1 This publication presents statistical series on persons held in either adult corrective services custody or who are serving adult community-based orders in Australia. It contains data on the number of persons by their sex, Indigenous status, type of custody, legal status and sentence type; the number of sentenced persons received into corrective services custody each month; and the number of federal prisoners.
2 Statistics presented in this publication are compiled in three ways:
3 Although national standards and classifications are used in the compilation of these statistics, some discrepancies remain between the states and territories. These are due to legislative and procedural differences between jurisdictions and the way that these differences are reflected in agencies' administrative data systems. As part of its quality assurance strategy, the ABS is working with corrective services agencies to minimise the effect of these differences.
- Average daily prisoner population: Counts taken on each day of the month are summed and divided by the number of days in that month to determine the average daily prisoner population for that month. The average daily periodic detainee population is a count of persons on periodic detention on each day a centre is open, divided by the number of days a centre is open.
- Sentenced prisoner reception figures: Counts are provided each month on the number of receptions where a prisoner is received as a sentenced prisoner. This includes prisoners with a change of legal status from unsentenced to sentenced.
- First day of the month prisoner population: Counts of prisoner populations, taken on or near the first day of the month (see Explanatory Notes, paragraphs 4 and 5), and counts of persons serving community-based corrections orders.
4 The reference period for average daily prisoner population statistics and sentenced reception counts is the complete reference month. Prior to the December quarter 2004, average daily statistics for Australian Capital Territory prisoners held in New South Wales could not be supplied, and a single count taken on a specific day of the month was used instead. The reference date for all other figures is the first day of the reference month. However, not all states and territories report strictly according to this 'first day of the month' rule:
5 Calculation of figures for the entire quarter and entire year varies depending on the counting unit and method of counting prisoners:
- The Western Australian and Victorian prison population and Australian Capital Territory prisoners in New South Wales prisons are counted as at midnight on the last day of the month. In these cases the figures provided are taken to represent the prison population at the beginning of the following month to align with practices in other states and territories.
- Prior to the September quarter 2004, the New South Wales prison population was counted on the last Sunday of the month. The New South Wales community-based corrections population is counted on the first day of the month.
- Average daily figures: Figures are calculated by weighting the average according to the number of days in each month or year.
- First day of the month: Figures are simple averages. For quarterly figures, the sum of the monthly data is divided by three; for yearly figures, the figures for each month are added and the total divided by twelve.
- Sentenced receptions: Figures are totals of each month.
- These figures may be subject to rounding.
6 The scope of the statistics in this publication includes all persons remanded or sentenced to adult custodial corrective services agencies (including Work Outreach Camps and Community Custody Centres in Queensland), or who are serving adult community-based orders in each state and territory in Australia.
7 Counts of prisoners in the following custodial facilities are included in the collection:
8 The prisons and community corrections collection excludes the following custodial facilities:
- gazetted prisons in all jurisdictions
- periodic detention centres in New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory
- Community Custody Centres and Work Outreach Camps in Queensland
- cells in court complexes administered by corrective services in New South Wales
- transitional centres in New South Wales
- lock-ups in Western Australia operated by the police but designated as a prison by the Chief Executive Officer of Corrective Services.
9 This collection includes counts of persons remanded or sentenced to adult custody facilities, or directed to serve community based orders administered by adult corrective services agencies. In all states and territories except Victoria and Queensland, persons are considered adults if aged 18 years and over. In Victoria and Queensland persons are considered adults if aged 17 years and over. The vast majority of persons counted in the collection are adults. However, juveniles may be included in exceptional circumstances.
- police lockups, police prisons and cells in court complexes not administered and controlled by corrective services
- gazetted police prisons in the Northern Territory
- juvenile detention centres, including those under the authority of adult corrective services
- immigration detention centres
- military prisons.
10 Federal prisoners include those persons charged and sentenced under a Commonwealth statute, and those persons who are charged and sentenced under the laws of another country but transferred to an Australian prison to serve their sentence under the International Transfer of Prisoners Act 1997 (Cwlth). To give practical effect to this legislation in Australia, the framework was introduced in January 2003. For the purposes of this publication, federal sentenced prisoners are those persons who are recognised by the Criminal Law Division of the Australian Government Attorney-General's Department as having been charged and sentenced under a Commonwealth statute, or transferred from another country to serve their sentence in Australia.
11 Community-based corrections includes those persons with breached or suspended orders, with the exception of Victoria and Tasmania.
12 Statistics in this publication are derived from information provided to the ABS from administrative records held by corrective services agencies within each state and territory. Statistics on federal prisoners are derived from records kept by the Criminal Law Division of the Australian Government Attorney-General's Department.
