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Chapter 6: Criminal justice resources

Justice expenditure

According to the 2014 Report on Government Services (Reference 10), the total real recurrent expenditure (less revenue from own sources and payroll tax) on justice in 2012–13 was $14.1b. Of this, approximately $13.5b was spent on criminal justice. The remaining $620.1m was spent on the administration of civil courts. Since 2007–08, expenditure on criminal justice has increased by 24 percent overall and by an average of five percent each year.

Police services represent the largest component of the criminal justice system, accounting for approximately 71 percent of total expenditure. Corrective services account for a further 23 percent and criminal court administration accounts for the remaining six percent (see Figure 65).

Source: Reference 10

Figure 65 Composition of government expenditure on criminal justice, 2012–13 (%)

Figure 065

Note: Total=$13,485,323,339

Source: Reference 10


Policing activities are predominantly the responsibility of the state and territory government policing agencies, with the Australian Federal Police 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 Commonwealth Government. The Figures below exclude resource data for the Australian Federal Police for non-ACT policing functions.


The total recurrent expenditure on police services around Australia in 2012–13 was approximately $9.8b. This amounts to $426 per person in Australia, or $551 per adult. Salaries accounted for 74 percent (ie $7.6b) of this expenditure. The average cost of police staff salaries was $126,102 and $79,760 for non-police staff.

The total capital expenditure on police services was approximately $465.8m. Real total recurrent expenditure (less revenue from own sources and payroll tax) in 2012–13 was $9.5b, or $412 per person or $492 per adult.

Source: Reference 10

Figure 66 Recurrent expenditure on police services per head of adult population in each state or territory, 2012–13 ($)

Figure 066

  • Across Australia, $551 per adult was spent on police services in 2012–13.
  • The Northern Territory spent $1,760 per adult on police services in 2012–13; more than any other state or territory. Conversely, expenditure per head of population was lowest in Victoria ($474 per adult).

Source: References 2 and 10

Court administration

Total recurrent expenditure on court administration services around Australia (excluding the High Court and specialist jurisdiction courts) was $1.3b in 2012–13; approximately $47m less than in 2011–12. Expenditure on criminal courts’ administration was approximately $799m for 2012–13, an increase of $19m from the previous year.

Total criminal court expenditure less income (excluding fines) was $771m. This amounts to $33 per person in Australia, or $43 per adult.

Approximately half of the total expenditure on criminal courts was spent on magistrates’ courts in 2012–13. This equates to $391m.

  • The supreme courts accounted for 13 percent of the total expenditure ($102m), while the children’s courts cost $32m in 2012–13.

Source: Reference 10

Figure 67 Total expenditure (less income) on criminal courts, 2012–13 (%)

Figure 067

Note: Total=$771,117,706

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 $3.8b in 2012–13; $3.2b (85%) for prisons, $492m (13%) for community corrections and $97m (2%) for transport and escort services. This corresponds to $166 for every person in Australia, or $215 for every adult.

Source: References 2 and 10

Figure 68 Corrective services expenditure per offender per day by jurisdiction, 2012–13 ($)

Figure 068

  • In Australia in 2012–13, for every $1 spent on community corrections per offender per day, approximately $10 was spent on offenders in prisons. Over the year, approximately $80,999 was spent per prisoner in Australia compared with $8,384 per person in community corrections.
  • Community corrections cost an average of $45 per offender per day in Western Australia; the highest of all the states and territories. This cost was lowest in Tasmania ($11) and Queensland ($14).
  • The cost per prisoner per day in prison was highest in the Tasmania at $321. Conversely, it cost $189 per offender per day to keep an offender in prison in New South Wales.

Source: Reference 10