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4512.0 - Corrective Services, Australia, March 2012 Quality Declaration 
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 14/06/2012   
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INSTITUTIONAL ENVIRONMENT

The management of adult persons in custody and those on remand is the responsibility of state and territory corrective service agencies. Information about these persons is recorded by the corrective services agency for operational and case management purposes. Corrective services statistics published by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) are based on data extracted from these administrative records held by corrective services agencies in each state and territory, and from the Australian Government Attorney-General's Department for details about federal prisoners.

Within the ABS, corrective services statistics are produced by the National Corrective Services Statistics Unit (NCSSU). The NCSSU operates under the auspices of an Inter-Governmental Agreement between the Commonwealth and the Corrective Services Ministers of each of the states and territories. One of the major functions of the Unit is to compile, analyse, publish and disseminate nationally comparable corrective services statistics.

For information on the institutional environment of the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), including the legislative obligations of the ABS, financing and governance arrangements, and mechanisms for scrutiny of ABS operations, please see ABS Institutional Environment.


RELEVANCE

This publication presents statistical series about persons either held in adult corrective services custody or who are serving adult community-based orders in Australia. It contains data about the number of persons in custody by sex, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander status, type of custody, legal status and sentence type; the number of sentenced persons received into corrective services custody each month; the number of federal prisoners; and data about the number of persons in community-based corrections by sex, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander status and type of order.

Statistics presented in this publication are compiled in three ways:

    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 number for that month. The average daily periodic detainee population is a count of persons in 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 about 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 prisoners and persons serving community-based corrections orders, taken on or near the first day of the month.



TIMELINESS

Data from the corrective services collection is released quarterly in Corrective Services, Australia (cat. no. 4512.0) and accompanying data cubes within approximately 2 months of the reference period. Each release includes data for the current quarter, along with 3 year time series for some data items.


ACCURACY

The data are extracted from the administrative records held by corrective services agencies in each state and territory, and from the Australian Attorney-General's Department for details about federal prisoners. The data are not subject to sampling error. Non-sampling errors can arise from inaccuracies in recording by corrective services agencies, when data is extracted, processed and disseminated. The ABS has limited influence over any errors associated with data recorded by external sources. The ABS works with the corrective services agencies to develop a consistent set of rules for scope, coverage, counting rules and data item definitions to minimise data extraction errors. Efficient processing and editing procedures are in place within the ABS to minimise processing and reporting errors.

Revisions to data may be made when new information about the accuracy of previously published data has been identified.


COHERENCE

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 the quality assurance strategy, the ABS is working with corrective services agencies to minimise the effect of these differences.

In all states and territories except Queensland, persons are considered adults if aged 18 years and over. In Queensland persons are considered adults if aged 17 years and over.

Statistics for persons held in custody are presented by the state or territory in which they were held and this may not be the state or territory in which they were sentenced.

The ABS also publishes an annual publication that provides a snapshot of all prisoners taken as at midnight 30 June of each year: Prisoners in Australia (cat. no. 4517.0). The publication provides breakdowns of prisoners by a number of characteristics not available for the corrective services publication such as prisoner age, country of birth and most serious offence. Data about persons serving community-based orders are not available from the Prisoner Census. These data are not comparable to those in Corrective Services, Australia due to differences in counting units and/or date of collection.

The corrective services collection does not collect information about individuals held under the authority of juvenile justice agencies.


INTERPRETABILITY

The Corrective Services, Australia publication contains detailed Explanatory Notes and a Glossary which provides information about the data sources, counting rules, terminology, classifications and other technical aspects associated with these statistics.

To assist in the comparison across states and territories, imprisonment rates are included in the publication. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander imprisonment rates are included to allow for meaningful comparisons of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous prisoner populations.


ACCESSIBILITY

In addition to the information provided in the publication, a series of supplementary data cubes are also available providing detailed breakdowns by states and territories.

If the information you require is not available from the publication or the data cubes, then the National Centre for Crime and Justice Statistics may be able to help you with a customised service to suit your needs. Email: <crime.justice@abs.gov.au>


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