|This publication presents information from the National Prisoner Census about persons held in Australian prisons on the night of 30 June 2018. The National Prisoner Census covers all prisoners in the legal custody of adult corrective services in adult prisons, excluding persons held in juvenile justice institutions, psychiatric custody and police custody. It is based on data extracted from administrative records held by the corrective services agencies in each Australian state and territory. These statistics provide a profile of the legal status, sentence details and demographic characteristics of Australian prisoners in the legal custody of adult prisons.
It should be noted that the information provided in the Prisoner Census relates to persons in prison at a point in time (30 June 2018), and does not represent the flow of prisoners during the year. The majority of prisoners in the Prisoner Census were serving long-term sentences for serious offences, whereas the flow of offenders in and out of prisons consists primarily of persons serving short sentences for lesser offences.
The number of prisoners at 30 June each year as presented in this publication is dependant upon activities and processes of the police and criminal courts in each respective jurisdiction. That is, the nature and level of criminal offending and the resulting police activity will impact the number of offenders, and the types of offences, being heard in the criminal courts. The subsequent sentencing practices and outcomes from the courts determine the number of persons held in custody - as either unsentenced or sentenced prisoners.
Complementary information about Australian prisoners is available in the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) quarterly publication, Corrective Services, Australia (cat. no. 4512.0). For further information relating to the characteristics of offenders and finalised defendants, please see the ABS publications Recorded Crime - Offenders (cat. no. 4519.0) and Criminal Courts, Australia (cat. no. 4513.0).
The Explanatory Notes provide detailed information on the data sources, definitions, counting rules and other technical matters associated with this publication.
The 'most serious offence/charge', based on the Australian and New Zealand Standard Offence Classification, 2011 (ANZSOC) (cat. no. 1234.0) , may be referred to as 'offence/charge' throughout this publication for ease of reading. The term 'related offences' has also been omitted for ease of reading for the following offences/charges: sexual assault and related offences; robbery, extortion and related offences and theft and related offences. Refer to Explanatory Notes, paragraphs 76–81 for more information about ANZSOC.