NSW Prison Population at five year low

Release Date: Thursday 4 November 2021

Link to report summary:-


The number of adults in prison fell by almost 10% in the past two years due to COVID 19 influences – a five year low for NSW. 

In September 2021 the prison population was 12,254, a 1,268 person decrease from 13,522 in the pre-pandemic period of September 2019.

Between September 2019 and September 2021:

  • The total number of adult prisoners fell 9.4% (down 1,268)
  • The number of male prisoners fell 8.6% (down 1,080)
  • The number of female prisoners fell 19.4% (down 188)
  • The number of Aboriginal male prisoners fell 2.3% (down 75)
  • The number of Aboriginal female prisoners fell 9.2% (down 29)

"We saw a sharp drop in prisoner numbers during both the 2020 and the 2021 NSW lockdowns" said Jackie Fitzgerald, Executive Director at BOCSAR.  "This is an abrupt change from pre-pandemic patterns during which prisoner volumes increased steadily for many years."    

"The suspension of court operations and concern for prisoner welfare in relation to COVID 19 means fewer people have been incarcerated. This change has meant that the prison population is now lower than it has been since 2015" commented Ms Fitzgerald.

As offending levels and the criminal justice system return to normal, BOCSAR anticipates the adult prison population will return to pre-COVID 19 levels during the next 12 months.  

"Unfortunately the COVID-related fall in the prison population has been less significant for Aboriginal men and women.  This means that the problem of Aboriginal over-representation remains very concerning."  

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