4517.0 - Prisoners in Australia, 2018 Quality Declaration 
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 06/12/2018   
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MOST SERIOUS OFFENCE/CHARGE

The three most common offences/charges for prisoners as of 30 June 2018 were:
  • Acts intended to cause injury (22% or 9,659 prisoners);
  • Illicit drug offences (16% or 6,779 prisoners); and
  • Sexual assault and related offences (12% or 5,283 prisoners). (Table 1)

Key movements

Between 2017 and 2018, the national number of prisoners increased by 1,772 prisoners (or 4%). Since 2017, the largest increases in the number of prisoners occurred for the following offences:
  • Illicit drug offences (10% or 624 prisoners);
  • Sexual assault and related offences (10% or 498 prisoners);
  • Acts intended to cause injury (3% or 315 prisoners);
  • Dangerous/ negligent acts (14% or 211 prisoners); and
  • Prohibited/Regulated weapons/ explosives offences (34% or 210 prisoners). (Table 3)

Graph Image for PRISONERS, Selected most serious offence or charge(a), 30 June 2017 and 30 June 2018

Footnote(s): a) For a definition of most serious offence or charge, see Explanatory Notes paragraphs 84-86.

Source(s): Prisoners in Australia



Since 2017, the largest decreases in the number of prisoners occurred for the following offences:
  • Offences against justice (8% or 252 prisoners);
  • Abduction, harassment and other offences against the person (14% or 90 prisoners); and
  • Traffic and vehicle regulatory offences (9% or 72 prisoners). (Table 3)

Key time-series movements

Between 2010 and 2018:
  • Acts intended to cause injury has increased by 66% (or 3,856 prisoners). This remained the most common offence for prisoners in Australia throughout the period.
  • The second most common offence was Illicit drug offences which has more than doubled since 2010, increasing by 110% (or 3,546 prisoners).
  • Sexual assault and related offences has increased by 42% (1,547 prisoners) for the period.
  • Dangerous/negligent acts endangering persons has increased 157% (1,082 prisoners).
  • The largest proportional increase, since 2010, was seen for Prohibited/regulated weapons/explosives offences which have increased by 276% (604 prisoners). (Table 3)

Graph Image for PRISONERS, Selected most serious offence or charge(a), 30 June 2010 to 30 June 2018

Footnote(s): (a) For a definition of most serious offence, see Explanatory Notes paragraphs 84-86. (b) Homicide and related offences. (c) Sexual assualt and related offences. (d)Illicit drug offences. (e)Prohibited/regulated weapons/explosives offences.

Source(s): Prisoners in Australia



Selected offences

As of 30 June 2018:

Acts intended to cause injury
  • Males accounted for the majority (93%) of prisoners with an offence/charge of Acts intended to cause injury. Similarly, males accounted for 92% of all prisoners in Australia in 2018.
  • The median age of prisoners with an offence/charge of Acts intended to cause injury was 33 years. (Table 1)
  • Acts intended to cause injury was the most common offence/charge in every state and territory, ranging from 18% of all prisoners in South Australia to 48% of all prisoners in the Northern Territory. (Table 16)
  • The majority of prisoners with an offence/charge of Acts intended to cause injury had prior adult imprisonment under sentence (65% or 6,310 prisoners). This was higher than the national average of prior imprisonment (57%). (Table 1)
  • The median aggregate sentence length for Acts intended to cause injury was 1.8 years. Just over half (51%) of prisoners sentenced with an offence/charge of Acts intended to cause injury were serving an aggregate sentence of under 2 years. (Table 11)

Illicit drug offences
  • Males accounted for the majority (89%) of prisoners with an offence/charge of Illicit drug offences.
  • The median age of prisoners with an offence/charge of Illicit drug offences was 36 years.
  • Most prisoners with an offence/charge of Illicit drug offences were non-Indigenous (93% or 6,288 prisoners).
  • Over one-third (38%) of prisoners with an offence/charge of Illicit drug offences had prior adult imprisonment under sentence. This was lower than national average of prior imprisonment (57%). (Table 1)
  • The median aggregate sentence length for prisoners sentenced with an offence/charge of Illicit drug offences was 5.0 years. One third (33%) of prisoners were serving a sentence between two and five years and one-third (34%) were serving a sentence between five and ten years. (Table 11)

Sexual assault and related offences
  • The overwhelming majority of prisoners with an offence/charge of Sexual assault and related offences were male (99% or 5,220 prisoners).
  • The median age of prisoners with an offence/charge of Sexual assault and related offences was 45 years, which was the highest of all offence types.
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander prisoners accounted for 19% of all prisoners with an offence/charge of Sexual assault and related offences.
  • Nearly one-third (31%) of prisoners with an offence/charge of Sexual assault and related offences had prior adult imprisonment under sentence. (Table 1)
  • The median aggregate sentence length for Sexual assault and related offences was 7.0 years, which was the second longest of all offences, following Homicide and related offences (16.5 years). (Table 11)