Prisoner numbers fall 5% - the first decrease since 2011

Media Release

Media release

The number of adult prisoners in Australian prisons has fallen for the first time since 2011, according to figures released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

On 30 June 2020 there were 41,060 prisoners in custody, a 5 per cent decrease from 30 June 2019, with prisoners aged 18-29 years accounting for over half of this decrease.

ABS Director of the National Centre of Crime and Justice Statistics, William Milne said the introduction of COVID-19 related restrictions since March 2020 may have impacted criminal activity and the justice system.

“The number of sentenced and unsentenced prisoners fell in 2020, with sentenced prisoner numbers falling by 3 per cent and unsentenced prisoners by 8 per cent.

“There were decreases in prisoner numbers across most offence categories. Illicit drug offences, assaults, burglary and theft all showed large decreases. In contrast, there was an increase in prisoners with sexual assault offences over the year.”

Further information, including state and territory data, can be found in Prisoners in Australia, 2020, available for free download from the ABS website:


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