4517.0 - Prisoners in Australia, 2018 Quality Declaration 
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 06/12/2018   
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6 December 2018
Embargoed: 11.30 am (Canberra time)

Prisoner numbers up 4 per cent from 2017

The number of people in Australian prisons has increased for the seventh consecutive year, according to figures released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

On the night of 30 June 2018, there were 42,974 prisoners in custody. This was a 4 per cent increase from 30 June 2017 and represents a 40 per cent increase over the past five years.

ABS Director of the National Centre of Crime and Justice Statistics, William Milne, said the majority of the increase in the Australian prison population in 2018 was the result of a rise in the number of offenders imprisoned for Illicit drugs and Sexual assault and related offences.

“Since 30 June 2017, there has been a ten per cent increase in the number of people imprisoned for Illicit drug offences and Sexual assault and related offences,” Mr Milne said.

“The number of people in prison for these offences has increased over the past five years, particularly for Illicit drug offenders where there’s been an increase of over 3,000 prisoners (87 per cent) since 2013.

"The offence of Acts intended to cause injury remained the most common offence or charge for prisoners over this time period.”

Since 2017, the number of female prisoners has increased by 10 per cent (326 prisoners), while the number of male prisoners increased by 4 per cent (1,438 prisoners).

Further information, including state and territory data, can be found in Prisoners in Australia, 2018 (cat. no. 4517.0), available for free download from the ABS website: https://www.abs.gov.au.

Media notes:

  • When reporting ABS data, the Australian Bureau of Statistics (or ABS) must be attributed as the source.
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