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2 Statistics presented in this publication are compiled in three ways:
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 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.
5 The scope of the statistics in this publication includes all persons remanded or sentenced to adult custodial facilities, or who are serving adult community-based orders in each state and territory in Australia.
6 Counts of prisoners in the following custodial facilities are included in the collection:
7 The prisons and community-based corrections collection excludes the following custodial facilities:
8 This collection includes counts of persons remanded or sentenced to adult custody facilities, or directed to serve community-based orders administered by adult corrective services agencies. In all states and territories except Queensland, persons are considered adults if aged 18 years and over. In 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. In Queensland, prior to 2018, 'adult' referred to persons aged 17 years and over. From February 2018 onwards persons aged 17 years are being transitioned from adult correctional facilities into the Queensland juvenile justice system over a two year period.
9 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.
10 With the exception of Victoria and Tasmania, community-based corrections includes those persons with breached or suspended orders.
11 The reference period for average daily prisoner population statistics is the complete reference month. The reference date for all other figures is the first day of the reference month. However, not all states and territories report strictly according to this 'first day of the month' rule. The Western Australian population is counted as at midnight on the last day of the month and the figures provided are taken to represent the prison population at the beginning of the following month.
12 Statistics for persons held in custody are presented by the state or territory in which they were held, however, this may not be the same as the original sentencing jurisdiction. The only exception to this is data for federal sentenced prisoners. These are presented by the state or territory in which they were sentenced, not where they were held in custody.
13 Sentenced prisoners who have other offences that are unsentenced are counted as sentenced. Prisoners may be unsentenced because they are awaiting the outcome of their trial, convicted but awaiting sentence, or awaiting deportation.
14 For the count of community-based corrections orders by type of order, 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, the person will only be counted once in each order category. Some jurisdictions have orders with multiple conditions and these conditions can be counted as separate orders.
15 Imprisonment and community-based corrections rates enable comparisons of prisoner numbers to be made across states and territories. Rates for prisoners and persons in community-based corrections are expressed per 100,000 adult population. Imprisonment rates are calculated based on two different counting concepts (average daily and first day of the month). As a result, there may be variations in imprisonment rates presented in this publication.
16 In the December 2015 release, the methodology for the calculation of imprisonment rates was updated, following a review of the process and is now considered more accurate. The difference in imprisonment rates between the two methodologies is very minimal.
17 The population figures used in the calculation of rates are for persons aged 18 years and over for all states and territories except Queensland where the population is persons aged 17 years and over (see Scope section).
18 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. All estimates for the Australian Capital Territory exclude Jervis Bay Territory. All estimates for Australia exclude the external territories of Christmas Island and the Cocos (Keeling) Island. As the population changes over time the denominator used for the calculation of rates varies, depending on the reference period. The most current ERP data available at the time of publication are used to calculate rates as follows:
19 The ERP series are revised every five years to incorporate additional information available from the latest Census of Population and Housing. The rates per 100,000 adult persons presented in this issue have been calculated using ERP data based on the 2016 Census of Population and Housing, and have been used from June 2017.
20 For population estimates and information on the methodology used to produce the ERP, see Australian Demographic Statistics (cat. no. 3101.0).
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander imprisonment rates
21 In April 2014, the ABS published the backcast historical population estimates (for the period 2001–2011) for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander persons, along with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population projections (for the period 2001–2026) in Estimates and Projections, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, 2001 to 2026 (cat. no. 3238.0). As a result, imprisonment rates for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adult population in this publication from 2011 have been revised, using final ERP data from the 2011 Census of Population and Housing.
22 There are three main projection series presented in Estimates and Projections, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, 2001 to 2026 (cat. no. 3238.0): Series A, B and C. These respectively imply a high, medium and low overall growth rate of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population. All three series assume constant interstate migration at levels observed in the 2011 Census; zero net overseas migration with no arrivals and no departures; and zero unexplained growth in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population. Different assumptions were made about future fertility, paternity and life expectancy at birth between the three series:
23 The adult ERP used to calculate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander imprisonment rates is based on Series B projections for 30 June of the relevant calendar year. This is consistent with the decision made in 2009, following consultation with the National Corrective Services Statistics Advisory Group and other stakeholders. The publication, Estimates and Projections, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, 2001 to 2026 (cat. no. 3238.0), suggests that Series B will be the most appropriate choice for most users.
