The World Prison Brief is an online database providing free access to information on prison systems around the world. It is a unique resource, which supports evidence-based development of prison policy and practice globally.

The World Prison Brief is hosted by the Institute for Criminal Policy Research (ICPR), at Birkbeck, University of London. It was launched in 2000 using data compiled by Roy Walmsley, Director of the World Prison Brief.

ICPR hosts and updates the World Prison Brief as part of its World Prison Research Programme. This programme, which involves collaboration with research partners, civil society organisations and policy makers, aims to inform and promote debate and policy reform.

In addition to providing access to the World Prison Brief database, this website holds other publications by ICPR and its original host, the International Centre for Prison Studies (which merged with ICPR in 2014). These include the World Prison Population Lists, the handbook on A Human Rights Approach to Prison Management, and bimonthly International Prison News Digest. See the International Prison Publications page.

The latest World Prison Population List, published in 2016, reports that there are likely to be in excess of 11 million prisoners worldwide.

New ICPR publications

ICPR's World Female Imprisonment List (4th edition), published on 9 November 2017, shows that more than 714,000 women and girls are held in penal institutions throughout the world. Read more here

ICPR’s new report Prison: Evidence of its use and over-use from around the world looks at patterns of imprisonment in ten contrasting jurisdictions across all five continents of the world. The report presents a brief history of imprisonment in each of the ten countries, and consider what lessons might be learnt for reducing use of custody worldwide. The report is available here 

ICPR’s book Imprisonment Worldwide: The Current Situation and an Alternative Future is available from Policy Press (£7.99 when ordered directly from the publishers). It can also be purchased from Amazon in paperback and Kindle versions.