1 This publication presents statistical series about persons either held in adult corrective services custody or who are serving adult community-based orders in Australia. It contains data on the number of:
- persons in custody by sex, Indigenous status, type of custody and legal status;
- receptions into corrective services custody by legal status, Indigenous status and sex;
- federal prisoners;
- persons in community-based corrections by sex and Indigenous status; and
- community-based corrections orders by type of order.
2 Statistics presented in this publication are compiled in three ways:
- Average daily prisoner population: Counts taken on each day of the month are summed and divided by the number of days in that month to determine the average daily prisoner population for that month.
- First day of the month populations: Counts of prisoners; persons serving community-based corrections orders; and community-based corrections orders by type of order are taken on or near the first day of the month. For quarterly figures, the sum of the monthly data is divided by three; for yearly figures, the figures for each month are added and the total divided by twelve (see Counting Rules section).
- Prisoner reception figures: Counts are provided on the total number of prisoner receptions for each month. Monthly data are aggregated to form quarterly and yearly totals.
3 Although national standards and classifications are used in the compilation of these statistics, some discrepancies remain between the states and territories. These are due to legislative and procedural differences between jurisdictions and the way that these differences are reflected in agencies' administrative data systems. As part of its quality assurance strategy, the ABS is working with corrective services agencies to minimise the effect of these differences.
4 Statistics in this publication are derived from information provided to the ABS from administrative records held by corrective services agencies within each state and territory. Statistics on federal prisoners are derived from records kept by the Criminal Law Division of the Australian Government Attorney-General's Department.
5 The scope of the statistics in this publication includes all persons remanded or sentenced to adult custodial facilities, or who are serving adult community-based orders in each state and territory in Australia.
6 Counts of prisoners in the following custodial facilities are included in the collection:
- gazetted prisons in all jurisdictions;
- periodic detention centres in the Australian Capital Territory until 2016;
- community custody centres and work camps in Queensland;
- cells in court complexes administered by corrective services in New South Wales;
- transitional centres in New South Wales; and
- lock-ups in Western Australia operated by the police but designated as a prison by the Chief Executive Officer of Corrective Services.
7 The prisons and community-based corrections collection excludes the following custodial facilities:
- police lockups, police prisons and cells in court complexes not administered and controlled by corrective services;
- gazetted police prisons in the Northern Territory;
- juvenile detention centres, including those under the authority of adult corrective services;
- immigration detention centres; and
- military prisons.
8 This collection includes counts of persons remanded or sentenced to adult custody facilities, or directed to serve community-based orders administered by adult corrective services agencies. In all states and territories except Queensland, persons are considered adults if aged 18 years and over. In Queensland, persons are considered adults if aged 17 years and over. The vast majority of persons counted in the collection are adults. However, juveniles may be included in exceptional circumstances. In Queensland, prior to 2018, 'adult' referred to persons aged 17 years and over. From February 2018 onwards, persons aged 17 years are being transitioned from adult correctional facilities into the Queensland juvenile justice system over a two-year period.
9 Federal prisoners include those persons charged and sentenced under a Commonwealth statute, and those persons who are charged and sentenced under the laws of another country but transferred to an Australian prison to serve their sentence under the International Transfer of Prisoners Act 1997 (Cwlth). To give practical effect to this legislation in Australia, the framework was introduced in January 2003. For the purposes of this publication, federal sentenced prisoners are those persons who are recognised by the Criminal Law Division of the Australian Government Attorney-General's Department as having been charged and sentenced under a Commonwealth statute, or transferred from another country to serve their sentence in Australia.
10 With the exception of Victoria and Tasmania, community-based corrections data include those persons with breached or suspended orders.
11 The reference period for average daily prisoner population statistics is the complete reference month. The reference date for all other figures is the first day of the reference month. However, not all states and territories report strictly according to this 'first day of the month' rule. The Western Australian population is counted as at midnight on the last day of the month and the figures provided are taken to represent the prison population at the beginning of the following month.
