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MEDIA RELEASE

8 December 2017

Embargoed: 11.30 am (Canberra time)

165/2017

Prisoner numbers increase by 6% over the year

The number of people in Australian prisons has increased for the sixth consecutive year, according to figures released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

There were 41,202 prisoners on the night of 30 June 2017, representing a 6 per cent increase from 30 June 2016 and a 51 per cent increase from 30 June 2007.

William Milne, ABS Director of the National Centre of Crime and Justice Statistics, said that the increase in the Australian prisoner population over the year was due to the rise in prisoners with offences of acts intended to cause injury and illicit drug offences.

“Since the previous year, prisoners with an offence of acts intended to cause injury increased by 12 per cent, while prisoners with illicit drug offences increased 18 per cent,” Mr Milne said.

“This increase in prisoners was partially offset by prisoners with an offence of theft, which decreased by 8 per cent since 2016.”

Of all states and territories, New South Wales continued to have the largest number of prisoners, accounting for 32 per cent of the national prisoner population, followed by Queensland (21 per cent), while Tasmania and the Australian Capital Territory had the lowest proportions, each with 1 per cent of total prisoners.

Sentenced prisoners made up 68 per cent of all prisoners in 2017, increasing by 6 per cent (1,550 prisoners) since last year. Unsentenced prisoners increased by 7 per cent (800 prisoners) for the same period.

As in 2016, more than one in four (27 per cent) prisoners nationally identified as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander in 2017.

Further information, including state and territory data, can be found in Prisoners in Australia, 2017 (cat. no. 4517.0), available for free download from the ABS website: http://www.abs.gov.au.

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