Dashboard provides quarterly reporting of deaths in custody

Today the Australian Institute of Criminology (AIC) has released updated statistics to the deaths in custody dashboard. The dashboard presents quarterly deaths in custody data for the April–June quarter, the year to date (January–June) and the last five years.

Deputy Director of the AIC Dr Rick Brown said the AIC releases the program reports annually, however the dashboard now produces more timely statistics, with data being updated two months after the end of each quarter.

“Our agency recognises that applied criminological research should inform policy, practice and the wider community debate on issues of concern, and so we have liaised with all of government to ensure we provide the most accurate information as timely as possible,” Dr Brown said.

In July 2021 the AIC formed the National Deaths in Custody Program (NDICP) Steering Group to provide advice on matters associated with ongoing program implementation. Members of the steering group include data providers from police and correctional authorities in each state and territory, the National Indigenous Australians Agency (NIAA) and National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services.

“We have coordinated the NDICP since its establishment in 1992, reporting on the number of deaths in prison and police custody in Australia since 1980, and the patterns and trends observed in those deaths,” he said.

In the 30 years since the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody, the NDICP has recorded 517 Indigenous deaths in custody. Between 1 April and 30 June 2022 there were 26 deaths in custody – five Indigenous deaths and 21 non-Indigenous deaths. All deceased were male. Of the 19 deaths for which manner of death was known, 13 of the deaths were from natural causes, four were self-inflicted and two were justifiable homicides.

Last year a new Indigenous Justice Research Program was also established by AIC, the NIAA, and the Indigenous Justice Clearinghouse. This innovative program funds research into the factors that contribute to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander over-representation in the criminal justice system, while aiming to reduce the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in detention.

The deaths in custody dashboard is available on the Australian Institute of Criminology website.  

Find out more information on the Indigenous Justice Research Program.

Background notes

Data presented for deaths occurring in the most recent quarter are based on preliminary data. Preliminary data are subject to further revisions and may differ to data published in the Deaths in custody in Australia annual report. Analyses of data in previous years have shown little difference between initial supply of data and finalised data.

NDICP data are reviewed regularly and updated where further information is available. Consequently, number may differ between the quarterly dashboards and annual reports.

The NDICP is compiled from two main data sources:

  • NDICP data collection forms completed by all state and territory police services and correctional departments in Australia
     
  • coronial records, including transcripts of proceedings and findings, as well as toxicology and post-mortem reports.

The information presented in the report is quantitative and intended to provide an overview of statistical trends and patterns. It does not provide information on individual cases, or information of a more qualitative nature.