Australian Bureau of Statistics

Rate the ABS website
ABS Home > Statistics > By Release Date
ABS @ Facebook ABS @ Twitter ABS RSS ABS Email notification service
1301.0 - Year Book Australia, 2002  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 25/01/2002   
   Page tools: Print Print Page RSS Feed RSS Bookmark and Share Search this Product  
Contents >> Crime and Justice >> Most serious offence

The most serious offence is the offence for which prisoners have received the longest sentence. Nearly half (47%) of all sentenced prisoners were convicted of offences involving violence or the threat of violence, including homicide (10%), assault (11%), sex offences (12%), and robbery (14%) (table 11.24). Some 12% were in prison for break and enter, while a further 10% were serving sentences for drug offences and 5% were convicted of driving offences.


11.24 SENTENCED PRISONERS, By Most Serious Offence(a) - 30 June 2000

Offence Category
NSW

%
Vic.

%
Qld

%
SA

%
WA

%
Tas.

%
NT

%
ACT(b)

%
Aust.

%
Aust.

no.

Homicide
7.4
11.7
11.8
15.2
8.4
13.9
10.6
10.2
9.7
1,744
Assault
12.2
5.7
12.2
10.7
9.2
6.8
22.3
6.8
10.9
1,949
Sex offences
9.8
13.3
15.5
10.0
14.8
11.9
8.9
12.2
12.3
2,199
Robbery
13.6
11.6
15.4
14.3
15.3
11.0
4.1
15.0
13.7
2,453
Break and enter
10.9
12.9
10.7
14.8
13.2
18.7
7.4
8.8
11.8
2,109
Fraud and misappropriation
4.2
3.5
2.5
7.8
2.5
1.0
0.4
0.7
3.5
635
Other theft
5.9
9.2
5.6
4.6
5.2
8.1
6.3
8.2
6.2
1,113
Government security(c)
11.3
10.3
4.2
6.3
7.1
11.0
3.5
8.2
8.6
1,535
Drug offences
11.7
10.8
8.9
7.5
8.6
1.9
3.6
16.3
9.9
1,777
Driving offences
7.7
0.6
1.9
0.8
3.7
5.5
10.8
4.1
4.5
811
Other offences
5.2
10.3
11.3
8.0
11.8
10.3
22.1
9.5
8.9
1,604
Total
100.0
100.0
100.0
100.0
100.0
100.0
100.0
100.0
100.0
17,929

(a) The most serious offence is the offence with the longest sentence a prisoner has received. Where the sentences are equal, or the longest sentence cannot be determined, the most serious offence is the offence with the lowest Australian National Classification of Offences code.
(b) Prisoners sentenced to full-time custody in the ACT are held in NSW prisons and are also included in the NSW figures.
(c) Government security offences include offences such as treason; they also include offences against justice procedures, such as perjury and resisting police.

Source: Prisoners in Australia, 2000, Companion Data (4517.0).


Differences between men and women in the prison system extend beyond the fact that there were 16 male prisoners for every female prisoner. There were also some differences in the types of offences for which men and women were imprisoned, reflecting the differences in the patterns of offending between men and women. Graph 11.25 shows that the most common offences for males in 2000 were robbery (14%), sex offences (13%), break and enter (12%) and assault (11%). In the case of female prisoners, nearly half (48%) of the most serious offences were accounted for by drug offences (13%), robbery (13%), fraud and misappropriation (12%) and government security offences (10%).


Aggregate length of sentence is a measure of the sentences imposed on an offender, taking multiple offences into account. It is not measured for prisoners who receive an indeterminate type of sentence such as life, and periodic detainees' sentences are measured separately. At 30 June 2000 the average aggregate sentence of all prisoners was 4.8 years. Male prisoners were serving an average aggregate sentence of 4.9 years, compared to an average of 3.4 years for female prisoners.

Prisoners serving sentences of one year to less than five years accounted for the highest proportion of prisoners in all States and the Northern Territory (table 11.26). Prisoners with indeterminate sentences made up 5% of all prisoners.


11.26 SENTENCED PRISONERS, Proportion by Aggregate Length of Sentence(a)(b) - At 30 June 2000

Length of sentence
NSW(c)

%
Vic.

%
Qld

%
SA

%
WA

%
Tas.

%
NT

%
ACT(c)

%
Aust.

%

Less than 1 year
17.3
27.5
16.1
9.1
13.9
31.3
31.4
10.9
18.3
1 to <5 years
32.3
39.8
35.1
40.7
43.0
42.9
43.0
38.1
36.4
5 to <10 years
20.3
19.0
26.6
28.4
22.8
9.0
12.8
31.3
21.8
10 years and over
11.4
12.1
13.7
10.4
12.9
7.4
6.3
17.0
11.9
Indeterminate (e.g. life)
1.7
1.7
8.5
11.5
7.3
9.4
6.5
2.7
4.7

(a) Excludes periodic detainees, who comprised 6.9% of all sentenced prisoners nationally. (Periodic detention applies only in NSW and in the ACT.)
(b) The aggregate sentence is the longest period that the offender may be detained under sentence in the current episode. Charges pending which are likely to extend the current episode are ignored.
(c) Prisoners sentenced to full-time custody in the ACT are held in NSW prisons and are also included in the NSW figures.

Source: Prisoners in Australia, 2000, Companion Data (4517.0).


Previous PageNext Page

Bookmark and Share. Opens in a new window


Commonwealth of Australia 2014

Unless otherwise noted, content on this website is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 Australia Licence together with any terms, conditions and exclusions as set out in the website Copyright notice. For permission to do anything beyond the scope of this licence and copyright terms contact us.