Lowest number of offenders recorded in over a decade

Media Release

The number of offenders proceeded against by police in Australia in 2019-20 decreased to the lowest level in 12 years, according to the latest figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

ABS Director of Crime and Justice Statistics, William Milne, said there were 374,645 offenders in Australia in 2019-20, a decrease of 5 per cent from the previous year. 

“This was largely due to a decline in public order offences such as public drunkenness and disorderly behaviour in a public place, which fell by 12,608 offenders or 24 per cent,” Mr Milne said.

“Public order offenders have declined since 2013–14, with the latest decrease coinciding with restrictions put in place to slow the spread of COVID-19.”

All states and territories recorded decreases in total offenders from the previous year, with the largest occurring in:

  • South Australia down 7,726 offenders or 17 per cent
  • New South Wales down 5,077 offenders or 4 per cent
  • Western Australia down 1,818 offenders or 5 per cent

Across the other states and territories, Victoria recorded a fall of 2 per cent (down 1,807 offenders); Queensland 1 per cent (down 1,049 offenders); Tasmania 11 per cent (down 1,075 offenders); the Northern Territory 13 per cent (down 1,366 offenders); and the Australian Capital Territory 3 per cent (down 71 offenders) between 2018–19 and 2019–20.

“In 2019–20, three-quarters of all offenders were male and the median age of offending for all offenders was 30 years.”

Despite the overall national decrease, there was a 22 per cent increase in miscellaneous offences (to 18,353 offenders) which was largely due to fines being issued for COVID-19 related offences.

Further details can be found in Recorded Crime - Offenders, 2019–20 available as a free download from the ABS website www.abs.gov.au.

Media notes

  • Public order offences relate to personal conduct that involves, or may lead to, a breach of public order or decency. This includes offences such as public drunkenness, disorderly behaviour in a public place and drinking alcohol in alcohol free zones.
  • The introduction of COVID-19 related fines led to an increase in public health and safety offences which fall under the broad category of miscellaneous offences. Other offences in this category include transport regulation offences and environmental regulation offences.
  • The Recorded Crime Offenders time series began in 2008–09.
  • When reporting ABS data you must attribute the Australian Bureau of Statistics (or the ABS) as the source.
  • For media requests and interviews, contact the ABS Media Team via media@abs.gov.au (8.30am-5pm Mon-Fri).
  • Subscribe to our media release notification service to get notified of ABS media releases or publications upon their release.
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