Australian Institute of Criminology

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Criminal justice resources

  • ISBN 978 1 921185 68 7 ; ISSN 1832-228X
  • Canberra: Australian Institute of Criminology, 2008

Justice expenditure

According to the Report on government services 2007 (reference 22) the total real recurrent expenditure (less revenue from own sources) on justice in 2005-06 was slightly more than $9 billion. Of this, approximately $8.5 billion was spent on criminal justice. The remaining $540 million was spent on the administration of civil courts. Since 2001-02, expenditure on criminal justice has increased by 33% overall and by an average of 8% each year.

Police services represent the largest component of the criminal justice system, accounting for approximately 73% of total expenditure. Corrective services account for a further 22%, while criminal courts administration accounts for the remaining 5% (Figure 98).

Source: Reference 22

Figure 98 : Composition of government expenditure on criminal justice, 2005-06

Source: Reference 22


Policing activities are predominantly the responsibility of the police agencies of state and territory governments, with the Australian Federal Police providing a community policing service in the ACT on behalf of the ACT Government. Funding for these services comes almost exclusively from state and territory government budgets, with some specific purpose grants provided by the Australian Government.

The figures below exclude resource data for the AFP for non-ACT policing functions.


The total recurrent expenditure on police services across Australia in 2005-06 was approximately $6.4 billion. This amounts to $310 for every person in Australia, or $404 per adult. Salaries accounted for 76% of this expenditure.

Real total recurrent expenditure (less revenue from own sources and payroll tax) in 2005-06 was $5.9 billion, or $288 for every person or $374 per adult.

Table 11 : Expenditure on state and territory police services, 2005-06
Total recurrent expenditure 6,400.4
Total capital expenditure 447.4
Total expenditure 6,487.8
Staff salaries($)
Average police staff salaries 88,765
Average non-police staff salaries 56,002

Source: Reference 22

Figure 99 : Recurrent expenditure on state and territory police services per head of adult population, 2005-06

  • Recurrent expenditure on police services per head of adult population ranged from about $374 in Victoria to $1,189 in the Northern Territory.

Source: References 2 and 22


Most people involved directly in the delivery of police services are sworn police officers (employees recognised under each jurisdiction's policing legislation). Sworn officers exercise police powers such as arrest, summons, caution, detain, fingerprint and search.

In recent years there has been a trend towards civilianisation of police services, with some non-core activities undertaken by unsworn officers or contracted to external providers.

  • Total police services staffing in Australia (excluding the AFP) on 30 June 2006 was 59,587. This averages 289 per 100,000 persons (224 sworn police officers and 66 civilian employees).
  • There were 46,058 sworn police officers and 13,529 civilian employees making up Australian police services in 2006.

Source: References 2 and 22

Table 12 : Composition of state and territory police services by jurisdiction, 30 June 2006(a)
JurisdictionSworn police officersCivilianTotalSworn officers per 1,000 sq km
a: Excludes Australian Federal Police for non-ACT policing
NSW 14,634 3,936 18,570 18
Vic 10,762 2,683 13,445 47
Qld 9,027 3,343 12,370 5
SA 3,975 1,374 6,353 4
WA 4,979 1,113 5,088 2
Tas 1,184 376 1,560 17
NT 877 509 1,386 1
ACT 620 195 815 264
Australia 46,058 13,529 59,587 6
  • New South Wales had the largest police service in Australia, while the ACT had the smallest.
  • The Northern Territory and Queensland employed the largest proportion of civilian staff (37% and 27% respectively), and Victoria the smallest (20%).

