4517.0 - Prisoners in Australia, 2018 Quality Declaration 
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 06/12/2018   
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PRISONER CHARACTERISTICS, AUSTRALIA

SNAPSHOT

At 30 June 2018:
  • There were 42,974 prisoners in Australian prisons, an increase of 4% (1,772 prisoners) from 30 June 2017.
  • Between 2017 and 2018 the national imprisonment rate increased by 3% from 216 to 221 prisoners per 100,000 adult population. (Table 2)
  • Seven out of ten prisoners (68% or 29,030 prisoners) were sentenced, whilst 32% (13,856 prisoners) were unsentenced.
  • The most common offences/charges for prisoners were:
    • Acts intended to cause injury (22%);
    • Illicit drug offences (16%);
    • Sexual assault and related offences (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 18% (546 prisoners) in South Australia to nearly half of all prisoners in the Northern Territory (48% or 851 prisoners). (Table 16)
  • The offence/charge with the largest numerical increase in prisoners was Illicit drug offences, which went up 10% (624 prisoners).
  • The second largest numerical increase was in Sexual assault and related offences, which went up 10% (498 prisoners). As in previous years, this offence was the third most prevalent in 2018, following Acts intended to cause injury, and Illicit drug offences.
  • The largest numerical decrease in offence type was Offences against justice, which went down by 8% (252 prisoners). (Table 3)
  • Males accounted for 92% of all prisoners (39,343 prisoners) and females the remaining 8% (3,625 prisoners).

Graph Image for PERCENTAGE MOVEMENT FROM 30 JUNE 2017 TO 30 JUNE 2018, 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 2017 TO 30 June 2018, Selected prisoner characteristics

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

Source(s): Prisoners in Australia


  • Since 30 June 2017, the adult prisoner population increased across all states and territories except for South Australia, which decreased by 1% (41 prisoners). New South Wales and Victoria experienced the largest increases in prisoner numbers, increasing by 591 and 517 prisoners, respectively. (Table 15)
  • New South Wales had the largest adult prisoner population, comprising nearly one-third (32% or 13,740 prisoners) of the total Australian adult prisoner population, followed by Queensland (21% or 8,840 prisoners) and Victoria (18% or 7,666 prisoners). (Table 14)
  • The Northern Territory had the highest imprisonment rate (955 prisoners per 100,000 adult population) whilst the Tasmania had the lowest imprisonment rate (148 prisoners per 100,000 adult population). (Table 17)
Graph Image for PRISONERS, States and territories, 30 June 2008 to 30 June 2018

Source(s): Prisoners in Australia



Graph Image for IMPRISONMENT RATE(a), States and territories, 30 June 2008 to 30 June 2018

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. (Table 14)