NSW Criminal Courts Statistics 2006

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Release date: 22 August 2007
 
The latest criminal courts statistics report from the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research shows that 147,916 persons appeared in the NSW courts in 2006 charged with one or more criminal offences.

The vast majority of defendants either pleaded guilty or were found guilty of at least one of the offences for which they were charged. The overall conviction rates were 70.8 per cent in the Children's Court, 87.1 per cent in the Local Court and 83.7 per cent in the Higher (District and Supreme) Criminal Courts.

The most common offence heard in the NSW Children's Court was non-aggravated assault, although that court also dealt with a substantial number of burglary offences. The most common offences dealt with in the NSW Local Court were non-aggravated assault and driving offences. The most common offences dealt with in the Higher Criminal Courts were sexual offences, break and enter and robbery offences.

The likelihood of a prison sentence (or control order) varied according to the jurisdiction hearing the case. In the Children's Court, 9.7 per cent of convicted offenders received a control (detention) order. In the Local Courts 6.8 per cent received a sentence of imprisonment. The corresponding figure in the Higher Criminal Courts (which deal with the most serious and persistent of offenders) was 66.7 per cent.

There was a substantial increase (17.4 per cent) between 2005 and 2006 in the number of persons given suspended sentences in the District Court (from 420 to 493 people). As a proportion of all penalties handed down by the District Court, however, the change was only slight. The proportion of offenders receiving suspended sentences of one kind or another increased by 2.3 per cent between 2005 and 2006, while the proportion of offenders receiving full-time prison dropped by only 2.6 per cent.

The only other changes of note in the Higher Criminal Courts were:

  • A decrease in the proportion of cases committed for trial that proceeded to trial: from 29.6 per cent to 28.7 per cent
  • An increase in the proportion of cases committed for trial but finalised by guilty plea: from 52.8 per cent to 56.4 per cent.
  • A decrease in the median delay between committal and outcome for District Court matters where the defendant was on bail and the matter proceeded to trial (from 288 to 271 days);


Commenting on the figures, the director of the Bureau, Dr Don Weatherburn said that the slight fall between 2005 and 2006 in the percentage of offenders given sentences of full-time imprisonment by the Higher Criminal Courts should be set against the long-term upward trend in the proportion of convicted offenders going to prison.

"Between 1993 and 2006, the percentage of offenders imprisoned by the Higher Criminal Courts rose from 71 to 77 per cent for robbery, 43 to 61 per cent for assault, 61 to 76 per cent for break and enter, 29 to 58 per cent for fraud and 75 to 83 per cent for dealing and trafficking in opiates".

Further enquiries: Dr Don Weatherburn. Ph. 0419-494-408, (02) 9231-9190, www.bocsar.nsw.gov.au