Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research

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Aboriginal over-representation in the NSW Criminal Justice System

The over-representation of Aboriginal Australians in custody is a matter of long-standing and justified public concern. Latest figures indicate that the Aboriginal imprisonment rate in NSW is nearly 10 times the non-Aboriginal imprisonment rate (Australian Bureau of Statistics 2020). Given that Aboriginal offenders are substantially overrepresented in prison, one would expect that they are also substantially over-represented at other stages of the Criminal Justice System.

The are a number of points at which key decisions are made concerning Aboriginal people coming into contact with the justice system. These include:

  • police decisions to proceed against offenders to court
  • bail decisions
  • court outcomes, i.e. findings of guilt by the court
  • sentencing decisions, including imposing a custodial penalty
  • prison population