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Corrective Services, Australia

National and state information about adult prisoners and community based corrections, including legal status, custody type, Indigenous status, sex.

Reference period
December Quarter 2020
Released
11/03/2021

Key statistics

  • There were 41,668 prisoners, a 2% (666) increase for the quarter.

  • Prisoners increased by 46% since the December quarter 2010.

  • Persons serving community-based corrections (CBC) orders decreased by 1% (482) for the quarter, driven by Victoria which fell by 16% (1,681).

  • Persons serving CBC orders increased by 40% since the December quarter 2010.

There have been various government restrictions implemented across states and territories as a result of COVID-19 since March 2020. These restrictions may have had an impact on criminal activity and the justice system.

Persons in custody

There were 41,668 (average daily number) prisoners:

  • up from 41,002 in the September quarter 2020; and
  • down from 43,069 in the December quarter 2019.

Prisoners increased for the quarter for:

  • Queensland, up 5%;
  • the Northern Territory, up 4%; and
  • New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia, up 1%.

Prisoners decreased for the quarter for:

  • the Australia Capital Territory, down 4%; and
  • Western Australia and Tasmania, down 1%.

(a) Based on average daily number

Imprisonment rates

The imprisonment rate was 208 persons per 100,000 adult population:

  • up from 205 persons in the September quarter 2020; and
  • down from 218 persons in the December quarter 2019.

The imprisonment rate per 100,000 adult population increased for the quarter for:

  • Queensland, up 5%;
  • the Northern Territory, up 4%; and
  • New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia, up 1%.

The imprisonment rate per 100,000 adult population decreased for the quarter for:

  • the Australia Capital Territory, down 4%;
  • Tasmania, down 2%; and
  • Western Australia, down 1%.

(a) Rate is the number of prisoners per 100,000 adult population. Based on average daily number.

Sex

Of all prisoners:

  • Male prisoners represented 92% (38,455); and
  • Female prisoners represented 8% (3,213).

Of all male prisoners, 71% were held in:

  • New South Wales (31% or 11,982);
  • Queensland (22% or 8,486); and
  • Victoria (17% or 6,684).

Of all female prisoners, 75% were held in:

  • Queensland (27% or 869);
  • New South Wales (27% or 856); and
  • Western Australia (21% or 673).

The imprisonment rate for male prisoners was 392 persons, up from 386 persons per 100,000 adult male population from the September quarter 2020.

The imprisonment rate for female prisoners was 32 persons, up from 31 persons per 100,000 adult female population from the September quarter 2020.

Type of custody

Of all prisoners:

  • 82% (34,226) were in secure custody; and
  • 18% (7,442) in open custody.

Legal status

Of the 41,645 prisoners (first day of the month), 67% (27,913) were sentenced prisoners.

There were 13,633 unsentenced prisoners:

  • up from 13,081 in the September quarter 2020; and
  • down from 14,128 in the December quarter 2019.

Victoria was the main contributor to the national increase in unsentenced prisoners for the quarter, up 9% (210) to 2,676, followed by Queensland, up 6% (160) to 2,804.

(a) Based on average number on the first day of the month

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander prisoners

There were 12,344 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander prisoners:

  • up from 12,073 in the September quarter 2020; and
  • up from 12,322 in the December quarter 2019.

Of all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander prisoners:

  • Almost three quarters (74%) were in New South Wales (27% or 3,364), Queensland (26% or 3,193) and Western Australia (21% or 2,632);
  • 90% (11,162) were male; and
  • 65% (8,055) were sentenced.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander imprisonment rates

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander imprisonment rate was 2,333 persons per 100,000 adult Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population:

  • up from 2,282 in the September quarter 2020; and
  • down from 2,393 in the December quarter 2019.

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander imprisonment rate for:

  • male prisoners was 4,271┬ápersons, up from 4,184┬ápersons per 100,000 adult male Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population last quarter; and
  • female prisoners was 442 persons, up from 425 persons per 100,000 adult female Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population last quarter.

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander imprisonment rate per 100,000 adult Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population increased for the quarter for:

  • the Northern Territory, up 5%;
  • Queensland and Victoria, up 4%;
  • South Australia, up 2%;
  • New South Wales, up 1%; and
  • Western Australia, up less than 1%.

