This QCEA background paper explores the human impact of widespread pre-trial detention in the European Union. Studies indicate that pre-trial detention both causes harm to individuals and is unlikely to contribute to reducing crime. Pre-trial detainees are less likely than sentenced prisoners to receive support services or to have contact with family members and the community. Major differences in the use of pre-trial detention between EU countries suggest that many people are detained unnecessarily and without having been convicted of a crime. EU Member States have agreed to cooperate on mechanisms such as European Arrest Warrant, that allow their citizens to be transferred to another EU country to await trial abroad. However, this kind of EU cooperation is undermined by poor treatment of pre-trial suspects, including those who have been transferred. The EU and its Member States must implement alternatives to pre-trial detention, as its misuse is both expensive and damaging.

Click here to download a copy of the background paper. (PDF, November 2014)