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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 quality assurance 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 reception 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:
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:
6 The scope of the statistics in this publication includes all persons remanded or sentenced to adult custodial corrective services agencies (including Work Outreach Camps and Community Custody Centres in Queensland), or who are serving adult community-based orders in each state and territory in Australia.
7 Counts of prisoners in the following custodial facilities are included in the collection:
8 The prisons and community corrections collection excludes the following custodial facilities:
9 This collection includes counts of persons remanded or sentenced to adult custody facilities, or directed to serve community based orders administered by adult corrective service agencies. In all states and territories except Victoria and Queensland, persons are considered adults if aged 18 years and over. In Victoria and Queensland persons are considered adults if aged 17 years and over. The vast majority of persons counted in the collection are adults, however, juveniles may be included in exceptional circumstances.
10 Community-based corrections includes those persons with breached or suspended orders, with the exception of Victoria and Tasmania.
11 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 Australian Government Attorney-General's Department.
12 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. Prior to January 2004, sentenced reception figures for Tasmania do not include all prisoners changing from unsentenced custody to sentenced custody.
13 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.
14 Queensland data are subject to ongoing quality assurance processes. Since 2002, prisoners held in Community Custody Centres are included in the custodial data. Custodial figures for 2001 may be under enumerated. Queensland sentenced receptions for Fine Default Only prisoners, prior to 2002, may also be under enumerated because these were previously classified as Other Sentenced receptions.
15 Statistics for persons held in custody are presented by the state or territory in which they are held, which may not be the sentencing jurisdiction.
16 Prisoners who are serving fine default sentences concurrently with other sentences of imprisonment are counted under the Other Sentenced type and not as Fine Default Only prisoners. Offenders serving fine default sentences while on remand for other offences are counted as sentenced Fine Default Only prisoners.
17 If an offender has two or more different types of community-based orders operating simultaneously, then each order will be counted. If two or more community-based orders are of the same type, these orders together will only be counted as one order.
18 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.
19 Some persons in custody are recorded as of unknown Indigenous status on the information systems of corrective services agencies, but unknown Indigenous status data have 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.
AUSTRALIAN CAPITAL TERRITORY PRISONERS
20 The Australian Capital Territory has two remand centres for unsentenced prisoners and a periodic detention centre. In January 1999, ACT corrections commenced sending some unsentenced prisoners to New South Wales prisons. 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. During 2000 the Australian Capital Territory commenced detaining prisoners sentenced for Fine Default Only at their centre for unsentenced persons.
21 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.
22 Imprisonment rate data for the Australian Capital Territory are 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 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.
RATES AND RATIOS
23 Imprisonment and community-based corrections rates enable comparisons of prisoner numbers to be made across states and territories. Prisoner and community-based corrections rates are expressed per 100,000 adult population.
24 In 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 of persons aged 17 years and over (see Explanatory Notes, paragraph 9).
25 In some instances 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 can vary widely from month to month with small variations in numbers of persons, and therefore may give an inaccurate reflection of the involvement of persons in custody.
26 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.
27 Two series of these projections have been published. The so-called 'higher series' takes into account a possible increase in the propensity for people to identify themselves as Indigenous since the 1996 Population Census based on estimates 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.
28 A new set of projections of the Indigenous population, based on the 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.
29 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 the ERP for two quarters prior to their respective quarters. Thus for the March quarter 2004, the ERP for the September quarter 2003 was used in the calculation of rates. This approach uses the latest ERP available at the time of publication.
30 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.
31 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.
INTERPRETATION OF INDIGENOUS STATISTICS
32 Tables 8-12 in this publication provide nationally comparable statistics on the imprisonment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (Indigenous) people. There are a number of issues that bear on the statistical measures of Indigenous imprisonment. Explanatory Notes 33-36 provide advice on how these statistics should be interpreted.
33 The first and most basic measure of Indigenous imprisonment is the number of persons imprisoned. Imprisoned persons are classified as Indigenous if they identify themselves as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander at the time they are received into prison custody. These statistics in Corrective Services Australia are derived from administrative records held by corrective services agencies in each state and territory. The accuracy of the statistics is dependent upon the quality of the information collected by these agencies.
