Crime What percentage of each country's population has a criminal record?


Veteran member
Reaction score
Ethnic group
It's one thing to compare crime rates between countries. But wouldn't it be interesting to know what percentage of the population is responsible for those crimes? Are a lot of people likely to commit misdemeanours and felonies (to use the American terms). Or is it the same small percentage of repeat offenders who commit most crimes? Let's have a look at the stats.

Country% of pop. with criminal recordReference yearMin. age
USA 21%202311 years old
Canada 10%202412 years old
UK 18%202310 years old
Ireland 16.5%201612 years old
Belgium8.75% / 25%*201918 years old
France 11%202013 years old
Italy 12.8%?14 years old

Unfortunately I could not find the data for other countries. Perhaps someone else will have more luck?

Belgium is a special case for two reasons. The first is that the equivalent of the criminal record, what is called the casier judiciaire ("judicial filing cabinet") in French, includes all crimes, misdemeanours and police infractions for any fine exceeding 25 euros or any imprisonment beyond 7 days. In contrast, in most countries individuals who commit minor offenses, such as public drunkenness or traffic offenses do not incur a criminal record. As the lowest fine for a speeding ticket in Belgium is €80 (for driving 1 to 10 km above the speed limit), it's automatically on one's "criminal" record. In fact 65% of criminal records in Belgium are for traffic violations such as speeding tickets (source). If these were excluded, only 8.75% of people in Belgium would have a criminal record — much closer to the percentage in France or Canada.

The second particularity is that most countries delete criminal records after a number of years, depending on the severity of the crime or offence committed. But the offences recorded in the casier judiciaire in Belgium never expire, which also inflates the percentage.

This Wikipedia page explains the differences in the criminal record system between countries.

The minimum age to have a criminal record also varies widely based on the age of criminal responsibility. It is 10 years old in the UK and Australia, 11 years old in the US, 12 years old in Canada, Ireland and the Netherlands, 13 years old in France, 14 years old in Germany, Italy, Spain and Japan, but 18 years old in Belgium. So Belgium is very unique in that it has the highest age of criminal responsibility, but keeps records for life and even for minor offences.
Last edited:

This thread has been viewed 552 times.