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Corrective Services, Australia

National information on persons in adult custody and community based corrections

Reference period
December Quarter 2019
Released
12/03/2020

Key statistics

Persons in custody

Nationally the average daily number of prisoners increased to 43,069, compared with:

  • 42,987 in the September quarter 2019; and
  • 42,779 in the December quarter 2018.
     

There were increases for:

  • Queensland (1% or 88);
  • Western Australia (1% or 74);
  • New South Wales (less than 1% or 47); and
  • the Northern Territory (3% or 43).
     

There were decreases for:

  • South Australia (3% or 93);
  • Victoria (1% or 43);
  • the Australian Capital Territory (6% or 26); and
  • Tasmania (1% or 7).
     

Since the December quarter 2018:

  • New South Wales had the largest annual change with an increase of 3% (384); and
  • South Australia had the largest decrease, at 5% (156). (Table 1)
     
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  1. Based on average daily number


The largest contributors to the national prisoner population were:

  • New South Wales (32% or 13,660);
  • Queensland (21% or 8,861); and
  • Victoria (19% or 8,040). (Table 1)
     

The average daily imprisonment rate was 218 persons per 100,000 adult population, decreasing from 220 persons per 100,000 adult population in December quarter 2018. (Table 3)

Of all state and territory imprisonment rates:

  • The Northern Territory continued to have the highest imprisonment rate at 952 persons per 100,000 adult population;
  • With Western Australia the second highest at 343; and
  • The Australian Capital Territory had the lowest at 129. (Table 3)
     
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  1. Rate is the number of prisoners per 100,000 adult population. Based on average daily number.


The imprisonment rate for males was 408 persons per 100,000 adult male population, more than eleven times the rate for females (35 persons per 100,000 adult female population). (Table 5)

​​​​​​​Sex

Of all persons in custody:

  • Males represented 92% (39,571); and
  • Females represented 8% (3,498).
     

Of all states and territories, the Northern Territory had the highest imprisonment rates for both male and female prisoners:

  • 1,735 persons per 100,000 adult male population; and
  • 114 persons per 100,000 adult female population. (Table 5)
     

Type of custody

Of all persons in custody:

  • 82% (35,115) were in secure custody; compared with
  • 18% (7,954) in open custody. (Table 6)
     

Legal status

The average number of prisoners on the first day of the month was 43,116. Of these:

  • 67% (28,898) were sentenced; and
  • 33% (14,128) were unsentenced.
     
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  1. Based on average number on the first day of the month
     

​​​​​​​Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander prisoners

The average daily number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander prisoners was 12,322, compared with:

  • 12,232 in the September quarter 2019; and
  • 11,776 in the December quarter 2018.
     

Of all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander prisoners:

  • Almost 75% were in New South Wales (3,536), Queensland (2,963) or Western Australia (2,677);
  • 90% (11,088) were male; and
  • 10% (1,233) were female. (Table 11)
     

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander prisoners represented 29% of the total adult prisoner population. (Table 1)

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  1. Rate is the number of prisoners per 100,000 adult Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population. Based on average daily number.


The average number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander prisoners on the first day of the month was 12,331. Of these:

  • 67% (8,206) were sentenced; and
  • 33% (4,085) were unsentenced. (Tables 13)
     

The national average daily Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander imprisonment rate was 2,536 persons per 100,000 adult Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population, a 3% (70) increase since the December quarter 2018.

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander imprisonment rate for males was 4,602 persons per 100,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adult male population, more than nine times the rate for females (504 persons per 100,000 adult Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander female population).

Of all state and territory Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander imprisonment rates:

  • Western Australia had the highest at 4,089 persons per 100,000 adult Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population; and
  • Tasmania had the lowest at 727 persons. (Table 12)
     

Community-based corrections

Reported averages for number of persons serving community-based corrections (CBC) orders and for the number of CBC orders are based on first day of the month figures. For the community-based corrections order types, persons may be counted more than once if they have two or more different types of orders operating simultaneously.

​​​​​​​Number of persons in community-based corrections

The average first day of the month number of persons serving CBC orders was 83,648, compared with:

  • 82,050 in the September quarter 2019; and
  • 73,430 in the December quarter 2018.
     

