4517.0 - Prisoners in Australia, 2014 Quality Declaration 
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 11/12/2014   
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MEDIA RELEASE

11 December 2014
Embargo: 11.30 am (Canberra time)
177/2014

Australian prisoner numbers climb to ten year high

The number of prisoners in Australia reached a ten year high of 33,791 at 30 June 2014, according to Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) figures released today.

"The ten year high comes on the back of the largest annual increase in prisoner numbers since 2004," said William Milne from the ABS.

"Both the number of male and female prisoners has increased by ten per cent over the last year, continuing their ten year upward movement.

"The annual increase in prisoner numbers has also pushed the national imprisonment rate up to a ten year high of 185.6 prisoners per 100,000 adult persons.

"Queensland experienced the largest annual increase in prisoner numbers, up 16 per cent and this was followed by Victoria, up 14 per cent.

"The only state to see an annual fall in prisoner numbers was Tasmania, where it fell by seven per cent," said Mr. Milne.

Other key findings from the 2014 Prisoner Census:

  • Three in five prisoners (59 per cent) had served a sentence in an adult prison prior to the current episode.
  • The median age of male and female prisoners was similar (34.0 and 34.5 years respectively).
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander prisoners accounted for 27 per cent of the total Australian prisoner population.
  • Overseas-born prisoners accounted for 18 per cent of all prisoners.
  • The most common offence for which male prisoners were in custody was acts intended to cause injury (21 per cent), followed by sexual assault, unlawful entry with intent and illicit drug offences (all 12 per cent).
  • The most common offence for which female prisoners were in custody was acts intended to cause injury (20 per cent), followed by illicit drug offences (17 per cent) and offences against justice (11 per cent).

Further information can be found in Prisoners in Australia, 2014 (cat. no. 4517.0), available as a free download from the ABS website (www.abs.gov.au).

Media Notes:

  • When reporting ABS data the Australian Bureau of Statistics (or ABS) must be attributed as the source.
  • Media requests and interviews - contact the ABS Communications Section on 1300 175 070.