4517.0 - Prisoners in Australia, 2017 Quality Declaration 
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 08/12/2017   
   Page tools: Print Print Page Print all pages in this productPrint All RSS Feed RSS Bookmark and Share Search this Product


Prisoner characteristics, Australia

Snapshot

At 30 June 2017:
  • There were 41,202 prisoners in Australian prisons, an increase of 6% (2,357 prisoners) from 30 June 2016.
  • Between 2016 and 2017 the national imprisonment rate increased by 4% from 208 to 216 prisoners per 100,000 adult population. (Table 2)
  • Seven out of ten prisoners (68% or 28,199 prisoners) were sentenced, whilst 31% (12,911 prisoners) were unsentenced.
  • The most common offences/charges for prisoners were:
    • Acts intended to cause injury (23%);
    • Illicit drug offences (15%);
    • Sexual assault (12%); and
    • Unlawful entry with intent (10%). (Table 1)
  • Acts intended to cause injury was the most common offence/charge across all states and territories. The proportion of prisoners with this offence/charge ranged from 17% (523 prisoners) in South Australia to nearly half of all prisoners in the Northern Territory (47% or 745 prisoners). (Table 16)
  • The offence/charge with the largest numerical increase in prisoners was Acts intended to cause injury, which went up 12% (980 prisoners).
  • The second largest numerical increase was in Illicit drug offences, which went up 18% (919 prisoners). This offence was the second most prevalent in 2017, following Acts intended to cause injury.
  • The largest decrease in offence type was Theft, which went down by 8% (132 prisoners). (Table 3)
  • Males accounted for 92% of all prisoners (37,905 prisoners), and females the remaining 8% (3,299 prisoners).

Graph Image for PERCENTAGE MOVEMENT FROM 30 JUNE 2016 TO 30 JUNE 2017, Selected prisoner characteristics

Footnote(s): (a) Prior adult imprisonment under sentence.

Source(s): Prisoners in Australia



Graph Image for CHANGE IN PRISONER NUMBERS FROM 30 JUNE 2016 TO 30 June 2017, Selected prisoner characteristics

Footnote(s): (a) Prior adult imprisonment under sentence.

Source(s): Prisoners in Australia


  • Since 30 June 2016, the adult prisoner population increased across all states and territories except for the Northern Territory, which decreased by 4% (65 prisoners). Queensland and Victoria experienced the largest increases in prisoner numbers, which went up by 730 and 627 prisoners, respectively. (Table 15)
  • New South Wales had the largest adult prisoner population, comprising nearly one-third (32% or 13,149 prisoners) of the total Australian adult prisoner population, followed by Queensland (21% or 8,476 prisoners) and Victoria (17% or 7,149 prisoners). (Table 14)
  • The Northern Territory had the highest imprisonment rate (878 prisoners per 100,000 adult population) whilst the Australian Capital Territory had the lowest imprisonment rate (141 prisoners per 100,000 adult population). (Table 17)

Graph Image for PRISONERS, States and territories, 30 June 2007 to 30 June 2017

Source(s): Prisoners in Australia



Graph Image for IMPRISONMENT RATE(a), States and territories, 30 June 2007 to 30 June 2017

Footnote(s): (a) Rate per 100,000 adult population. See Explanatory Notes paragraphs 53-62.

Source(s): Prisoners in Australia


  • In all states and territories, at least half of all prisoners were recorded as having had prior adult imprisonment under sentence, with the highest proportions in the Australian Capital Territory (75% or 337 prisoners) followed by the Northern Territory (72% or 1,155 prisoners). (Table 14)