4513.0 - Criminal Courts, Australia, 2015-16 Quality Declaration 
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 02/03/2017   
   Page tools: Print Print Page Print all pages in this productPrint All RSS Feed RSS Bookmark and Share Search this Product


KEY FINDINGS

Australian state and territory criminal courts finalised 602,759 defendants in 2015-16, an increase of 3% (14,592 defendants) compared with 2014-15. (Table 1)

Graph Image for NUMBER OF DEFENDANTS FINALISED, All Courts, 2008-09 to 2015-16

Source(s): Criminal Courts, Australia



PRINCIPAL OFFENCE

The increase in the number of defendants finalised in 2015-16 was due to increases in those finalised with a principal offence of Traffic and vehicle regulatory offences (5% or 10,898 defendants) and Illicit drug offences (7% or 4,200 defendants). These increases were partially offset by a decrease in Public order offences (17% or 6,621 defendants). (Table 1)

Traffic and vehicle regulatory offences

The increase in Traffic and vehicle regulatory offences was due to a rise in drug-driving related offences, reflected in the increase of 19% (11,373 defendants) in the offence Exceed the prescribed content of alcohol or other substance limit. (Table 1)

This was the case in most jurisdictions, notably New South Wales, Queensland and Western Australia. The most recent Police Annual Reports for these jurisdictions indicate there has been an increased focus on targeting driving while under the influence of drugs.

Graph Image for DEFENDANTS FINALISED, Exceed the prescribed content of alcohol or other substance limit, 2008-09 to 2015-16

Source(s): Criminal Courts, Australia



Illicit drug offences

The number of defendants finalised for Illicit drug offences continued to rise. In 2015-16, 11% (63,541) of defendants finalised had a principal offence of Illicit drug offences, up from 10% (59,341) in 2014-15. More than half (59% or 37,201) of these defendants were charged with offences related to possession or use of illicit drugs. (Table 1)

Other principal offences

The number of defendants finalised with a principal offence of Public order offences continued to decrease. Between 2014-15 and 2015-16, the number decreased by 17% (6,621 defendants). These decreases were largely concentrated in Queensland (down by 25% or 4,757 defendants) and Western Australia (down by 25% or 1,808 defendants). (Tables 1, 23 and 31)

While the total number of defendants finalised with a principal offence of Offences against justice procedures, government security and government operations remained stable, there were notable movements in the number of defendants finalised within this offence division:
  • Breach of violence and non-violence restraining orders increased for the seventh consecutive year. There were 20,325 defendants finalised for this offence in 2015-16, an increase of 14% (2,516) compared with 2014-15 and 71% (8,470) compared with 2008-09.
  • Offences against government operations fell by 17% (1,225) down from a peak in 2014-15 due to a large number of failure to vote offences associated with the 2013 federal election. (Table 1)

AGE

The number of defendants finalised aged under 20 years continued to fall in 2015-16. There were 2,760 (4%) fewer defendants in the 10-19 year age group compared with 2014-15. Compared with 2008-09, this number has almost halved, falling by 42% (45,064 defendants). (Table 1)

Graph Image for NUMBER OF DEFENDANTS FINALISED, All Courts, Age group, 2008-09 to 2015-16

Source(s): Criminal Courts, Australia