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Guide for the NSW Adult Criminal Sentencing Tool

BOCSAR's NSW Adult Criminal Sentencing Tool is an interactive application presenting information on principal penalties imposed on adult offenders convicted in NSW Local and Higher Criminal Courts for the most recent 5 years. Users can obtain aggregated information by offence type, penalty and sentence duration, jurisdiction and offenders' gender.

For definitions of the variables used in the Tool please visit our Criminal Court Definitions page.

Instructions, tips and FAQs for using this Tool are provided below.

Counting unit

Only adult offenders (i.e. offenders aged 18 years and over) convicted in NSW Local and Higher Criminal Courts are included. Each offender is only counted once per proven court appearance.  Where an offender person has been found guilty of more than one offence in the same proven court appearance, the offence shown is prioritised by the principal offence, i.e. the offence which received the most serious penalty. 

Selecting an offence

Use the drop down menus at the top of the Tool to select your offence. There are three offence levels to choose from: offence division, sub-division or group. You can only choose one offence category per drop down menu at a time. The offences automatically update to reflect only those within your selected offence division or subdivision.

For information about domestic violence or child sex offenders, use the offence division drop down menus to first select 'Acts intended to cause injury' (for assault) or 'Sexual assault and related offences' (for sex offences). The relevant domestic violence and child sex offence groups are available under the offence group drop down menu.

Offences are classified by the Australian and New Zealand Standard Offence Classification (ANZSOC).

Refine your selection: Year, Gender, Jurisdiction and Sentence

Use the drop down menus on the second row at the top of the Tool to further refine your selection.

  • Select the year you are interested in using the 'Year' drop down menu. The default 'All' combines 5 years of data.
  • Select male or female offenders using the 'Gender' drop down menu. The default 'All' combines both genders. There is also a visualisation to the far right of the Tool showing summary information about offenders' genders.
  • Select Local or Higher Courts using the 'Jurisdiction' drop down menu. The default 'All' combines both jurisdictions. There is also a jurisdiction visualisation to the far right of the Tool showing summary information about the jurisdiction where proven court appearances were finalised.
  • Select the sentence you are interested in using the 'Sentence' drop down menu. The default 'All' combines all sentence types.

Brief descriptions of each sentence type:

  • Prison: Offenders sentenced to imprisonment are deprived of their liberty by being detained in prison, gaol or a detention centre.
  • Supervised Community Sentence: Offenders are supervised; they must regularly report to and obey reasonable directions from their Community Corrections Officer. This category of penalties includes supervised bonds, supervised Community Corrections Orders, supervised Community Service Orders, suspended sentences with supervision, supervised Conditional Release Orders, Intensive Correction Orders and Home Detention.
  • Unsupervised Community Sentence: Offenders are not formally supervised. This category of penalties includes unsupervised bonds, unsupervised Conditional Release Orders, unsupervised Community Correction Orders and suspended sentences without supervision.
  • Fine: Offenders are ordered to pay a sum of money (in Australian dollars) to the Crown.
  • Other: Includes penalties of no conviction recorded, conviction only, and no action taken on a breach of bond.

For further details on sentence (penalty) categories, please visit our Criminal Court Definitions page.

Your selection

You can check your selections by viewing the filters turned ‘on’ at the top of the page. Every time you make a selection using the filters at the top of the Tool each visualisation updates to reflect your selection.

Visualisations

In addition to the jurisdiction and gender visualisations explained above there are six graphs. Hovering over each visualisation provides percentages and counts for each data point.

  • Sentences: This graph shows the different types of sentences imposed on offenders (eg prison, supervised and unsupervised community sentences, fines and other sentences).
  • Sentences by Year: This graph shows sentences imposed on offenders over time.
  • Volume of Offenders: This graph shows the total number of adults convicted in NSW Criminal Courts by year.
  • Prison Sentence Length: This graph shows the non-parole period of prison sentences imposed on offenders. It is expressed in month and year bands.
  • Community Sentence Length: This graph shows the supervised and unsupervised community sentence imposed on offenders expressed in month and year bands. Where the length of the community sentence was not recorded, it is excluded from this graph. As such, the counts provided in this graph may be slightly lower than those provided in other graphs. Community Service Orders hours are excluded as they cannot be readily translated into months/years.
  • Fine Amount: This graph shows the fine in Australian dollars ($) imposed on offenders.

FAQs

Which browser should I use?

This Tool works best when using a Google Chrome internet browser. We do not guarantee the Tool's performance on other browsers.

What is the best viewing platform?

This Tool was developed primarily for use on PCs and laptop devices. While it can be accessed on mobile devices (such as tablets and phones) the formatting and layout on these devices is not as user friendly.

Why does the Tool deliver slightly different results to other BOCSAR publications?

The outputs produced by this Tool are broadly consistent with other published BOCSAR reports but do not match exactly due to slight differences in counting rules.

How can I print or save the graphs?

The graphs can be printed from within the Tool by either 'Print screen' from your keyboard or saved using screen shot software (e.g. Snipping Tool).

How can I get the data used to create the graphs?

Due to limitations of Tableau Public (which is what this Tool uses) data used to create each visualisation cannot be rendered automatically. Please contact our Information Service to enquire about obtaining the data used to generate the specific visualisation/s you are interested in.

How frequently is the data updated?

BOCSAR releases court data twice a year, generally in May and November. To ensure court data is as accurate, valid and reliable as can be, we release data approximately 5 to 6 months after each calendar and financial year (eg in May we release data ending December for the previous year).

Please note that the Tool displays and operates slightly differently in different internet browsers (eg Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Internet Explorer). As such, to ensure you are receiving the most recent sentencing data available please clear your browsing history before running your data queries.

Why are some graphs not showing any results?

If no data is shown in a graph it is because there are either no records of that offence or the filter selections made are not available, or the records have been suppressed for confidentiality/privacy considerations.

Who can I contact for further information?

If you have any questions or require assistance using this Tool, or have feedback for improvements in future iterations, please email bcsr@justice.nsw.gov.au.