12 Statistics for persons held in custody are presented by the state or territory in which they were held, however, this may not be the same as the original sentencing jurisdiction. The only exception to this is data for federal sentenced prisoners. These are presented by the state or territory in which they were sentenced, not where they were held in custody.
13 Sentenced prisoners who have other offences that are unsentenced are counted as sentenced. Prisoners may be unsentenced because they are awaiting the outcome of their trial, convicted but awaiting sentence, or awaiting deportation.
14 For the count of community-based corrections orders by type of order, if an offender has two or more different types of community-based orders operating simultaneously, then each order will be counted. If two or more community-based orders are of the same type, the person will only be counted once in each order category. Some jurisdictions have orders with multiple conditions and these conditions can be counted as separate orders.
15 Imprisonment and community-based corrections rates enable comparisons of prisoner numbers to be made across states and territories. Rates for prisoners and persons in community-based corrections are expressed per 100,000 adult population. Imprisonment rates are calculated based on two different counting concepts (average daily and first day of the month). As a result, there may be variations in imprisonment rates presented in this publication.
16 In the December 2015 release, the methodology for the calculation of imprisonment rates was updated, following a review of the process and is now considered more accurate. The difference in imprisonment rates between the two methodologies is very minimal.
17 The population figures used in the calculation of rates are for persons aged 18 years and over for all states and territories except Queensland where the population is persons aged 17 years and over (see Scope section).
18 Rates for the total adult prisoner population and persons in community-based corrections are calculated using the estimated resident population (ERP) for each of the states and territories. All estimates for the Australian Capital Territory exclude Jervis Bay Territory. All estimates for Australia exclude the external territories of Christmas Island and the Cocos (Keeling) Island. As the population changes over time the denominator used for the calculation of rates varies, depending on the reference period. The most current ERP data available at the time of publication are used to calculate rates as follows:
- for the March quarter, ERP is from the previous September quarter;
- for the June quarter, ERP is from the previous December quarter;
- for the September quarter, ERP is from the previous March quarter;
- for the December quarter, ERP is from the previous June quarter; and
- annual rates are an average of the rates of the contributing quarters.
19 The ERP series are revised every five years to incorporate additional information available from the latest Census of Population and Housing. The rates per 100,000 adult persons presented in this issue have been calculated using ERP data based on the 2016 Census of Population and Housing, and have been used from June 2017.
20 For population estimates and information on the methodology used to produce the ERP, see Australian Demographic Statistics (cat. no. 3101.0).
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander imprisonment rates
21 In July 2019, the ABS published the backcast historical population estimates for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander persons, along with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population projections in Estimates and Projections, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, 2006 to 2031 (cat. no. 3238.0). From the June quarter 2020 publication onwards, all published imprisonment rates for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adult population in this publication have been revised, using final ERP the 2016 Census of Population and Housing.
22 The adult ERP used to calculate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander imprisonment rates is based on Series B projections for 30 June of the relevant calendar year. This is consistent with the decision made in 2009, following consultation with the National Corrective Services Statistics Advisory Group and other stakeholders. The publication, Estimates and Projections, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, 2006 to 2031 (cat. no. 3238.0), suggests that Series B will be the most appropriate choice for most users.
23 The ABS conducts an ongoing programme of quality assurance to monitor and improve the quality of Indigenous status data in Corrective Services agencies (both custodial and community-based corrections). Whilst the ABS has published Indigenous status data in Corrective Services collections for a number of years, ongoing quality assurance enables better understanding of accuracy over time.
