Criminal courts defendants down 16 percent

Media Release

The number of defendants finalised in Australian criminal courts fell by 16 percent in 2019–20 coinciding with the introduction of COVID-19 restrictions, according to data released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

There were 486,422 defendants finalised in criminal courts across the country.

The largest decreases were recorded in the number of traffic or driving offenders, and public order offenders including those charged with offensive or disorderly conduct. 

ABS Director of the National Centre of Crime and Justice Statistics, William Milne, said the introduction of COVID-19 related restrictions since March 2020 had affected court operations.

“The COVID-19 restrictions led to temporary closures in courts across all jurisdictions and the deferral of some cases. The fall in the number of defendants also follows the decline in the number of offenders proceeded against by police which may have reduced the number of court cases.” (See Recorded Crime – Offenders, 2019–20.) 

Further information, including state and territory data, can be found in Criminal Courts, Australia, 2019–20, available for free download from the ABS website:

Media notes

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