Australian Institute of Criminology

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Deaths in custody in Australia: National Deaths in Custody Program 2007

Monitoring report no. 3

Jane Curnow and Jacqueline Joudo Larsen
ISBN 978 1 921532 18 4 ISSN 1836-2095
Canberra: Australian Institute of Criminology, May 2009

Abstract

The National Deaths in Custody Program (NDICP) is responsible for monitoring the extent and nature of deaths that have occurred in prison, police and juvenile custody since 1980. The Australian Institute of Criminology (AIC) has coordinated the NDICP since its establishment in 1992; the result of a recommendation made by the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody (RCIADIC) the previous year. The program is unique. No other country has consistently collected similar data over such a long period of time.

The overall number of recorded deaths, and the rate per relevant population, has declined significantly in prisons since 1997. However, there has been no statistically significant change in the overall number of police custody deaths since 1990. The overall trend masks the long-term decline in Category 1 police custody deaths. Category 2 deaths (which include pursuits and police shootings) increased until 2002 and then began to decline.