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander imprisonment rate per 100,000 adult Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population decreased for the quarter for:

  • Australia Capital Territory, down 7%; and
  • Tasmania, down 1%.

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

Federal sentenced prisoners

There were 952 federal sentenced prisoners:

  • up from 813 in the September quarter 2020, and
  • up from 870 in the December quarter 2019.

Over three quarters (77%) of all federal sentenced prisoners were in New South Wales (45% or 425) and Victoria (32% or 305).

Community-based corrections

There were 77,919 persons serving CBC orders:

  • down from 78,401 in the September quarter 2020; and
  • down from 83,648 in the December quarter 2019.

Victoria drove the 1% (482) decrease for persons serving CBC orders for the quarter despite increases in five of the eight states and territories.

Persons serving CBC orders decreased for the quarter for:

  • Victoria, down 16%;
  • the Australian Capital Territory, down 4%; and
  • South Australia, down 1%.

Persons serving CBC orders increased for the quarter for:

  • the Northern Territory, up 3%;
  • New South Wales, Queensland and Tasmania, up 2%; and
  • Western Australia, up less than 1%.

a) Based on average number on the first day of the month

Rates for persons in community-based corrections

The rate of persons serving CBC orders was 389 persons per 100,000 adult population:

  • down from 392 persons in the September quarter 2020; and
  • down from 424 persons in the December quarter 2019.

The rate of persons serving CBC orders per 100,000 adult population decreased for the quarter for:

  • Victoria, down 16%;
  • the Australian Capital Territory, down 4%; and
  • South Australia, down 1%.

The rate of persons serving CBC orders per 100,000 adult population increased for the quarter for:

  • the Northern Territory, New South Wales and Queensland, up 2%; and
  • Tasmania, up 1%.

The rate of persons serving CBC orders per 100,000 adult population was stable in Western Australia.

a) Rate per 100,000 persons for the state/territory of interest.

Sex

Of all persons serving CBC orders:

  • Male persons represented 81% (62,885); and
  • Female persons represented 19% (15,001).

The rate for male persons serving CBC orders was 640 persons for the quarter, down from 644 persons per 100,000 adult male population.

The rate for female persons serving CBC orders was 147 persons for the quarter, down from 149 persons per 100,000 adult female population.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander persons

There were 17,324 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander persons serving CBC orders:

  • up from 16,923 in the September quarter 2020; and
  • down from 17,661 in the December quarter 2019.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander persons serving CBC orders increased for the quarter for:

  • Queensland, up 5%;
  • the Northern Territory, up 4%;
  • New South Wales, South Australia and Tasmania, up 3%; and
  • Western Australia, up less than 1%.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander persons serving CBC orders decreased for the quarter for:

  • Victoria, down 16%; and
  • the Australian Capital Territory, down 2%.

Three states accounted for 82% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander persons serving CBC orders:

  • New South Wales (45% or 7,771);
  • Queensland (27% or 4,612); and
  • Western Australia (10% or 1,746).

(a) 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 CBC order types, persons may be counted more than once if they have two or more different types of orders operating simultaneously.

Of all CBC order types, the greatest quarterly movements were for:

  • Community service which decreased by 3% (375), down to 12,900;
  • Fine option which decreased by 22% (213), down to 755; and
  • Sentenced probation which increased by 198 persons, up to 53,973.

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

a) 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

The total number of prisoner receptions was 16,309, compared to:

  • 15,919 in the September quarter 2020; and
  • 17,577 in the December quarter 2019.

Prisoner receptions increased for the quarter for:

  • the Northern Territory, up 13%;
  • Western Australia, up 12%;
  • New South Wales, up 3%; and
  • Victoria, up 1%.

Prisoner receptions decreased for the quarter for:

  • the Australian Capital Territory, down 11%;
  • Tasmania, down 5%;
  • South Australia, down 4%; and
  • Queensland, down 1%.

Of all prisoner receptions:

  • 87% (14,263) were male;
  • 13% (2,042) were female;
  • 22% (3,520) were sentenced; and
  • 78% (12,789) were unsentenced.

Unsentenced prisoner receptions increased by 2% (304) for the quarter, up to 12,789.

Sentenced prisoner receptions increased by 3% (86) for the quarter, up to 3,520.

(a) Total number of prisoner receptions.

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

Data downloads

Corrective Services datacubes

Data files

Previous catalogue number

This release previously used catalogue number 4512.0.