Thursday 14 November 2019

Norway signs deal to rent Dutch prison cells

Norgerhaven prison in the Netherlands
Norgerhaven prison in the Netherlands

Charlotte McDdonald-Gibson

Dutch authorities will now accept prisoners from Norway as low crime rates and judges favouring non-custodial sentences has left the country with more guards than prisoners.

Known for its liberal approach to social justice, the Netherlands has been struggling to justify the costs of its prison system.

On Tuesday though the country came up with an innovative solution to solve this problem.

Justice officials from the Netherlands and Norway have signed a deal which will see the Dutch provide the cells if the Norwegians provide the inmates.

Over the next three years – pending approval from the Dutch and Norwegian parliaments – about 250 convicts from Norway will serve their time at the Norgerhaven prison in the north of the Netherlands.

A measure that will ensure that 240 Dutch people will remain employed: “That’s why we’re doing this with the Norwegians today – to make sure we don’t have to fire people,” said Jaap Oosterveer, spokesman for the Dutch ministry of justice.

The Netherlands already have a similar arrangement with Belgium, and the Norwegian government will cover the €25m-a-year cost of housing the prisoners and will train Dutch staff in Norwegian prison rules.

“That means a prison without isolation cells for punishment, and without a common visitors’ room," said Dutch State Secretary for Justice, Fred Teeven.

"[In Norway] prisoners receive their visitors in private. And it means observing Norwegian public holidays.”

Norway needs to 'export' the prisoners as a major overhaul of its jails means a shortage of space.

Prisoners’ organisations have raised concerns about the human rights implications of housing inmates in a separate country.

Family visits will be more difficult if they have to travel across borders, while the guards and inmates will also speak different languages.

Independent News Service

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Editors Choice

Also in World News