Corrective Services

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    Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS)


    The collection presents statistical series about persons held in adult corrective services custody or who are serving community-based corrections orders in Australia. It contains data about the number of persons in custody by sex, Indigenous status, type of custody, legal status; the number of 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, Indigenous status and type of order. Rates per 100,000 adult population are also presented for selected data items.


    To provide a national view of prisoners in adult custodial and community-based corrective services agencies in Australia. This is achieved through comparable data across states and territories and provides a basis for informed discussion about accommodation and program delivery for adult prisoners.


    All persons remanded or sentenced to adult custodial corrective facilities or who are serving adult community-based corrections orders in each state and territory in Australia. Counts of prisoners in the following custodial facilities are included in the collection:

    • gazetted prisons in all jurisdictions;
    • periodic detention centres in the Australian Capital Territory;
    • community custody centres and work camps in Queensland
    • cells in courts complexes administered by corrective services in New South Wales;
    • transitional centres in New South Wales; and
    • lock-ups in Western Australia operated by the police but designated as a prison by the Chief Executive Office of Corrective Services.

    The prisons and community-based corrections collection excludes the following custodial facilities:

    • police lock-ups, police prisons and cells in court complexes not administered and controlled by corrective services;
    • gazetted police prisons in the Northern Territory;
    • juvenile detention centres, including those under the authority of adult corrective services;
    • immigration detention centres; and
    • military prisons.

    In all states and territories, except Queensland, persons remanded or sentenced to adult custody are aged 18 years and over. In Queensland 'adult' refers to persons aged 17 years and over. The vast majority of persons counted in the collection are adults. However, juveniles may be included in exceptional circumstances.

    Federal prisoners include those persons charged and sentenced under a Commonwealth statute, and those persons who are charged and sentenced under the laws of another country but transferred to an Australian prison to serve their sentence under the International Transfer of Prisoners Act 1997 (Cwlth). To give practical effect to this legislation in Australia, the framework was introduced in January 2003. For the purposes of this publication, federal sentenced prisoners are those persons who are recognised by the Criminal Law Division of the Australian Government Attorney-General's Department as having been charged and sentenced under a Commonwealth statute, or transferred from another country to serve their sentence in Australia.

    With the exception of Victoria and Tasmania, community-based corrections includes those persons with breached or suspended orders


    Conceptual framework

    The Corrective Services System consists of all persons under state or territory Corrective Services custody or supervision, movement of such persons through the system (e.g. reception) and stages and places through which such persons pass (e.g. legal status, type of custody, type of order).

    Main outputs

    The publication, Corrective Services, Australia (cat. no. 4512.0) presents statistics about the number of prisoners serving custodial sentences and community-based corrections orders nationally and by state and territory.

    The outputs include:

    • number and rate of persons in custody by sex, Indigenous status, type of custody and legal status;
    • number of federal prisoners by sex on the first day of the month;
    • number and rate of persons in community-based corrections by sex;
    • number of persons in community-based corrections by type of order;
    • number and proportion of persons in community-based corrections by Indigenous status;
    • number of prisoner receptions by legal status, sex and Indigenous status;
    • Age standardised rates, crude rates and number of persons in community-based corrections by Indigenous status, as well as age by sex and Indigenous status.

    Data is available in electronic format from the ABS website.


    The Corrective Services Australia collection uses a number of national standards and classifications:

    • sex;
    • Indigenous status;
    • type of custody
    • legal status; and
    • type of order.

    Other concepts (summary)

    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 population for that month.
    • 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. For quarterly figures, the sum of the monthly data is divided by three; for yearly figures, the figures for each month are added and the total divided by twelve.
    • Prisoner reception figures: Counts are provided on the total number of prisoner receptions for each month. Monthly data are aggregated to form quarterly and yearly totals.

    New South Wales
    South Australia
    Western Australia
    Northern Territory

    Comments and/or Other Regions
    All data excludes ‘Other Territories’. Other Territories are Christmas Island, Cocos (Keeling) Islands and Jarvis Bay.


    Frequency comments

    Released quarterly.


    The collection was established in May 1976 by the Australian Institute of Criminology (AIC). The AIC maintained the collection until June 1994. In September 1995 the ABS took over the responsibility for the collection and was provided with all unpublished data from July 1994. The ABS re-established the collection in February 1996 with the publication of the backlog of unpublished information from July 1994 to June 1995. The second publication released in March 1996 presented information for the remainder of the 1995 calendar year. Subsequent issues have been released on a quarterly basis.

    The March quarter 1998 release marked an expansion of the collection, with a wider scope, inclusive of periodic detainees and persons in Community Custody in Queensland and with more detail on type of sentence, legal status and security level, for both the total population and for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander persons. Also in this quarter the National Corrective Services Statistics Unit (NCSSU) released the information as official ABS statistics. Previously it was being released as a report to the Corrective Services Ministers' Council.

    Community-based Corrections information were included for the first time in the September 2000 release.

    Imprisonment rates were included for the first time in December quarter 2003 publication. Rates for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander imprisonment were not included in the September and December quarter publications in 2004.

    Periodic detention rates were removed from the publication in June 2005 and a quarterly comparison table was included in March 2006. Information on the number and proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander persons in community-based corrections was included as experimental data in an appendix in the June quarter 2006 release. These tables were transferred from the appendix to the main suite in the March quarter 2011 publication.

    From the June quarter 2015 reference period, data for custodial and community based post-sentence orders are reported in separate categories. Prior to the June quarter 2015 reference period, post-sentence data were included in the sentenced prisoner and sentenced probation totals respectively.

    Periodic detainee counts were removed from the tables from September quarter 2016.

    From the March quarter 2017, the publication also presented additional information on persons serving community-based corrections as of 30 June 2015 and 2016. Details are provided for each state and territory on the number and crude and age standardised rates of persons serving community-based corrections orders by Indigenous status. Further details on age are provided nationally by sex and Indigenous status as well.

    A 10-year time series of data from June quarter 2007 to June quarter 2017 was presented as a separate datacube in the publication in June quarter 2017. Data includes the number of persons serving custodial and community-based corrections orders by state and territory, as well as breakdowns by sex and Indigenous status.

    Prisoner receptions data (Flow data) was published for the first time in the September quarter 2017 as a separate datacube. This data cube includes breakdowns of prisoner receptions by legal status, sex and Indigenous status.


    Data availability comments

    Data for the previous quarter is published in the last week of the next quarter with the exception for September when data is published in late November.

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