4512.0 - Corrective Services, Australia, Dec 2003  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 25/03/2004   
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1 This publication presents statistical series on persons held in either adult corrective services custody or who are serving community-based orders in Australia. It contains data on the number of persons by their sex, type of custody, legal status and sentence type; the number of sentenced persons received into corrective services custody each month; the number of Indigenous persons in corrective services custody by their sex, legal status and sentence type, and the number of federal prisoners.

2 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. The average daily periodic detainee population is a count of persons on 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 on the number of receptions where a prisoner is received as a sentenced prisoner plus the number of changes of legal status from unsentenced to sentenced.
  • First day of the month prisoner population: Counts of prisoner populations, taken on or near the first day of the month (see Explanatory Notes, paragraphs 4 and 5).

3 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 its development strategy, the ABS is working with corrective services agencies to minimise the effect of these differences.


4 For the average daily prisoner population and the sentenced prisoner receptions counts, the reference period is the complete reference month. For all other information in the publication, the reference date is the first day of the month. However, not all states and territories report strictly according to this 'first day of the month' rule:
  • The Western Australian and Victorian prison population and Australian Capital Territory prisoners in New South Wales prisons are counted as at midnight on the last day of the month. In these cases the figures provided are taken to represent the prison population at the beginning of the following month to align with practices in other states and territories.
  • The New South Wales prison population is counted on the first Sunday of the month.
  • In January 1999 ACT Corrections commenced sending some unsentenced prisoners to New South Wales prisons. These unsentenced ACT in NSW prisoners are shown on a daily average basis in table 5.

5 Calculation of figures for the entire quarter and entire year varies depending on the counting unit and method of counting prisoners. These figures may be subject to rounding:
  • Average daily figures: Figures are calculated by weighting the average according to the number of days in each month or year.
  • First day of the month: Figures are simple averages. Quarterly figures for each month are added and the total is divided by three; for yearly figures, the figures for each month are added and the total divided by twelve.
  • Sentenced receptions: Figures are totals of each month.


6 The scope of the statistics in this publication includes all persons remanded or sentenced to adult custodial corrective services agencies or who are serving community-based orders in each state and territory in Australia, including Work Outreach Camps and Community Custody Centres in Queensland. Community-based corrections includes those persons with breached or suspended orders, with the exception of Tasmania.

7 In all states and territories except Victoria and Queensland, persons remanded or sentenced to adult custody are aged 18 years and over. Persons under 18 years are treated as juveniles in most Australian courts and are not remanded or sentenced to custody in adult prisons, other than in exceptional circumstances. However, in Victoria and Queensland, 'adult' refers to persons aged 17 years and over.


8 Statistics in this publication are derived from information provided to the ABS from administrative records held by corrective services agencies within each state and territory. Statistics on federal prisoners are derived from records kept by the Criminal Law Division of the Commonwealth Attorney-General's Department.

9 The Australian Capital Territory Corrective Services Department has advised that the numbers of Indigenous prisoners sentenced in Australian Capital Territory courts and held in New South Wales prisons had been under reported. This under reporting was resolved from April 2000. No adjustments to data prior to April 2000 were able to be made.

10 Tasmanian prisoner data for first day of month counts in table 5 for reference periods prior to the September quarter 2003 are under enumerated. Data are currently being investigated and may be revised.

11 New South Wales Community-Based Corrections data are subject to ongoing quality assurance processes undertaken in this state. Prior to the September quarter 2003, pre-sentence reports were omitted from reported bail figures. Bail figures in Table 18 relating to earlier reference periods are under enumerated.

12 Queensland prisoner data for the March quarter 2002 have been revised(tables 1-6, 8-12) to include all prisoners held in Community Custody Centres. Queensland sentenced receptions (table 7) for the March quarter 2002 to the June quarter 2003 have also been revised due to ongoing quality assurance processes undertaken in this state. Data prior to 2002 have not been revised and may be under enumerated.


13 In all states and territories persons are asked during entry into custody whether they identify as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander. It is uncommon for corrective services agencies to collect Indigenous status information from sources other than the person's own identification.

14 Some persons in custody are recorded as of unknown Indigenous status on corrective services agencies' information systems, but unknown Indigenous status has not been provided for this collection. Such persons are designated as non-Indigenous. It is intended that unknown Indigenous status will be collected from these systems in future.


15 The Australian Capital Territory has a detention centre for unsentenced prisoners and a periodic detention centre. With the exception of some sentenced fine default only prisoners, persons sentenced to full-time custody by Australian Capital Territory criminal courts are held in New South Wales prisons.

16 During 2000 the Australian Capital Territory commenced detaining prisoners sentenced for fine default only at their centre for unsentenced persons. To provide greater understanding of the number of prisoners attributed to the Australian Capital Territory, while presenting an accurate picture of the New South Wales prisoner population, statistics relating to Australian Capital Territory prisoners in New South Wales prisons are presented as a subset of the New South Wales figures.

17 Imprisonment rate data for the Australian Capital Territory are now included in the publication and are calculated on the basis of the total number of ACT prisoners (i.e. ACT prisoners held in NSW prisons, and ACT prisoners held in the ACT) divided by the estimated resident ACT adult population and multiplied by 100,000. For New South Wales, the imprisonment rate is now based on the count of NSW prisoners, excluding ACT prisoners held in NSW prisons, divided by the estimated resident NSW adult population and multiplied by 100,000. Time series data have also been derived on this basis. Previously, New South Wales imprisonment rates included ACT prisoners held in NSW prisons, which had the effect of slightly overstating the NSW imprisonment rate.