24 The quality of the Indigenous status information collected and recorded in Corrective Services agencies is assessed against the ABS Standard Indigenous Question (SIQ). The SIQ is based upon self-identification by the individual who comes into contact with Corrective Services agencies. In 2010, the ABS conducted a comprehensive quality assurance review across all jurisdictions and sectors of the criminal justice system to confirm our understanding of the processes involved in recording Indigenous status and the barriers to producing quality statistics. The results of the review concluded that corrective services data are of acceptable quality and comparability for all states and territories, with the exception of Western Australia. In Western Australia, Indigenous status is determined by asking two questions rather than asking the ABS SIQ at the first meeting. This is at the discretion of the case manager and in some instances Indigenous status may be recorded from information previously collected or otherwise determined by the case manager. For this reason, caution should be exercised when comparing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander data from Western Australia to other states and territories.
25 Some persons in custody are recorded with an unknown Indigenous status on the information systems of corrective services agencies as their status has not been able to be obtained or recorded. Persons with Indigenous status unknown are excluded from tables 11–14. Counts of persons with an unknown Indigenous status are included in all other tables. Unknowns account for approximately 1% of prisoners in custody and 2% of persons in community-based corrections.
Comparability and significant events
New South Wales
26 The following are of relevance for New South Wales data:
- Fine option orders are no longer an available community-based corrections sentencing option in NSW. The last Fine Default Order in NSW expired in December 2011. From the September quarter 2018 onwards, Fine option order will appear as not applicable.
- The NSW Sentencing Reform commencing on 24 September 2018 impacted on data for the December quarter 2018. The Reform introduced new community-based corrections (CBC) order types: Community Correction Order (CCO) and Conditional Release Order (CRO) which were both mapped to ABS CBC order type Sentenced probation. Since its introduction a large number of offenders have been sentenced to CCOs. In the December quarter 2018, the NSW Sentencing Reform drove increases in persons serving CBC orders and thus caution should be used when comparing this data with historical information.
- Sentenced probation data for the December quarter 2017 to the September quarter 2018 inclusive have been revised to include a small number of Intensive Correction Orders with supervision conditions. Prior to the December quarter 2018, these orders had only been included in the data for persons serving CBC orders. Comparisons of national and NSW Sentenced probation data from the December quarter 2017 to earlier quarters should be made with caution.
- Persons serving community-based corrections data and Bail data for the June quarter 2018 to the June quarter 2019 inclusive have been revised to include additional bail supervision data. Prior to the September quarter 2019, these orders had been omitted from community-based corrections data. However, NSW were able to deliver updated data for publication in the December quarter 2019. Comparisons of national and NSW persons in community-based corrections data and Bail data in the December quarter 2019 publication to earlier quarters should be made with caution.
- Data for the 30 June 2019 Age Standardised Community-based Corrections datacube have been revised to include additional NSW bail supervision data. These orders had previously been omitted from the age standardised community-based corrections data and have since been updated in the June quarter 2020 publication. It is strongly recommended that age standardised community-based corrections data for NSW and Australia in the June quarter 2019 publication are not used for historical comparisons.
27 The following are of relevance for Victoria data:
- Comparisons of Fine default data from March quarter 2018 to earlier data should be made with caution due to the impact of the Fines Reform Act 2014 commencing on 31 December 2017.
28 The following are of relevance for Queensland data:
- The following events have impacted on Queensland Fine default data:
- State Penalties and Enforcement Registry (SPER) Fine Option Orders were phased out from November 2017 and were replaced by SPER Work and Development Orders. This change has impacted on data since December quarter 2017. Comparisons of Queensland Fine default data from December quarter 2017 onwards to earlier data should be made with caution due to impact of the transition from SPER Fine Option Orders to Work and Development Orders.
- As of December 2019, only persons with existing supervision orders were eligible to receive SPER Work and Development Orders. This change has impacted on data since December quarter 2019. Comparisons of Queensland Fine default data from December quarter 2019 onwards to earlier data should be made with caution due to later changes for SPER Work and Development Orders.
29 There are currently no notes specific to South Australia.
30 The following are of relevance for Western Australia data:
- Data for community-based corrections orders extracted from the Western Australian information system are subject to data processing time lags of 4-6 weeks.