Persons serving CBC orders increased by:

  • 2% (1,598) since the September quarter 2019; and
  • 14% (10,218) since the December quarter 2018.
     
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  1. Based on average number on the first day of the month


Three states accounted for over four-fifths of persons serving CBC orders:

  • New South Wales (41% or 34,229,);
  • Queensland (25% or 20,976); and
  • Victoria (15% or 12,806). (Table 1)
     

In the last 10 years, the New South Wales proportion of all persons serving CBC orders, has increased from 31% to 41% (from December quarter 2009 to December quarter 2019). This represents an increase of 16,197 persons. (Time series, Table 4)

This New South Wales increase is related to the NSW Sentencing Reform. Refer to the Methodology page, Comparability and Significant Events, New South Wales for more information.

The national rate of persons serving CBC orders was 424 persons per 100,000 adult population, an increase of:

  • 2% (7) since the September quarter 2019; and
  • 12% (47) since the December quarter 2018. (Table 16)
     
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  1. Rate per 100,000 persons for the state/territory of interest.
     

​​​​​​​Sex

Of all persons serving CBC orders:

  • Males represented 80% (67,163); and
  • Females represented 20% (16,455).
     

Since the December quarter 2018, persons serving CBC orders who were:

  • Male increased by 13% (7,893); and
  • Female increased by 16% (2,312). (Table 1)
     

The rate for persons serving CBC orders for male persons was 693 persons per 100,000 adult male population, more than four times the rate for female persons (164 persons per 100,000 adult female population). (Table 16)

​​​​​​​Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander persons in community-based corrections

There were 17,661 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander persons serving CBC orders, an increase of 13% (2,046) since the December quarter 2018.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander persons made up over one-fifth (21%) of all persons serving CBC orders, of which 81% were located within:

  • New South Wales (42% or 7,477);
  • Queensland (29% or 5,045); or
  • Western Australia (10% or 1,727). (Table 18)
     
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  1. Based on average number on the first day of the month.
     

​​​​​​​Type of orders

Reported averages for number of persons serving community-based corrections (CBC) orders and for the number of CBC orders are based on first day of the month figures. For the community-based corrections order types, persons may be counted more than once if they have two or more different types of orders operating simultaneously.

There were 95,500 CBC orders, representing increases of:

  • 4% (3,611) since the September quarter 2019; and
  • 17% (13,898) since the December quarter 2018.
     

Of all CBC order types, the largest increases were for:

  • Sentenced probation, which increased by 3% (1,729) since the September quarter 2019 and by 19% (9,297) since the December quarter 2018; and
  • Community service, which increased by 14% (1,778) since the September quarter 2019 and by 39% (4,120) since the December quarter 2018.
     

The increases for Sentenced probation and Community service can be linked to the introduction of two new sentence types in New South Wales. Refer to the Methodology page, Comparability and Significant Events, New South Wales for more information.

Fine option was the only CBC order type to decrease for both the quarter and year, by:

  • 6% (129) since the September quarter 2019; and
  • 28% (757) since the December quarter 2018.
     

Sentenced probation continued to be the most common order type, accounting for 60% (57,149) of CBC orders.

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  1. Based on average number on the first day of the month

* Data for this CBC order type are not available or not applicable for certain jurisdictions
 

​​​​​​​Prisoner receptions

There was a total of 17,577 prisoner receptions, compared with:

  • 17,168 for the September quarter 2019; and
  • 17,342 for the December quarter 2018.
     

Of all prisoner receptions:

  • 87% (15,231) were male;
  • 13% (2,345) were female;
  • 23% (4,090) were sentenced prisoners;
  • 77% (13,487) were unsentenced prisoners; and
  • 33% (5,804) were Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander prisoners. (Tables 19, 20, 21)
     
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  1. Total number of prisoner receptions.


For information about corrective service data items and counting units, please refer to the Methodology page and Glossary.

Data downloads

Guide to finding data in the corrective services, Australia publication tables

Corrective services, Australia - December quarter 2019

Flow data

Time series