4500.0 - Crime and Justice News, Apr 1999  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 21/05/1999   
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National Corrective Services Statistical Unit

Quarterly Custodial Collection

The December quarter 1998 Corrective Services Australia publication (ABS Catalogue No. 4512.0) has just been released. This publication is now in its fourth issue and contains results for the year 1998. See Main Features for Corrective Services, Australia, December Quarter 1998 ( ABS Catalogue No. 4512.0) for the Summary of Findings for the current issue.

Major findings of the December quarter publication were:

    • In the December quarter 1998, the average number of prisoners in Australia was 19,631, an increase of 2.7% on the September quarter 1998.
    • From December quarter 1997 the average number of prisoners in Australia increased by 8.7%. The average daily number of prisoners increased between December 1997 and December 1998 in all States except South Australia and Northern Territory.
    • Nationally, the daily average imprisonment rate was 139 prisoners per 100,000 adult population. This compares with 135 in the September quarter 1998, and 129 in the December quarter 1997.
    • Of the average number of prisoners in Australia during the December quarter 1998, 94.2% were males.
    • There was an average of 72% of prisoners in secure prison custody.
    • Information on Indigenous prisoners is not currently available for New South Wales. The highest rates of Indigenous imprisonment were recorded in Western Australia (2,755 Indigenous persons per 100,000 adult Indigenous population), Queensland (1,787) and South Australia (1,639).
Community Based Corrections

The NCSSU will soon ask each State and Territory Corrections Agency for data for a national Community-Based Corrections (CBC) collection. The NCSSU's Advisory Group has been involved in the development of this collection on a consultative basis and will continue to be approached for comment as data and further investigative results become available.

The framework for the collection has been largely settled upon, and contains the following features:

    • The collection will initially release information on the number of persons rather than orders, although numbers of person with each type of order will be tabulated;
    • Data items to be collected will be Sex, Indigenous Status and Order Type in the first stage;
    • Data collected will be unit record data, with one record per active order;
    • Point-in-time (stock) data will be collected and published in the first stage, and flow data in a later stage;
    • The collection will commence with a reference date of 1 April 1999, and the beginning of each quarter after that.
The results of the collection will be published in the June quarter Corrective Services Australia, due to be released in September 1999.

National Corrections Advisory Group Meeting

In February 1999 staff of the NCSSU attended the meeting of the National Corrections Advisory Group (NCAG) in Hobart. This involved NCSSU staff in discussions relating to the Review of Government Service Provision and the NCAG benchmarking process. NCSSU staff took the opportunity to raise several issues relating to the NCSSU's own work program.

During this meeting NCAG members discussed the revised statistical framework for CBCs, and some Prisoner Census issues relating to timing and content. This further confirmed the basis on which the NCSSU's work is informed and influenced by Agency policies.

Prisoner Census

The 1997 Prisoner Census report (Prisoners in Australia) was released in September 1998, nine months after the release of the previous Census publication. The 1998 Census report is due for release at the end of May 1999. This report will include revised Country of Birth statistics, which have been absent from reports since the 1994 report due to problems with data quality.

During 1999 and 2000 work will be done to expand the existing national corrective services statistical framework to incorporate the Prisoner Census. This work will involve revision of the collection to standardise data across jurisdictions, and to bring the collection into line with the revised Quarterly Custodial Collection. The NCSSU is aiming to release the 30 June 1999 Prisoner Census publication as an ABS catalogued release, subject to satisfactory statistical standards being achieved. The expected release date is June 2000.