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4513.0 - Criminal Courts, Australia, 2010–11 Quality Declaration 
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 24/02/2012   
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Contents >> Magistrates' Courts >> ABORIGINAL AND TORRES STRAIT ISLANDER DEFENDANTS

ABORIGINAL AND TORRES STRAIT ISLANDER DEFENDANTS

Limited data about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander defendants are presented for the second time in this publication. This information is available for defendants finalised in the Magistrates' Courts in New South Wales, Queensland and the Northern Territory only.

The majority of defendants in the Magistrates' Courts with a traffic offence as their principal offence have an unknown Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander status. This is because most traffic offences are related to fines issued by road traffic authorities, who do not collect or record Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander status. These defendants have a large impact on the proportion of unknowns in the data, therefore they have been removed to enable a focus on those defendants that are more likely to have been in contact with police and have their Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander status recorded.

Other offence categories that may also be affected by this issue are: public order; offences against justice procedures, government security and operations; and miscellaneous offences. This should be taken into account when comparing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous data for these offence categories. For further information on the identification of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander defendants in the Criminal Courts collection (see Explanatory Notes paragraphs 49-52).


New South Wales

In the Magistrates' Courts in 2010-11, 8,502 (12%) defendants finalised in New South Wales identified as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander.

The proportion of males and females varied for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander defendants when compared to non-Indigenous defendants. In New South Wales, 27% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander defendants were female compared to 17% of non-Indigenous defendants.

There was also variation when comparing offence categories. The three main offence categories for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander defendants adjudicated were: acts intended to cause injury (42%); theft (12%) and public order (11%). For non-Indigenous defendants, the three main offence categories were acts intended to cause injury (37%), illicit drugs (16%), and theft (12%).

In the Magistrates' Courts the majority of defendants proven guilty are sentenced to non-custodial orders. When comparing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander defendants with non-Indigenous defendants, the proportions of custodial to non-custodial orders varied in 2010-11. In New South Wales, almost one-third (32%) of guilty Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander defendants were sentenced to a custodial order compared to 15% of guilty non-Indigenous defendants (Table 3.12).


Queensland

In the Magistrates' Courts in 2010-11, 17,066 (20%) defendants in Queensland identified as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander.

The proportion of males and females varied for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander defendants when compared to non-Indigenous defendants. In Queensland, 31% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander defendants were female compared to 20% of non-Indigenous defendants.

There was also variation when comparing offence categories. In Queensland, the three main offence categories for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander defendants adjudicated were: public order (45%), offences against justice procedures, government security and operations (17%), and theft (9%). For non-Indigenous defendants the three main offence categories were public order (24%), illicit drugs (18%), and offences against justice procedures, government security and operations (17%).

When comparing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander defendants with non-Indigenous defendants, the proportions of custodial to non-custodial orders varied in 2010-11. In Queensland 13% of guilty Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander defendants were sentenced to custodial orders compared to 8% of guilty non-Indigenous defendants (Table 3.12).


Northern Territory

In the Magistrates' Courts in 2010-11, 3,956 (72%) defendants in the Northern Territory identified as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander.

The proportion of males and females was similar for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander defendants and non-Indigenous defendants: 17% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander defendants were female compared with 14% of non-Indigenous defendants.

There was also variation when comparing offence categories. In the Northern Territory, the three main offence categories for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander defendants adjudicated were: acts intended to cause injury (40%), offences against justice procedures, government security and operations (19%), and public order (11%). For non-Indigenous defendants, the three main offence categories were: illicit drugs (22%), acts intended to cause injury (20%), and offences against justice procedures, government security and operations and theft (both 12%).

When comparing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander defendants with non-Indigenous defendants, the proportions of custodial to non-custodial orders varied in 2010-11. In the Northern Territory, more than half (54%) of guilty Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander defendants were sentenced to custodial orders compared to 28% of guilty non-Indigenous defendants (Table 3.12).


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