Non custodial sanctions and measures

The SPACE II project, created by the Council of Europe in 1992, collects information on persons serving non-custodial and semi-custodial sanctions and measures. These sanctions and measures are frequently referred to as alternatives to imprisonment.

The survey is not designed to cover all the existing non-custodial and semi-custodial sanctions and measures. The ones included are basically those suggested by the Council of Europe in Rule 15 of Recommendation No R (99)22 on prison overcrowding and prison population inflation, in Recommendation No R (2000)22 on improving the implementation of the European rules on community sanctions and measures, and in Recommendation CM/Rec (2010)1 on the Council of Europe Probation Rules. Most –but not all– of them are community sanctions and measures (CSM) as defined by the Council of Europe. According to Recommendation No R (92)16 and Recommendation CM/Rec (2010)1, CSM are to be understood as “sanctions and measures which maintain offenders in the community and involve some restrictions on their liberty through the imposition of conditions and/or obligations. The term designates any sanction imposed by a judicial or administrative authority, and any measure taken before or instead of a decision on a sanction, as well as ways of enforcing a sentence of imprisonment outside a prison establishment”.

Persons serving a CSM are usually referred to as persons on probation, and are normally placed under the supervision of a probation agency. In accordance with Recommendation CM/Rec (2010)1, the term probation “relates to the implementation in the community of sanctions and measures, defined by law and imposed on an offender. It includes a range of activities and interventions, which involve supervision, guidance and assistance aiming at the social inclusion of an offender, as well as at contributing to community safety”. Also according to the same Recommendation, probation agency “means any body designated by law to implement the above tasks and responsibilities. Depending on the national system, the work of a probation agency may also include providing information and advice to judicial and other deciding authorities to help them reach informed and just decisions; providing guidance and support to offenders while in custody in order to prepare their release and resettlement; monitoring and assistance to persons subject to early release; restorative justice interventions; and offering assistance to victims of crime.”

SPACE II covers the number of persons who have been under a community sanction or measure. This information is divided in two sections: figures of stock (the number of persons under CSM on 31 December of each reference year), and figures of flow (the number of persons having started the execution of CSM during the year).

SPACE II does not cover post-prison supervisory or probation measures applied to offenders after they have served their sentence.

SPACE II does not cover sanctions and measures imposed by the juvenile criminal law or applicable only to juveniles.

In the SPACE II survey, the concepts of “probation”, “probation supervision” and “community sanctions and measures” are used in a broad sense in order to take into account the great variety of national practices across Europe. None of these concepts is used in a rigid legal sense.

For information, Recommendation CM/Rec (2010)1 contains a number of definitions including definitions of “probation” and “probation agency”.

The goal of the survey is to gather and compare, in a reliable way, the information provided by Member States of the Council of Europe. In order to allow comparisons at the European level, States were asked to adapt their national categories to the categories proposed by SPACE II. Moreover, in order to improve the validity of such comparisons, the questionnaire used for the survey included questions on the particularities of the sanctions and measures used in each country and had enough room for comments.