Source: Reference 22

Table 13 : Selected Commonwealth law enforcement agency personnel, by gender, 30 June 2006(a)
a: Includes full-time, part-time and casual staff
b: Excludes ACT Policing and APS personnel
AFP - Australian Federal Police
ACC - Australian Crime Commission
ACS - Australian Customs Service
APS - Australian Protective Service
AFP (b) 1,955 1,217 3,172
Sworn 1,326 416 1,742
Unsworn 629 801 1,430
ACC 227 203 430
ACS 3,304 2,274 5,578
APS 1,254 193 1,447
CrimTrac 32 22 54
Total 6,772 3,909 10,681
  • More than half the Australian Government law enforcement personnel are employed by the Australian Customs Service (52%) with another 30% in the AFP and 14% in the APS.
  • Males represented between 53% and 62% of personnel in each agency, except the APS where they comprised 87% of all personnel.
  • On 30 June 2006, 55% of AFP staff were sworn officers, of whom 76% were male. Females made up 56% of civilian staff in the AFP.

Sources: References 28, 29, 30, 31

Figure 100 : Sworn police officers, by jurisdiction, 30 June 2005 and 30 June 2006 (rate per 100,000 persons)

  • On 30 June 2006 the Northern Territory had the largest number of police officers per 100,000 population (424), while the ACT had the smallest (189). However, the ACT had 264 sworn police officers per 1,000 square km, while the Northern Territory had only one.
  • Excluding the Northern Territory, there is little difference across jurisdictions in the number of sworn police officers per 100,000 population.

Source: References 2 and 22

Figure 101 : Sworn and unsworn police by gender, 1998-2006 (percent)

  • Between 1998 and 2006 there has been an increase in the percentage of female police staff (sworn and unsworn) from 26% to 31%.

Source: Reference 22

Court administration

Total recurrent expenditure on court administration services across Australia (excluding the High Court) was $1.25 billion in 2005-06, approximately $500,000 more than 2004-05. Expenditure for criminal courts administration was about $525 million for 2005-06, an increase from $493 million the previous year.

Total criminal court expenditure less income (excluding fines) was $504 million. This amounts to $24 for every person in Australia, or $32 per adult.

Source: Reference 22

Figure 102 : Total expenditure (less income) for criminal courts, 2005-06

  • Magistrates courts incurred 54% of total criminal court expenditure in 2005-06, the same as in 2004-05.
  • Intermediate courts incurred 32% and supreme courts were 14%, and again the same as the previous year.

Source: Reference 22

Figure 103 shows the average expenditure per case lodgment in the criminal courts. The higher the level of court, the higher the cost associated with each criminal case lodgment. This is because more complex and lengthy cases are typically heard in the higher courts.

Figure 103 : Average expenditure per criminal case lodgment, 2005-06

  • In 2005-06, average expenditure per criminal case lodgment was $367 in magistrates courts, $5,831 in intermediate courts and $13,032 in supreme courts. This expenditure has increased in all courts since the previous year.

Source: Reference 22

Adult corrective services

Resources allocated for corrective services in Australia are divided into two broad categories: prisons and community corrections.

Total net expenditure on corrective services in Australia was approximately $2.5 billion in 2005-06: $2.2 billion (88%) for prisons, $236 million (10%) for community corrections and $63 million (3%) for transport and escort services. This corresponds to $120 for every person in Australia, or $156 for every adult.

Source: References 2 and 22

Figure 104 : Recurrent expenditure on corrective services per head of adult population, 2004-05 to 2005-06 ($)

  • Recurrent expenditure on corrective services per head of adult population ranged from $100 in Victoria to $418 in the Northern Territory.
  • In 2005-06 each state and territory increased their recurrent expenditure on corrective services per head of the population.

Source: References 2 and 22

Figure 105 : Corrective services expenditure per offender per day, by jurisdiction 2005-06 ($)

a: Includes both remand prisoners in ACT and sentenced prisoners in NSW

  • Average expenditure per prisoner per day was $185, ranging from $158 in Queensland to $276 in the Australian Capital Territory.
  • Expenditure per offender sentenced to community corrections programs per day was $12. The cost for offenders sentenced to prison was 15 times greater.
  • Overall in 2005-06, $67,343 was spent for every prisoner and $4,271 for each offender sentenced to community corrections programs.

Source: Reference 22