​Indigenous crime and imprisonment

Full report - Trends in Indigenous offending NSW: 2001-2015 (pdf, 499Kb)

Full report - What’s causing the growth in Indigenous Imprisonment in NSW? (pdf, 702Kb)

Release date: 10.30am Wednesday, 28 September 2016


Over the last 15 years in NSW the rate of Indigenous arrest for violent offences has declined by nearly 37 per cent (36.81%), while the rate of Indigenous arrest for property crime has declined by almost 33 per cent (32.95%).

The falls are apparent for both males and females but are most pronounced among Indigenous arrests for violent crime for males aged 15-19 (down 55.96%) and those aged 20-24 (down 58.44%).

According to the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research (BOCSAR), however, the decline in Indigenous arrest rates for violent and property crime has not been accompanied by a decrease in Indigenous imprisonment.

In fact, between 2001 and 2015, the number of Indigenous Australians in New South Wales prisons more than doubled. On an age-standardised basis, the rate of Indigenous imprisonment rose by 40 per cent.

The rise in Indigenous imprisonment in NSW is due to a combination of higher rates of arrest resulting in conviction, a greater likelihood of imprisonment given conviction and a higher rate of bail refusal.

The growth in number of arrests, percentage imprisoned and percentage bail refused has been especially large in the categories justice procedure offences and acts intended to cause injury.

Most of the growth in justice procedure offences is coming from arrests for breach of custodial orders (e.g. breach of a community-based order) and breach of Apprehended Violence Orders.

Most of the growth in acts intended to cause injury is coming from arrests for serious assault resulting in injury and stalking/intimidation.

Commenting on the findings the director of BOCSAR, Dr Don Weatherburn said that the growth in Indigenous imprisonment was due to a combination of tougher sentencing and tougher law enforcement.

People convicted of violent offences are now much more likely to receive a prison sentence than they were 15 years ago. Law enforcement authorities, on the other hand, appear to be taking a much firmer line in relation to breaches of community-based orders.

Further enquiries: Dr Don Weatherburn (02) 8346 1100
Copies of the report: www.bocsar.nsw.gov.au