Relativity of and gaps in sources of statistics on pretrial detention

by Bruno AUBUSSON DE CAVARLAY – june 2006

 

Bruno AUBUSSON de CAVARLAY, a researcher working at the CNRS and member of the Monitoring Commission for Pretrial Detention since 2002, presents an analysis of statistics on pretrial detention1 and draws some conclusions. This discussion partially reproduces some developments to be found in the annual report. His comments on these statistical sources are purely personal.

 

In France, the question of pretrial detention in the criminal justice system has always been controversial, as shown by the frequency of the legislative reforms modifying the requisites for this measure. A study of the place of pretrial detention in the French criminal justice system would require access to detailed data broken down for type of offence at each step in the penal process, from the intervention of criminal investigation departments of the police to the final procedural decision. For the time being, a follow-up of this sort – for which a few exploratory monographs do exist – cannot be conducted on the basis of standard criminal justice statistics. For each level in the system, the sources available yield figures, which can only be made to link up with considerable difficulty. On some points there are large gaps, allowing only for fragile estimates.

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