- Comparisons of community-based corrections orders from the September quarter 2018 onwards to earlier data should be made with caution due to data quality improvements done to the Western Australia Corrective Services statistical processing system.
31 The following are of relevance for Tasmania data:
- Orders under the Court Mandated Diversion for Drug Offenders (CMD) returned to Community Corrections supervision in July 2010 and have been included in the electronic data from January 2012 onwards. Drug Treatment Orders are counted under Sentenced Probation, and CMD Bail Orders under Bail.
- Tasmania opened a new open custody facility, O'Hara cottages located at Ron Barwick Minimum Security Prison in April 2013.
- Tasmania introduced Monetary Penalty Community Service Orders in 2011. These orders are counted as Reparation - Fine option and are included in the data from the March quarter 2012.
- In Tasmania, Home Detention Orders commenced in March 2019 and appear from April 2019 for the first day of month data. Home Detention Orders are counted in the Restricted Movement category.
32 The following are of relevance for the Northern Territory data:
- In March 2012, the Northern Territory introduced two new sentencing options, the Community Custody Order for non-violent and non-sexual offenders facing an imprisonment period of less than 12 months, and the Community-based Order for non-violent offenders and non-sexual offenders not facing an imprisonment period. These orders are both counted under Sentenced Probation and are included in the data from the June quarter 2012.
- A review of the Sentence Management Manual and classification process has resulted in the reclassification of additional prisoners to open custody. Any comparisons of open custody data between the December quarter 2014 onwards and previous quarters should be made with caution.
Australian Capital Territory
33 The following are of relevance for the Australian Capital Territory data:
- In July 2012 an audit was conducted by ACT Corrective Services of Reparation - Community Service files. As a result, a number of breached orders were identified and actioned. The persons on these orders have returned to court and the original order has either been revoked or reactivated, depending on the court outcome.
- The ACT has changed its counting methodology for persons serving community-based corrections orders from the September quarter 2014 onwards. This means that persons who have completed their community-based corrections orders prior to the order expiry date will no longer be counted in community-based corrections counts, as was done in previous quarters. The specific community-based corrections orders affected include parole, bail and sentenced probation:
- This change means that any comparisons of ACT parole, bail and sentenced probation data, as well as total persons serving community-based corrections orders in the ACT, between the September quarter 2014 onwards and previous quarters should be made with caution.
- This change will also have consequential impacts on the national data for these community-based corrections orders from the September quarter 2014. Caution should be used when comparing with previous national data for parole, bail and sentenced probation orders.
34 The following are of relevance for the Australia data:
- A post-sentence order is a court order which subjects an offender to extended detention in prison or supervision in the community by corrective services following the completion of a custodial sentence. Post-sentence orders are made by a court where an offender has a history of serious offending, usually involving sexual or violent offences, and it determines that there is an unacceptable risk that the offender will commit further similar offences if released from prison or into the community without supervision.
- From the June quarter 2015 reference period, data for custodial and community based post-sentence orders are reported in separate categories. Prior to the June quarter 2015 reference period, post-sentence data were included in the sentenced prisoner and sentenced probation totals respectively.
- Victoria has only been able to provide post-sentence data from the June quarter 2016. Post-sentence custodial data are currently not applicable (due to being not available as an order or not available for data provision) for South Australia and the Australian Capital Territory.
- South Australia has only been able to provide post-sentence community-based corrections data from the December quarter 2016. Post-sentence community-based corrections data are currently not applicable (due to being not available as an order or not available for data provision) for Tasmania and the Australian Capital Territory.
- Data for the following community-based corrections orders are currently not applicable (due to either being not available as an order and/or not within the scope of this publication) for the jurisdictions listed below:
- Restricted movement: Victoria, Queensland, Australian Capital Territory;
- Bail: Victoria, Queensland; and
- Fine option: Northern Territory, Australian Capital Territory.