34 The second measure is the Indigenous proportion of the prisoner population. This relates the number of Indigenous persons in custody to the total number of persons in custody, and provides a basis for comparing the composition of the prison population across jurisdictions.
35 The third measure of Indigenous imprisonment is the rate of imprisonment, that is the number of Indigenous prisoners per 100,000 adults in the Indigenous population. The number of persons imprisoned in any jurisdiction is partly a function of the size of the population in that state or territory. All other things being equal, a jurisdiction such as the Northern Territory with a large Indigenous population will have a larger number of Indigenous prisoners than a jurisdiction such as Tasmania with a small Indigenous population. The rate of imprisonment provides a basis for comparing the relative likelihood that any Indigenous adult in a state or territory will be imprisoned.
36 The fourth measure of Indigenous imprisonment is the ratio of Indigenous to non-Indigenous imprisonment. Australian states and territories have widely varying rates of imprisonment. Hence, the likelihood that any Indigenous adult will be imprisoned in any jurisdiction is partly a function of the overall likelihood of imprisonment in that jurisdiction. This ratio provides a measure of how much more likely it is that an Indigenous adult in a particular jurisdiction will be imprisoned when compared with his or her non-Indigenous counterparts.
37 The Maryborough Correctional Centre, Queensland, was officially opened in April 2003. The Centre has the capacity to hold 500 prisoners.
38 From February 2001, legislative change in Western Australia resulted in an increased number of "Time to Pay" applications from fine defaulters. This contributed to a decrease in the number of Fine Option community-based corrections orders recorded.
39 During 2002 the following factors in Western Australia 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.
40 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.
41 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.
42 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.
43 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.
44 Other ABS publications which may be of interest include:
Crime and Safety, Australia (cat. no. 4509.0) - irregular
Criminal Courts, Australia (cat. no. 4513.0) - issued annually
Prisoners in Australia (cat. no. 4517.0) - issued annually
Recorded Crime - Victims, Australia (cat. no. 4510.0) - issued annually
Australian Demographic Statistics (cat no. 3101.0) - issued quarterly
Australian Social Trends (cat no. 4102.0) - issued annually
General Social Survey: Summary Results, Australia (cat no. 4159.0) - irregular
Information Paper: Measuring Crime Victimisation, Australia: The Impact of Different Collection Methodologies (cat no. 4522.0.55.001) - single issue
Measures of Australia's Progress (cat no. 1370.0) - issued annually
Year Book Australia (cat no. 1301.0) - issued annually
45 The Information Paper: Measuring Crime Victimisation, Australia: The Impact of Different Collection Methodologies (cat. no. 45522.0.55.001) was released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics in 2004. The main aim of this paper is to increase community understanding of the nature of crime measurement in Australia and why the findings from different data sources may differ. The paper outlines national crime victimisation statistics available from several different sources in the Australian context and draws comparisons between the statistics from these sources. The paper also describes methodological differences between survey sources and the possible impacts of the methodological differences between the survey vehicles.
46 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 <https://www.abs.gov.au>. The ABS also issues a daily Release Advice on the web site which details products to be released in the week ahead. The National Centre for Crime and Justice Statistics releases a biannual newsletter that is published on the ABS website. The Centre can be contacted by email through <email@example.com>.
47 Non-ABS sources which may be of interest include:
Crime Research Centre, University of Western Australia, Crime and Justice Statistics for Western Australia
NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research, New South Wales Criminal Courts Statistics
Department of Justice, Northern Territory, Northern Territory Quarterly Crime and Justice Statistics
Office of Crime Statistics and Research, South Australia, Crime and Justice in South Australia
Steering Committee for the Review of Commonwealth/State Service Provision, Report on Government Services
Department of Justice, Victoria, Statistical Profile of the Victorian Prison System
Department of Corrective Services, New South Wales, NSW Inmate Census
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