13 Tasmanian first day of month data for reference periods prior to the September quarter 2003 are under enumerated. Prior to January 2004, sentenced reception figures for Tasmania do not include all prisoners changing from unsentenced custody to sentenced custody.
14 New South Wales have implemented regular quality assurance processes on their community-based corrections data. Prior to the September quarter 2003, pre-sentence reports were omitted from reported bail figures, and therefore data for earlier reference periods are under enumerated.
15 Statistics for persons held in custody are presented by the state or territory in which they were held and therefore may not be the sentencing jurisdiction. The only exception to this are data for federal sentenced prisoners. These are presented by the state or territory in which they were sentenced, not where they were held in custody.
16 Sentenced prisoners who have other offences that are unsentenced are counted as sentenced. Prisoners may be unsentenced because they are awaiting the outcome of their trial, convicted but awaiting sentence, or awaiting deportation.
17 If an offender has two or more different types of community-based orders operating simultaneously, then each order will be counted. If two or more community-based orders are of the same type, these orders together will only be counted as one order.
18 In all states and territories persons are asked during entry into custody whether they are of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander origin. It is uncommon for corrective services agencies to collect Indigenous status information from sources other than the person's own identification.
19 Some persons in custody are recorded with an unknown Indigenous status on the information systems of corrective services agencies as their status has not been able to be obtained. Persons with Indigenous status unknown are excluded from tables 10-13. Counts of persons with an unknown Indigenous status are included in all other tables.
AUSTRALIAN CAPITAL TERRITORY PRISONERS
20 Persons sentenced to full-time custody by the Australian Capital Territory are usually held in New South Wales prisons. The Australian Capital Territory has two remand centres for unsentenced prisoners and a periodic detention centre. During 2000 the Australian Capital Territory commenced detaining prisoners sentenced for fine default only at their remand centres. Unsentenced Australian Capital Territory prisoners may also be detained in New South Wales prisons.
21 To provide greater understanding of the number of prisoners attributed to the Australian Capital Territory, while presenting an accurate picture of the New South Wales prisoner population, statistics relating to Australian Capital Territory prisoners in New South Wales prisons are presented as a subset of the New South Wales figures.
22 Imprisonment rate data for the Australian Capital Territory are included in the publication and are calculated on the basis of the total number of Australian Capital Territory prisoners (i.e. Australian Capital Territory prisoners held in New South Wales prisons, and Australian Capital Territory prisoners held in the Australian Capital Territory) divided by the estimated resident Australian Capital Territory adult population and multiplied by 100,000. For New South Wales, the imprisonment rate is based on the count of New South Wales prisoners, excluding Australian Capital Territory prisoners held in New South Wales prisons, divided by the estimated resident New South Wales adult population and multiplied by 100,000. Time series data have also been derived on this basis.
23 Imprisonment and community-based corrections rates enable comparisons of prisoner numbers to be made across states and territories. Prisoner and community-based corrections rates are expressed per 100,000 adult population.
24 In this publication the population figures used in the calculation of rates are for persons aged 18 years and over for all states and territories except Victoria and Queensland where the population is persons aged 17 years and over (see Explanatory Notes, paragraph 9).
25 Rates for the total adult prisoner population and persons in community-based corrections are calculated using the estimated resident population (ERP) for each of the states and territories (refer Australian Demographic Statistics (cat. no. 3101.0)). All estimates for the Australian Capital Territory exclude Jervis Bay Territory. All estimates for Australia exclude the external territories of Christmas Island and the Cocos (Keeling) Island. As the population changes over time the denominator used for the calculation of rates varies, depending on the reference period. The most current ERP data available at the time of publication are used to calculate rates as follows:
Indigenous imprisonment rates
26 Rates for the Indigenous adult population in this publication are based on the low series projections for 30 June of the current calendar year (refer to Experimental Estimates and Projections, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, 30 June 1991 to 30 June 2009 (cat. no. 3238.0)). These projections are based on the 2001 Census of Population and Housing.
- for the March quarter, ERP is from the previous September quarter;
- for the June quarter, ERP is from the previous December quarter;
- for the September quarter, ERP is from the previous March quarter;
- for the December quarter, ERP is from the previous June quarter; and
- annual rates are an average of the rates of the contributing quarters.
27 The low series are one of two series of these projections that have been published for the years 2002 to 2009.
28 The decision to use the low series as the denominator in the calculation of Indigenous imprisonment rates from 2002 followed consultation with the National Corrective Services Statistics Unit Advisory Group and other stakeholders.
- The low series assumes no ‘unexplained growth’ - that is, the Indigenous population recorded in the 2001 Census of Population and Housing is projected to change only as a result of births and deaths (natural increase) and, for the states and territories, as a result of interstate migration.