- Federal sentenced prisoners data for the March quarter 2020 has been revised. Comparisons of Federal sentenced prisoners data from June quarter 2020 onwards to the March quarter 2020 publication should be made with caution.
35 The following are of relevance to the age standardisation data:
- Age standardisation is a statistical method that adjusts crude rates to account for age differences between study populations. The age standardised rates presented in this publication are based on the direct method of calculation, for more information please see Appendix 1 of Deaths, Australia 2010 (cat. no. 3302.0).
- There are differences in the age distributions between Australia's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous populations with the former having a much younger population. In 2001, the proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 40 years and over was 20%, compared with 44% of non-Indigenous people (and 43% of the total Australian population). Refer to Australian Demographic Statistics (cat. no. 3101.0) for more information.
- Due to these differing age profiles, using crude rates to examine differences between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous populations may lead to erroneous conclusions being drawn about variables that are correlated with age.
- Based on comparisons across age groups, it is known that community-based corrections rates are lower among older people, i.e. that the community-based corrections rate is correlated with age. Further, based on a comparison of overall community-based corrections rates between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous persons, it is likely that the community-based corrections rate in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population will be higher because of the larger proportion of young people in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population.
- Standardised rates used the age distribution of total persons in the Australian population at 30 June 2001 as the standard population. The standard population is revised every 25 years; the next revision will be based on final data from the 2026 Census.
Age standardised community-based corrections data cube
36 The Age Standardised Community-Based Corrections data cube contains counts, crude rates and age standardised rates for persons who are serving adult community-based orders in Australia. Data are presented by sex, Indigenous status and age as of 30 June. Statistics in this data cube are derived from information provided to the ABS from administrative records held by corrective services agencies within each state and territory.
37 The scope of the community-based corrections statistics in the Age Standardised Community-Based Corrections data cube differ slightly to the community-based corrections data in the Corrective Services, Australia data cube. The Age Standardised Community-Based Corrections data cube includes all adult persons serving a community-based order in each state and territory in Australia as of 30 June. Persons serving a community-based corrections order that have unknown age, sex or Indigenous status have been excluded from the Age Standardised Community-Based Corrections data cube. Therefore, data from the Age Standardised Community-Based Corrections data cube (based on 30 June data) are not directly comparable with community-based correction data from the Corrective Services Australia data cube (based on first day of the month data).
Flow data data cube
38 The Flow Data data cube contains counts of prisoner receptions by legal status, sex and Indigenous status. Legal status for this data reflects only the status at point of reception (sentenced or unsentenced). This does not capture any change in legal status during the period of imprisonment.
39 Please note that the previously published ‘sentenced prisoner receptions’ data item has been replaced by the sentenced receptions data in the Flow Data tables. The new receptions data are deemed a more accurate measure of prisoner flows through the corrective services system than the previous ‘sentenced prisoner receptions’ data.
40 Other ABS publications which may be of interest are listed on the Related Information tab.
41 Current publications and other products released by the ABS are available from the ABS website <http://www.abs.gov.au>. The ABS also issues a daily Release Advice on the website that details products to be released in the week ahead. The National Centre for Crime and Justice Statistics can be contacted by email through <firstname.lastname@example.org>.
42 Non-ABS sources that may be of interest include:
Australian Institute of Criminology, List of Publications - irregular
Crime Research Centre, University of Western Australia, Crime and Justice Statistics for Western Australia - issued annually
Department of Corrective Services, New South Wales, NSW Inmate Census - irregular
Department of Justice, Northern Territory, Northern Territory Quarterly Crime and Justice Statistics - issued quarterly
NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research, New South Wales Custody Statistics - issued quarterly
Steering Committee for the Review of Commonwealth/State Service Provision, Report on Government Services - issued annually
Department of Justice and Regulation, Corrections Victoria, Monthly prisoner and offender statistics - issued monthly