Australian Institute of Criminology

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Deaths in custody in Australia : 2003 National Deaths in Custody Program (NDICP) annual report

Technical and background paper no. 12

Marissa McCall
ISBN 0 642 53858 1 ISSN 1445-7261
Canberra: Australian Institute of Criminology, January 2004


This report presents detailed information on deaths in custody in Australian states and territories in 2003 (calendar year) for all custodial deaths, deaths in prison custody and deaths in police custody and custody-related police operations, with particular regard to demographic factors and the circumstances surrounding the deaths. The report also provides comparisons by jurisdiction. Information is presented on demographics, including Indigenous status, gender, and age at death; cause and manner of death; most serious offence leading to custody; and location of death. Trends in custodial deaths, 1990 to 2003, are also reported. The total number of deaths in police and prison custody in 2003 was 68. The majority of deaths (39) occurred in prison custody, with 29 occurring in police custody. Indigenous deaths accounted for 25%, or 17, of the overall number in 2003. There were no deaths in juvenile detention in Australia during 2003.