- The high series assumes that there will be ‘unexplained growth’ in the Indigenous population - that is, the Indigenous population is projected to change as a result of an unexplained component in addition to the effects of natural increase and interstate migration. The size of the unexplained component is based on the ‘unexplained growth’ observed between the 1996 and 2001 censuses.
Revisions to historical Indigenous rates
29 Historical rates for Indigenous prisoners have been revised using Indigenous population projections based on the 2001 Census of Population and Housing (low series) for 2002 to 2004.
30 The administrative classification of the following NSW correctional facilities was altered at 1 July 2005: Cooma, Dilwynia, Paramatta and Berrima. These facilities changed classification from 'open' to 'secure' to reflect alterations in the profile of inmates held, and the operational requirements of those centres. As such, the proportion of persons in secure and open custody altered in the September quarter 2005 compared to previous quarters.
31 In December 2004 Victoria's Beechworth Prison closed while a new correctional facility (Beechworth Correctional Centre) opened in February 2005. The old Beechworth Prison was classified as medium security and the new Correctional Centre is classified as minimum security. Data previously published for secure custody were overcounted and open custody were undercounted. Data for the March and June quarters have been revised to reflect this change.
32 The Maryborough Correctional Centre, Queensland, was officially opened in April 2003. The Centre has the capacity to hold 500 prisoners.
33 Data extracted from the South Australian information system for the June quarter 2005 and September quarter 2005 may be subject to data processing time lags. Procedures to overcome this have been implemented for the December quarter 2005.
34 During 2003 in Western Australia there was an increase in the number of Indigenous persons sentenced to imprisonment by the courts, mostly in relation to 'Driving/Traffic', 'Against the Person' and 'Justice/Good Order' offences.
35 A range of amendments to Western Australian corrections legislation came into effect in 2003 and 2004. As a result, bail figures were included for the first time in the December quarter 2003 for Western Australia. Prior to the September quarter 2004, counts of restricted movement orders included conditional bail orders (that may have a restricted movement condition). All conditional bail orders are now counted as bail orders.
36 In the June quarter 2005, Western Australia implemented a strategy to reduce the number of fine defaulters being taken into custody by offering alternative means of payment. This has resulted in a decrease in the number of sentenced receptions into custody for the September quarter 2005.
37 In the Northern Territory, over the 12 months to 30 June 2003, there was an increase in the number of Indigenous persons sentenced to imprisonment for a range of assault and driving offences.
38 Other ABS publications that may be of interest include:
39 Current publications and other products released by the ABS are listed in the Catalogue of Publications and Products (cat. no. 1101.0). The Catalogue is available from the ABS web site. The ABS also issues a daily Release Advice on the web site that details products to be released in the week ahead. The National Centre for Crime and Justice Statistics releases a biannual newsletter that is published on the ABS web site. The Centre can be contacted by email through <firstname.lastname@example.org>.
Australian Demographic Statistics (cat. no. 3101.0) - issued quarterly
Australian Social Trends (cat. no. 4102.0) - issued annually
Australian Standard Offence Classification (cat. no.1234.0) - irregular
Crime and Safety, Australia (cat. no. 4509.0) - irregular
Criminal Courts, Australia (cat. no. 4513.0) - issued annually
Experimental Estimates and Projections, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, 30 June 1991 to 30 June 2009 (cat. no. 3280.0)
General Social Survey: Summary Results, Australia (cat. no. 4159.0) - irregular
Information Paper: Measuring Crime Victimisation, Australia: The Impact of Different Collection Methodologies (cat. no. 4522.0.55.001) - single issue
Information paper: National Information Development Plan for Crime and Justice Statistics 2005 (cat. no. 4520.0) - single issue
Measures of Australia's Progress (cat. no. 1370.0) - issued annually
Prisoners in Australia (cat. no. 4517.0) - issued annually
Recorded Crime - Victims, Australia (cat. no. 4510.0) - issued annually
Sexual Assault in Australia: A Statistical Overview (cat. no. 4523.0) - single issue
Year Book Australia (cat. no. 1301.0) - issued annually
40 Non-ABS sources that may be of interest include:
Department of Justice, Northern Territory, Northern Territory Quarterly Crime and
Australian Institute of Criminology, List of Publications - irregular
Crime Research Centre, University of Western Australia, Crime and Justice Statistics
Department of Corrective Services, New South Wales, NSW Inmate Census - irregular
Department of Justice, Victoria, Statistical Profile of the Victorian Prison System
NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research, New South Wales Criminal Courts
Office of Crime Statistics and Research, South Australia, Crime and Justice in South
Steering Committee for the Review of Commonwealth/State Service Provision,
This page last updated 21 June 2006