Australian Institute of Criminology

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2002 National police custody survey

Technical and background paper no. 13

Natalie Taylor and Michael Bareja
ISBN 0 642 53858 1 ISSN 1445-7261
Canberra: Australian Institute of Criminology, June 2005

Abstract

This report summarises the findings of the fourth National police custody survey, which was conducted in October 2002 in conjunction with each police jurisdiction in Australia. The survey reflects an ongoing commitment by all police services in Australia to the recommendations made by the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody. Survey findings are reported on: how many people go into and out of police cells over the course of one month; why people are placed in police custody; the types of offences associated with police custody; the length of time that people are in police custody; the proportions of incidents in which Indigenous people are involved; rates of Indigenous and non-Indigenous custody per population; and whether these patterns change over time. The report finds, among other things, that while overall numbers of custody and over-representation ratios remain high, it is clear that Indigenous custody rates have been declining in some jurisdictions. The proportion of all custody incidents which are attributable to alcohol has also been declining; however Indigenous people are still being placed into police cells for public drunkenness at a much higher rate than non-Indigenous people.