Australian Institute of Criminology

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Criminal justice resources

Justice expenditure

According to the Report on Government Services in 2009 (Reference 21), the total real recurrent expenditure (less revenue from own sources) on justice in 2007–08 was $10.7b. Of this, approximately $10.2b was spent on criminal justice. The remaining $521m was spent on the administration of civil courts. Since 2002–03, expenditure on criminal justice has increased by 33 percent overall and by an average of seven percent each year.

Police services represent the largest component of the criminal justice system, accounting for approximately 70 percent of total expenditure. Corrective services account for a further 24 percent, while criminal courts administration accounts for the remaining six percent (Figure 98).

Source: Reference 21

Figure 98: Composition of government expenditure on criminal justice, 2007–08 (%)

Figure 98 Composition of government expenditure on criminal justice, 2007–08

Total = $10,202,000,000

Police

Policing activities are predominantly the responsibility of the state and territory government policing agencies, with the AFP providing a community policing service in the Australian Capital Territory 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.

Figures 99 to 101 exclude resource data for the AFP for non-ACT policing functions.

Expenditure

The total recurrent expenditure on police services around Australia in 2007–08 was approximately $7.4b. This amounts to $348 per person in Australia, or $453 per adult. Salaries accounted for 76 percent (ie $5,644,200) of this expenditure.

Real total recurrent expenditure (less revenue from own sources and payroll tax) in 2007–08 was $7.2b, or $334 per person or $435 per adult.

Table 11: Expenditure on state and territory police services in 2007–08
Expenditure, including salaries($'000)
Total recurrent expenditure 7,447.6
Total capital expenditure 468.8
Total expenditure 7,916.4
Average staff salaries($)
Average police staff salaries 103,262
Average non-police staff salaries 63,781

Source: Reference 21

Figure 99: Recurrent expenditure on police services per head of adult population in each state or territory, 2007–08 ($)

Figure 99 Recurrent expenditure on police services per head of adult population in each state or territory, 2007–08

  • Recurrent expenditure on police services per head of adult population ranged from about $394 in Victoria to $1,343 in the Northern Territory.
  • The national average was $453 per head of adult population.

Source: References 2 and 21

Staffing

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 peripheral activities undertaken by unsworn officers or contracted to external providers.

  • Total police services staffing in Australia (excluding the AFP) on 30 June 2008 was 62,455. This averages 291 per 100,000 persons (224 sworn police officers and 67 civilian employees).
  • There were 48,024 sworn police officers and 14,432 civilian employees making up Australian police services in 2008.

Source: References 2 and 21

Table 12: Composition of state and territory police servicesa at 30 June 2008, by jurisdiction (n)
JurisdictionSworn police officersCivilianTotalSworn officers per 1,000 sq km
a: Excludes Australian Federal Police for non-ACT policing
b: Difference in totals is a result of rounding
NSW 15,020 3,803 18,822b 19
Vic 11,021 2,734 13,755 48
Qld 9,695 3,875 13,570 6
SA 4,116 1,217 5,333 4
WA 5,382 1,634 7,016 2
Tas 1,181 432 1,613 17
NT 931 533 1,464 1
ACT 678 204 882 288
Australia 48,024 14,432 62,455 6
  • New South Wales had the largest police service in Australia and the Australian Capital Territory had the smallest.
  • The Northern Territory employed the largest proportion of civilian staff (36%), while New South Wales and Victoria both employed the smallest proportion (20% for both states).
  • Per 1,000 square km, the Australian Capital Territory had 288 sworn police officers and the Northern Territory had one.

Source: Reference 21

Figure 100: Sworn police officers at 30 June 2007 and 30 June 2008, by jurisdiction (per 100,000 persons in that jurisdiction)

Figure 100 Sworn police officers at 30 June 2007 and 30 June 2008, by jurisdiction

  • On 30 June 2008, the Northern Territory had the largest number of police officers (424 per 100,000 persons in that jurisdiction); the Australian Capital Territory had the smallest (196 per 100,000).
  • The national average was 224 sworn police officers per 100,000 persons.

Source: References 2 and 21

Figure 101: Composition of sworn and unsworn police staff, 2007–08, by jurisdiction, by sex (%)

Figure 101 Composition of sworn and unsworn police staff, 2007–08, by jurisdiction, by sex

  • Male staff represented 68 percent of all staff (sworn and unsworn) in state and territory police services in 2007–08. The highest proportion of male staff was 73 percent in Western Australia.

Source: Reference 21

Court administration

Total recurrent expenditure on court administration services around Australia (excluding the High Court and specialist jurisdiction courts) was $1.44b in 2007–08, approximately $100m more than in 2006–07. Expenditure on criminal courts' administration was about $617m for 2007–08, an increase from $570m in the previous year.

Total criminal court expenditure less income (excluding fines) was $595m. This amounts to $28 per person in Australia, or $36 per adult.

Source: Reference 21

Figure 102: Total expenditure (less income) on criminal courts, 2007–08 (%)

Figure 102 Total expenditure (less income) on criminal courts, 2007–08

Total = $595,426,501

  • Magistrates' courts incurred 51 percent of all criminal court expenditure in 2007–08, down only one percent from prior year. Children's courts incurred five percent, as they did in 2006–07.
  • Intermediate courts incurred 31 percent and Supreme Courts incurred 13 percent of total criminal court expenditure, similar to previous year figures of 30 percent and 13 percent respectively.

Source: Reference 21

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

Figure 103: Average expenditure per criminal case lodgement, 2007–08, by court ($)

Figure 103 Average expenditure per criminal case lodgement, 2007–08, by court

  • In 2007–08, average expenditure per criminal case lodgement was $393 in Magistrates' courts, $7,020 in intermediate courts and $13,927 in Supreme Courts. Compared with the previous year, the expenditure has increased in intermediate courts, while the average expenditure per lodgement in Supreme Courts and Magistrates' Courts has declined since 2006–07.

Source: Reference 21

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 $3b in 2007–08; $2.6b (89%) for prisons, $274m (9%) for community corrections and $66m (2%) for transport and escort services. This corresponds to $138 for every person in Australia, or $180 for every adult.

Source: References 2 and 21

Figure 104: Recurrent expenditure on corrective services per adult in the jurisdiction, 2006–07 to 2007–08, by jurisdiction ($)

Figure 104 Recurrent expenditure on corrective services per adult in the jurisdiction, 2006–07 to 2007–08, by jurisdiction

  • In 2007–08, recurrent expenditure on corrective services per adult in the jurisdiction ranged from $107 in South Australia to $416 in the Northern Territory.
  • In 2007–08, each state and territory, except South Australia, increased their recurrent expenditure on corrective services per head of the population.

Source: References 2 and 21

Figure 105: Corrective services expenditure per offender per day, 2007–08, by jurisdiction ($)

Figure 105 Corrective services expenditure per offender per day, 2007–08, by jurisdiction

  • Average expenditure per prisoner per day was $207, ranging from $164 in the Northern Territory to $349 in the Australian Capital Territory.
  • National average expenditure per offender sentenced to community corrections programs per day was $13. The cost for offenders sentenced to prison was 16 times as great.
  • In 2007–08, $75,468 was spent for every prisoner and $4,793 for each offender sentenced to community corrections programs.

Source: Reference 21