Findings from the national police custody survey: offences

Arising from recommendations made by the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody, the Australian Institute of Criminology conducted the fourth national police custody survey in October 2002 with the cooperation of each police jurisdiction in Australia. One of the variables recorded was the most serious offence for which the person was in custody. The figures show that people were most likely to be in custody for violent, property or public order offences. The most common offence for non-Indigenous persons was property offences. Among Indigenous persons just under one quarter of custody incidents were for public order offences. Indigenous persons were more likely than non-Indigenous persons to be in custody for public order, violent and justice offences while non-Indigenous persons were more likely than Indigenous persons to be in custody for traffic and drug offences. Indigenous persons have markedly lower incidences of drug and fraud offences than non-Indigenous persons. These figures refer only to incidents in which an offence was recorded and so exclude incidents of custody for public drunkenness where this is not an offence (New South Wales, Western Australia, South Australia, the Northern Territory, Tasmania and the ACT).

Selected most serious offence type associated with being in custody [see attached PDF for graph]


  • Taylor N & Bareja M 2005. 2002 National police custody survey. Technical and background paper no 13. Canberra: Australian Institute of Criminology