24 The ABS conducts an ongoing programme of quality assurance to monitor and improve the quality of Indigenous status data in Corrective Services agencies (both custodial and community-based corrections). Whilst the ABS has published Indigenous status data in Corrective Services collections for a number of years, ongoing quality assurance enables better understanding of accuracy over time.
25 The quality of the Indigenous status information collected and recorded in Corrective Services agencies is assessed against the ABS Standard Indigenous Question (SIQ). The SIQ is based upon self-identification by the individual who comes into contact with Corrective Services agencies. In 2010, the ABS conducted a comprehensive quality assurance review across all jurisdictions and sectors of the criminal justice system to confirm our understanding of the processes involved in recording Indigenous status and the barriers to producing quality statistics. The results of the review concluded that corrective services data are of acceptable quality and comparability for all states and territories, with the exception of Western Australia. In Western Australia, Indigenous status is determined by asking two questions rather than asking the ABS SIQ at the first meeting. This is at the discretion of the case manager and in some instances Indigenous status may be recorded from information previously collected or otherwise determined by the case manager. For this reason, caution should be exercised when comparing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander data from Western Australia to other states and territories.
26 Some persons in custody are recorded with an unknown Indigenous status on the information systems of corrective services agencies as their status has not been able to be obtained or recorded. Persons with Indigenous status unknown are excluded from tables 11–14. Counts of persons with an unknown Indigenous status are included in all other tables. Unknowns account for approximately 1% of prisoners in custody and 2% of persons in community-based corrections.
Comparability and significant events
New South Wales
27 The following are of relevance for New South Wales data:
28 The following are of relevance for Victoria data:
29 The following are of relevance for Queensland data:
30 There are currently no notes specific to South Australia.
31 The following are of relevance for Western Australia data:
32 The following are of relevance for Tasmania data:
33 The following are of relevance for the Northern Territory data:
Australian Capital Territory
34 The following are of relevance for the Australian Capital Territory data:
35 The following are of relevance for the Australia data:
36 The following are of relevance to the age standardisation data:
Age standardised community-based corrections data cube
37 The Age Standardised Community-Based Corrections data cube contains counts, crude rates and age standardised rates for persons who are serving adult community-based orders in Australia. Data are presented by sex, Indigenous status and age as of 30 June. Statistics in this data cube are derived from information provided to the ABS from administrative records held by corrective services agencies within each state and territory.
38 The scope of the community-based corrections statistics in the Age Standardised Community-Based Corrections data cube differ slightly to the community-based corrections data in the Corrective Services, Australia data cube. The Age Standardised Community-Based Corrections data cube includes all adult persons serving a community-based order in each state and territory in Australia as of 30 June. Persons serving a community-based corrections order that have unknown age, sex or Indigenous status have been excluded from the Age Standardised Community-Based Corrections data cube. Therefore data from the Age Standardised Community-Based Corrections data cube (based on 30 June data) is not directly comparable with community-based correction data from the Corrective Services Australia data cube (based on first day of the month data).
Flow data data cube
39 The Flow Data data cube contains counts of prisoner receptions by legal status, sex and Indigenous status. Legal status for this data reflects only the status at point of reception (sentenced or unsentenced).This does not capture any change in legal status during the period of imprisonment.
40 Please note that the previously published ‘sentenced prisoner receptions’ data item has been replaced by the sentenced receptions data in the Flow Data tables. The new receptions data are deemed a more accurate measure of prisoner flows through the corrective services system than the previous ‘sentenced prisoner receptions’ data.
41 Other ABS publications which may be of interest are listed on the Related Information tab.
42 Current publications and other products released by the ABS are available from the ABS website <https://www.abs.gov.au>. The ABS also issues a daily Release Advice on the website that details products to be released in the week ahead. The National Centre for Crime and Justice Statistics can be contacted by email through <firstname.lastname@example.org>.
43 Non-ABS sources that may be of interest include:
Crime Research Centre, University of Western Australia, Crime and Justice Statistics for Western Australia - issued annually
Department of Corrective Services, New South Wales, NSW Inmate Census - irregular
Department of Justice, Northern Territory, Northern Territory Quarterly Crime and Justice Statistics - issued quarterly
NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research, New South Wales Custody Statistics - issued quarterly
Steering Committee for the Review of Commonwealth/State Service Provision, Report on Government Services - issued annually
Department of Justice and Regulation, Corrections Victoria, Monthly prisoner and offender statistics - issued monthly
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