. That is why we have started talks with the Netherlands," says Anundsen.

The Netherlands has already leased prison capacity to Belgium for several years. If Norway is going to send convicts to serve their sentences in the Netherlands, it will involve some practical challenges that must be addressed. These will be considered in the process. It is currently too early to say anything about the scope and cost of the project, and how the practical challenges are to be solved.