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Corrective Services, Australia

National information on persons in adult custody and community based corrections

Reference period
March Quarter 2020
Released
4/06/2020

Key statistics

Persons in custody

Nationally, the average daily number of prisoners increased for the March quarter 2020 by 3% (1,090) to 44,159, compared with:

  • 43,069 in the December quarter 2019; and
  • 43,320 in the March quarter 2019.
     

There were increases for all states and territories since the December quarter 2019:

  • New South Wales (2% or 331);
  • Queensland (3% or 236);
  • Western Australia (3% or 179);
  • South Australia (6% or 170);
  • Victoria (2% or 123);
  • the Northern Territory (2% or 35);
  • the Australian Capital Territory (3% or 13); and
  • Tasmania (less than 1% or 3). (Table 1)
     
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a. Based on average daily number


The largest contributors to the national prisoner population were:

  • New South Wales (32% or 13,991);
  • Queensland (21% or 9,097);
  • Victoria (18% or 8,163); and
  • Western Australia (16% or 7,111). (Table 1)
     

The average daily imprisonment rate was 223 persons per 100,000 adult population, increasing from 218 persons in the December quarter 2019.

Of all state and territory imprisonment rates:

  • The Northern Territory continued to have the highest imprisonment rate at 971 persons per 100,000 adult population;
  • Western Australia had the second highest at 351; and
  • The Australian Capital Territory had the lowest at 133. (Table 3)
     
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a. Rate is the number of prisoners per 100,000 adult population. Based on average daily number.
 

Sex

Of all persons in custody:

  • Male prisoners represented 92% (40,579); and
  • Female prisoners represented 8% (3,580).
     

Of all male prisoners, 71% were held in:

  • New South Wales (32% or 12,977);
  • Queensland (20% or 8,233); or
  • Victoria (19% or 7,644).
     

Of all female prisoners, 74% were held in:

  • New South Wales (28% or 1,014);
  • Queensland (24% or 864); or
  • Western Australia (22% or 776). (Table 1)
     

The imprisonment rate for male prisoners was 417 persons per 100,000 adult male population, more than eleven times the rate for female prisoners (36 persons per 100,000 adult female population). (Table 5)

Type of custody

Of all persons in custody:

  • 82% (36,166) were in secure custody; compared with
  • 18% (7,993) in open custody. (Table 6)
     

Legal status

The average number of prisoners on the first day of the month was 43,995.

Since the December quarter 2019, the proportion of prisoners who were:

  • unsentenced increased to 35% (15,238) up from 33% (14,128); and
  • sentenced decreased to 65% (28,659) down from 67% (28,898). (Table 8)
     
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a. 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 increased in the March quarter 2020 by 5% (580) to 12,902, compared with:

  • 12,322 in the December quarter 2019; and
  • 12,144 in the March quarter 2019.
     

Of all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander prisoners:

  • Almost three quarters were in New South Wales (3,683), Queensland (3,142) or Western Australia (2,766);
  • 90% (11,591) were male; and
  • 10% (1,312) were female. (Table 11)
     
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a. Rate is the number of prisoners per 100,000 adult Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population. Based on average daily number.


Since the December quarter 2019, the proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander prisoners who were:

  • unsentenced increased to 36% (4,638) up from 33% (4,085); and
  • sentenced decreased to 63% (8,140) down from 67% (8,206). (Table 13)
     

The national average daily Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander imprisonment rate was 2,589 persons per 100,000 adult Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population.

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander imprisonment rate for males was 4,682 persons per 100,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adult male population, almost nine times the rate for females (523 persons per 100,000 adult Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander female population).

Of all states and territories, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander imprisonment rates were:

  • highest in Western Australia at 4,118 persons per 100,000 adult Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population; and
  • lowest in Tasmania at 740 persons. (Table 12)
     

Federal sentenced prisoners

The average first day of the month number of federal sentenced prisoners was 819, representing a decrease of 6% (51) for the quarter.

Three states accounted for the majority (87%) of federal sentenced prisoners:

  • New South Wales (48% or 396);
  • Victoria (29% or 236); and
  • Western Australia (10% or 82). (Table 10)
     

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.

Persons in community-based corrections

The average first day of the month number of persons serving CBC orders was 83,377, compared with:

  • 83,648 in the December quarter 2019; and
  • 75,565 in the March quarter 2019.
     

New South Wales increased by 3% (1,032), the only state or territory to increase, since the December quarter 2019. The largest decreases were in Queensland (3% or 687) and Victoria (4% or 461). (Table 1)

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


Three states accounted for over four-fifths of persons serving CBC orders. The distribution across these three states has shifted since the March quarter 2019:

  • New South Wales increased to 42% (35,261) from 34% (25,733);
  • Queensland decreased to 24% (20,289) from 28% (20,976); and
  • Victoria decreased to 15% (12,345) from 18% (13,339). (Table 1)
     

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

The national rate of persons serving CBC orders was 420 persons per 100,000 adult population, compared with:

  • 424 persons in the December quarter 2019; and
  • 386 persons in the March quarter 2019. (Table 16)
     
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a. Rate per 100,000 persons for the state/territory of interest.
 

​​​​​​​Sex

Of all persons serving CBC orders:

  • Male persons represented 80% (66,923); and
  • Female persons represented 20% (16,423).
     

Since the March quarter 2019, persons serving CBC orders who were:

  • Male increased by 10% (6,131); and
  • Female increased by 11% (1,666). (Table 1)
     

The rate for male persons serving CBC orders was 687 persons per 100,000 adult male population, more than four times the rate for female persons (163 persons per 100,000 adult female population). (Table 16)

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander persons

There were 17,642 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander persons serving CBC orders, an increase of 10% (1,533) since the March quarter 2019.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander persons made up over one-fifth (21%) of all persons serving CBC orders.

Three states accounted for 81% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander persons serving CBC orders:

  • New South Wales (43% or 7,623);
  • Queensland (28% or 4,946); or
  • Western Australia (10% or 1,699). (Table 18)
     
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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 community-based corrections order types, persons may be counted more than once if they have two or more different types of orders operating simultaneously.

The average first day of the month number of CBC orders was 95,704, increasing 17% (13,605) since the March quarter 2019.

Of all CBC order types, the largest increases since the March quarter 2019 were for:

  • Sentenced probation by 19% (9,078); and
  • Community service by 43% (4,487).
     

The increases for Sentenced probation and Community service can be linked to the introduction of two new sentence types in New South Wales. Refer 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:

  • 25% (482) since the December quarter 2019; and
  • 38% (904) since the March quarter 2019.
     

Sentenced probation continued to be the most common order type, accounting for 60% (57,550) of CBC orders. (Table 17)

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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 first day of the month number of prisoner receptions was 17,611, compared with:

  • 17,577 for the December quarter 2019; and
  • 17,349 for the March quarter 2019.
     

Of all prisoner receptions:

  • 86% (15,222) were male;
  • 14% (2,389) were female;
  • 22% (3,933) were sentenced; and
  • 78% (13,678) were unsentenced. (Table 21)
     
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a. 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 - March quarter 2020

Flow data

Previous catalogue number

This release previously used catalogue number 4512.0