18 Imprisonment rates enable comparison of prisoner numbers across states and territories. Prisoner rates are expressed per 100,000 adult population.

19 For the purpose of this publication the population figures used in the calculation of rates are for persons aged 18 years and over for all states and territories except Victoria and Queensland where the population used is persons aged 17 years and over (see Explanatory Notes, paragraph 7).

20 Rates for the Indigenous adult population in this publication are based on revised projections for 30 June 2003 (refer Experimental Projections of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Population 30 June 1996 to 30 June 2006 (cat. no. 3231.0)). These projections are in turn based on the results of the 1996 Census of Population and Housing.

21 Two series of these projections have been published. The so-called 'higher series' takes into account a possible change in propensity for people to identify themselves as Indigenous since the 1996 Population Census and estimates this from the 1991-1996 intercensal period. The lower series assumes no such change has taken place since 1996. The lower of the two series was used in calculating rates for the Indigenous adult population in this publication. This is because, after discussions with representatives of corrective services agencies, it was felt that the propensity to identify as Indigenous has not increased to the same extent in the prison environment as might have occurred in the wider community.

22 A new set of projections of the Indigenous population, based on 2001 Census of Population and Housing, are due for release in July 2004 in the publication Experimental Estimates and Projections of Indigenous Australians, 1991 to 2016 (cat. no. 3238.0). Indigenous imprisonment rates will be revised using the data from these updated estimates when available.

23 Rates for the total adult prisoner population and persons in community-based corrections are calculated using the Estimated Resident Population (ERP) for each of the states and territories (refer Australian Demographic Statistics (cat. no. 3101.0)). As the population changes over time the denominator used for the calculation of rates varies, depending on the reference period. Rates are calculated using ERP for two quarters prior to their respective quarters. Thus for the December quarter 2003, ERP for the June quarter 2003 was used in the calculation of rates. This approach uses the latest ERP available at the time of publication.

24 The ratio of imprisonment rates of Indigenous persons to non-Indigenous persons is calculated by dividing the Indigenous imprisonment rate for each period and state or territory by the corresponding non-Indigenous imprisonment rate.

25 The ratio indicates the extent to which the imprisonment rates of Indigenous persons exceed the imprisonment rates of non-Indigenous persons. A ratio of 20.0 indicates that, for the given state or territory, the imprisonment rate of Indigenous persons per 100,000 adult population is 20 times that of the imprisonment rate of non-Indigenous persons.

26 In some instances Indigenous rates and ratios have not been published. Where this occurs, the cell concerned contains the symbol 'np'. This happens where, either the number of persons in custody is less than 10, or where the denominator population on which the rate is calculated is less than 5,000. This has been done because such rates and ratios vary widely from month to month with small variations in numbers of persons, and therefore may give an inaccurate reflection of the relative involvement of Indigenous persons in custody.


27 The Maryborough Correctional Centre, Queensland, was officially opened in April 2003. The Centre has the capacity to hold 500 prisoners.

28 During 2002 the following factors in Western Australia have impacted on the prisoner population: an increase in the acquittal and dismissal rates in courts; greater use by the courts of suspended imprisonment and community orders as penalties; and a decrease in the breach rate for early release orders. The impact of these factors has been proportionally greater on the number of Indigenous prisoners who tend to be convicted of offences which attract shorter sentences.

29 During 2003 in Western Australia there was an increase in the number of Indigenous persons sentenced to imprisonment by the courts, mostly in relation to 'Driving/Traffic', 'Against the Person' and 'Justice/Good Order' offences.

30 Bail figures are included for the first time in WA from the December quarter 2003. These are a result of new sentencing legislation that may also influence other community corrections data in future issues.

31 During the 2001-02 financial year, Tasmania recorded a large increase in the number of unsentenced prisoners. This overall increase was due to an increase in lodgments in the Supreme Court coupled with the move by police to more actively oppose bail. The variation over the period is explained primarily by the availability of judicial resources. A Supreme Court Judge was allocated to a long running trial in the March and June quarters of 2002 - this represented 25% of the judicial resources allocated to crime by the court. There was also a reduction in the number of magistrates available in the Court of Petty Sessions due to a number of long running coronial inquests.

32 In the Northern Territory, over the 12 months to 30 June 2003, there has been an increase in the number of Indigenous persons sentenced to imprisonment for a range of assault and driving offences.


33 Other ABS publications which may be of interest include:
      Australian Standard Offence Classification, 1997 (ASOC) (cat. no.1234.0)-irregular
      Crime and Safety, Australia (cat. no. 4509.0)-irregular
      Criminal Courts, Australia (cat. no. 4513.0)-annual
      Prisoners in Australia (cat. no. 4517.0)-annual
      Recorded Crime-Victims, Australia (cat. no. 4510.0)-annual

34 Current publications and other products released by the ABS are listed in the Catalogue of Publications and Products (cat. no. 1101.0). The Catalogue is available from any ABS office or the ABS web site . The ABS also issues a daily Release Advice on the web site which details products to be released in the week ahead.