A basic concept in the Swedish sanctions system is to avoid imprisonment when possible.

Imprisonment complicates the transition to a life of freedom and does not counter-act recidivism. That is why there are more people on probation than in prison in the Swedish Prison and Probation Service.

Our non-custodial clients number about 14,000 per day, compared with just over 4,500 prisoners per day.


Probation is the most common non-custodial sanction and places the convicted person under supervision, normally for one year. There is also a trial period of three years. Serious breaches of probation can lead to the sentence being served in prison instead. Probation can also be combined with a shorter prison sentence or a fine.

The Probation Service

The Probation Service is aimed primarily at the supervision of persons conditionally released on probation, with or without contract treatment/community service; intensive supervision with electronic monitoring; work at remand centres and prisons and preparing client social reports.

A client sentenced to probation or who has been released from prison on probation is assigned a supervising probation officer. The probation officer can be a part of the probation system or a layman. Each client has a special schedule for the probation period, regulating how often he or she meets the probation officer.