4512.0 - Corrective Services, Australia, Sep 2004  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 01/12/2004   
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1 This publication presents statistical series on persons held in either adult corrective services custody or who are serving adult community-based orders in Australia. It contains data on the number of persons by their sex, Indigenous status, type of custody, legal status and sentence type; the number of sentenced persons received into corrective services custody each month; 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. This includes prisoners with a change 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), and counts of persons serving community-based corrections orders.

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 The reference period for average daily prisoner population statistics is the complete reference month. Average daily prisoner statistics are provided on this basis for all states and territories with the exception of data for Australian Capital Territory prisoners held in New South Wales, which are a single count taken on a specific day of the month. Sentenced prisoner reception counts are based on 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 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.
  • Prior to the September quarter 2004, the New South Wales prison population was counted on the last Sunday of the month. The New South Wales community-based corrections population is counted on the first day of the month.

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. 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.
  • 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 (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:
  • gazetted prisons in all jurisdictions
  • periodic detention centres in New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory
  • Community Custody Centres and Work Outreach Camps in Queensland
  • cells in court complexes administered by corrective services in New South Wales
  • transitional centres in New South Wales
  • lock-ups in Western Australia operated by the police but designated as a prison by the Chief Executive Officer of Corrective Services.

8 The prisons and community corrections collection excludes the following custodial facilities:
  • police lockups, police prisons and cells in court complexes not administered and controlled by corrective services
  • gazetted police prisons in the Northern Territory
  • juvenile detention centres
  • immigration detention centres
  • military prisons.

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 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.

11 Community-based corrections includes those persons with breached or suspended orders, with the exception of Victoria and Tasmania.


12 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.

13 Tasmanian first day of month data 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.

14 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 relating to earlier reference periods are under enumerated.

15 Since 2002, Queensland prisoners held in Community Custody Centres are included in the custodial data, hence custodial figures for 2001 may be under enumerated. A revised method for determining Queensland fine default only sentences has been used from the September quarter 2004. Data on fine default only sentences for earlier reference periods have been compiled on different bases and historical comparisons should be made with caution.


16 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.

17 Sentenced prisoners who have other offences which 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.

18 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.

19 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.


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

21 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.


22 The Australian Capital Territory has two remand centres for unsentenced prisoners and a periodic detention centre. In January 1999, the Australian Capital Territory 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.

23 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.

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


25 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.

26 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).

27 In some instances rates 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 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.

28 Rates for the total adult prisoner population and persons in community-based corrections are calculated using the estimated resident population 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 this quarter, the ERP for the March quarter 2004 was used in the calculation of rates. This approach uses the latest ERP available at the time of publication.

29 In previous issues of this publication rates for the adult Indigenous imprisonment population were presented based on projections from Experimental Projections of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Population, 30 June 1996 to 30 June 2006 (cat. no. 3231.0). These projections were based on the results of the 1996 Census of Population and Housing. A new set of projections for the Indigenous population, based on the 2001 Census of Population and Housing, was released on 27 September 2004 in the publication Experimental Estimates and Projections, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, 30 June 1991 to 30 June 2009 (cat. no. 3238.0). In future issues of Corrective Services, Australia (cat. no. 4512.0), adult Indigenous imprisonment rates and the ratio of Indigenous to non-Indigenous imprisonment rates (including the revision of previously published rates) will be published using population projections based on the 2001 Census of Population and Housing.


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

31 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.

32 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.

33 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.

34 A range of amendments to Western Australian corrections legislation came into effect in 2003 and 2004. As a result of these, bail figures were included for the first time in Western Australia in the December quarter 2003. Prior to the September quarter 2004, counts of restricted movement orders included conditional bail orders (which may have a restricted movement condition). All conditional bail orders are now counted as bail orders.

35 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.

36 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.


ABS Publications

37 Other ABS publications which may be of interest include:

Australian Demographic Statistics (cat. no. 3101.0) - issued quarterly

Australian Social Trends (cat. no. 4102.0) - issued annually

Australian Standard Offence Classification (cat. no.1234.0) - irregular

Crime and Safety, Australia (cat. no. 4509.0) - irregular

Criminal Courts, Australia (cat. no. 4513.0) - 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

Prisoners in Australia (cat. no. 4517.0) - issued annually

Recorded Crime - Victims, Australia (cat. no. 4510.0) - issued annually

Sexual Assault in Australia: A Statistical Overview (cat. no. 4523.0) - single issue

Year Book Australia (cat. no. 1301.0) - issued annually

38 The Information Paper: Measuring Crime Victimisation, Australia: The Impact of Different Collection Methodologies (cat. no. 4522.0.55.001) was released by the ABS 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.

39 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 on this 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. The National Centre for Crime and Justice Statistics releases a biannual newsletter that is published on the ABS web site. The Centre can be contacted by email through <crime.justice@abs.gov.au>.

Non-ABS Publications

40 Non-ABS sources which may be of interest include:
      Australian Institute of Criminology, List of Publications <http://www.aic.gov.au>
      Crime Research Centre, University of Western Australia, Crime and Justice Statistics for Western Australia
      Department of Corrective Services, New South Wales, NSW Inmate Census
      Department of Justice, Northern Territory, Northern Territory Quarterly Crime and Justice Statistics
      Department of Justice, Victoria, Statistical Profile of the Victorian Prison System
      NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research, New South Wales Criminal Courts 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