Australian Institute of Criminology

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Chapter 7: Criminal justice resources

Justice expenditure

According to the Report on Government Services in 2010 (Reference 22), the total real recurrent expenditure (less revenue from own sources) on justice in 2008–09 was approximately $11.6b. Of this, approximately $11b was spent on criminal justice. The remaining $598m was spent on the administration of civil courts. Since 2002–03, expenditure on criminal justice has increased by 36 percent overall and by an average of six percent each year.

Police services represent the largest component of the criminal justice system, accounting for approximately 70 percent of total expenditure. Corrective services accounted for a further 24 percent, while criminal courts administration accounted for the remaining six percent (see Figure 108).

Source: Reference 22

Figure 108: Composition of government expenditure on criminal justice, 2008–09 (%)

Composition of government expenditure on criminal justice, 2008–09 (%)

  • Total=$11,023,000,000

Source: Reference 22

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.

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

Expenditure

The total recurrent expenditure on police services around Australia in 2008–09 was approximately $8.1b. This amounts to $371 per person in Australia, or $482 per adult. Salaries accounted for 75 percent ($6.1b) of this expenditure.

Real total recurrent expenditure (less revenue from own sources and payroll tax) in 2008–09 was $8b, or $359 per person or $467 per adult.

Table 11: Expenditure on state and territory police services, 2008–09
Expenditure, including salaries ($'000)
Total recurrent expenditure 8,104.10
Total capital expenditure 538.90
Staff salaries ($)
Average police staff salaries 107,738.40
Average non-police staff salaries 66,818.15

Source: Reference 22

Figure 109: Recurrent expenditure on police services per head of adult population in each state or territory, 2008–09 ($)

Recurrent expenditure on police services per head of adult population in each state or territory, 2008–09

  • Recurrent expenditure on police services per head of adult population ranged from approximately $447 in Victoria to $1,484 in the Northern Territory.
  • The national average was $482 per head of adult population.

Source: References 2 and 22

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, detainment, 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 service staffing in Australia (excluding the AFP) on 30 June 2009 was 64,315. This averages 294 per 100,000 population (225 sworn police officers and 69 civilian employees).
  • There were 49,242 sworn police officers and 15,073 civilian employees making up Australian police services in 2009.

Source: References 2 and 22

Table 12: Composition of state and territory police services by jurisdictiona, 2008–09 (n)
Jurisdiction Sworn police officers Civilian staff Total Police officers by 1,000 sq/km Area sq/km
NSW 15,394 3,759 19,153 19 801,600
Vic 11,028 2,873 13,901 48 227,600
Qld 10,124 4,098 14,222 6 1,727,200
WA 5,522 1,952 7,474 2 2,525,500
SA 4,209 1,222 5,431 4 984,000
Tas 1,212 390 1,602 18 67,800
ACT 729 216 945 310 2,352
NT 1,024 563 1,587 1 1,346,200
Aust 49,242 15,073 64,315 6 7,682,252

a: Excludes Australian Federal Police not used for ACT policing

  • New South Wales had the largest police service in Australia and the Australian Capital Territory had the smallest.
  • The Northern Territory employed the largest percentage of civilian staff (35%), while New South Wales employed the smallest (20%).
  • Per 1,000 square km, the Australian Capital Territory had 310 sworn police officers and the Northern Territory and Western Australia had one and two respectively.

Source: Reference 22

Figure 110: Sworn police officers by jurisdiction, at 30 June 2008 and 30 June 2009 (per 100,000 population in that jurisdiction)

Sworn police officers by jurisdiction, at 30 June 2008 and 30 June 2009

  • On 30 June 2009, the Northern Territory had the largest number of police officers (455 per 100,000 population in that jurisdiction); the Australian Capital Territory had the smallest (208 per 100,000 population).
  • The national average was 223 sworn police officers per 100,000 population.

Source: References 2 and 22

Figure 111: Sex composition of sworn and unsworn police staff by jurisdiction, 2008–09 (%)

Sex composition of sworn and unsworn police staff by jurisdiction, 2008–09

The highest proportion of male police staff was in Western Australia with 71 percent. Nationally, males made up at least 68 percent of all police staff in state and territory police services in 2008–09.

Source: Reference 22

Court administration

In 2008–09, total recurrent expenditure on court administration services around Australia (excluding the High Court and specialist jurisdiction courts) was $1.5b—approximately $61m more than in 2007–08. Expenditure on criminal court administration was approximately $674m for 2008–08, an increase from $617m in the previous year.

Total criminal court expenditure less income (excluding fines) was $648m. This amounts to $30 per person in Australia, or $39 per adult.

Source: Reference 22

Figure 112: Total expenditure (less income) on criminal courts in 2008–09 (%)

Total expenditure (less income) on criminal courts in 2008–09

Total=$648,115,961

  • Fifty percent of all criminal court expenditure in 2008–09 was spent on the Magistrates' courts, a decrease of one percent from 2007–08. Children's courts received five percent, the same as for 2007–08.
  • Intermediate courts received 32 percent of total expenditure, which is a one percent increase from the previous year, while the Supreme courts received 13 percent of total criminal court expenditure.

Source: Reference 22

Figure 112 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 113: Average expenditure per criminal case lodgement by court in 2008–09 ($)

Average expenditure per criminal case lodgement by court in 2008–09

In 2008–09, the average expenditure per criminal case lodgement was $423 in Magistrates' courts, $7,585 in intermediate courts and $15,218 in Supreme courts. These figures represent an increase in expenditure per lodgement of seven, eight and nine percent respectively across all courts compared with expenditure for 2007–08.

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 $3.2b in 2008–09; $2.8b (86%) for prisons, $375m (12%) for community corrections and $71m (2%) for transport and escort services. This corresponds to $148 for every person in Australia, or $193 for every adult.

Source: References 2 and 22

Figure 114: Real recurrent expenditure on corrective services per head of adult population, 2007–08 to 2008–09 ($)

Real recurrent expenditure on corrective services per head of adult population, 2007–08 to 2008–09

  • Recurrent expenditure on corrective services per adult in the jurisdiction ranged from $122 in the Australian Capital Territory to $517 in the Northern Territory.
  • In 2008–09, each state and territory, except the Australian Capital Territory, increased their recurrent expenditure on corrective services per head of the adult population.

Source: References 2 and 22

Figure 115: Corrective services expenditure per offender per day in 2008–09 by jurisdiction ($)

Corrective services expenditure per offender per day in 2008–09

  • The Northern Territory spent $175 per prisoner per day, the lowest figure nationally, while the Australian Capital Territory spent the most, averaging $357 per day. Across Australia, the average expenditure per prisoner per day was $210.
  • By comparison, the national average expenditure per offender sentenced to community corrections programs per day was $17.
  • In 2008–09, $76,548 was spent for every prisoner and $6,198 for each offender sentenced to community corrections programs.

Source: Reference 22