NSW Custody Statistics: Quarterly update December 2020

Release Date: 10.30am Wednesday 3 February 2021

The number of people in custody in NSW remains lower than in past years due to pandemic-related influences in the justice system. 

In December 2020 there were 12,766 adults in prison. This is a 6% decline, or 869 fewer adults than in December 2019.  The December 2020 prison population was equivalent to that of December 2016, four years earlier (n=12,729).   

The female prison population has shown a larger reduction than average.  In the year to December 2020 the female prison population fell by 12% compared with a 6% reduction for males.  

As previously reported, justice responses to COVID-19 led to a large drop in the prison population in the second quarter of 2020.  The drivers were:

  • An increase in custodial discharges as people were released from remand to wait for their court case in the community
  • A reduction in remand receptions due to changes in charge volumes and remand rates
  • A reduction in prison sentences as court appearances were deferred

Throughout the second half of 2020 the prison population remained steady at post-pandemic levels.

The youth detention population has shown even larger recent reductions and is currently at historic lows.  In December 2020 there were 184 young people in custody, a 32% drop, or 86 fewer young people, than in December 2019.  

Further enquiries: Jackie Fitzgerald, Executive Director, BOCSAR  0423 139 687
Email: bcsr@justice.nsw.gov.au
Copies of the report: www.bocsar.nsw.gov.au