Australian Institute of Criminology

Skip to content

Chapter 7: Criminal justice resources

Justice expenditure

According to the Report on Government Services in 2011 (Reference 23), the total real recurrent expenditure (less revenue from own sources) on justice in 2009–10 was $12.3b. Of this, approximately $11.7b was spent on criminal justice. The remaining $618m was spent on the administration of civil courts. Since 2002–03, expenditure on criminal justice has increased by 42 percent overall and by an average of eight percent each year.

Police services represent the largest component of the criminal justice system, accounting for approximately 70 percent of total expenditure. Corrective services account for a further 24 percent, while criminal courts administration accounts for the remaining six percent (see Figure 113).

Figure 113: Composition of government expenditure on criminal justice, 2009–10 (%)

Composition of government expenditure on criminal justice, 2009–10 (%)

Total=$11,716,000,000

Source: Reference 23

Police

Policing activities are predominantly the responsibility of the state and territory government policing agencies, with the AFP providing a community policing service in the Australian Capital Territory on behalf of the ACT Government. Funding for these services comes almost exclusively from state and territory government budgets, with some specific-purpose grants provided by the Australian Government. The figures below exclude resource data for the AFP for non-ACT policing functions.

Expenditure

The total recurrent expenditure on police services around Australia in 2009–10 was approximately $8.5b. This amounts to $380 per person in Australia, or $493 per adult. Salaries accounted for 76 percent (ie $6.4b) of this expenditure.

Real total recurrent expenditure (less revenue from own sources and payroll tax) in 2009–10 was $8.2b, or $368 per person or $478 per adult.

Table 9: Expenditure on state and territory police services, 2009–10 ($)
Expenditure (incl salaries) ‘000
Total recurrent expenditure 8502.5
Total capital expenditure 643
Staff salaries
Average police staff salaries 112,942.06
Average non-police staff salaries 73,293.42

Source: Reference 23

Figure 114: Recurrent expenditure on police services per head of adult population in each state or territory, 2009–10 ($)

Recurrent expenditure on police services per head of adult population in each state or territory, 2009–10 ($)

  • The Northern Territory spent the most money per head of its adult population ($1,560) of any state in Australia, while Victoria spent the least ($427 per head of Victorian adult population)
  • An average of $493 was spent nationally per adult head of the population.

Source: References 2 and 23

Staffing

Most people involved directly in the delivery of police services are sworn police officers (employees recognised under each jurisdiction’s policing legislation). Sworn officers exercise police powers such as arrest, summons, caution, detain, fingerprint and search.

In recent years, there has been a trend towards civilianisation of police services, with some peripheral activities undertaken by unsworn officers or contracted to external providers.

  • On 30 June 2010, the total police services staffing in Australia (excluding the AFP) was 64,830. This averaged 290 per 100,000 persons (222 sworn police officers and 68 civilian employees).
  • Across Australia, in 2010, police services were comprised of a total of 49,693 sworn police officers and 15,137 civilian employees.

Source: References 2 and 23

Table 10: Composition of state and territory police services by jurisdictiona, 2009–10 (n)
Jurisdiction Sworn police officers Civilian staffb Total Police officers by 1,000 km2
NSW 15,287 3,668 18,955 19
Vic 11,293 3,087 14,380 50
Qld 10,293 4,113 14,406 6
WA 5,471 1,908 7,379 2
SA 4,379 1,186 5,565 4
Tas 1,195 378 1,573 18
ACT 707 228 935 301
NT 1,068 569 1,637 1
Australia 49,693 15,137 64,830 6

a: Excludes AFP for non-ACT policing

b: Includes ‘other staff’

  • In 2009–10, the 49,693 sworn police officers in Australia was the equivalent of six police officers per 1,000 square kilometre.
  • Thirty-five percent (n=569) of the total police staff in the Northern Territory were civilian; the largest proportion of any state/territory in Australia. By comparison, in New South Wales, civilians comprised only 19 percent of total police staff.
  • Despite having the smallest number of police staff given its small geographic size, the Australian Capital Territory had the largest number of sworn police officers per 1,000 square kilometre (n=301). Victoria had the second highest number of police officers per 1,000 square kilometre with 50.

Source: Reference 23

Figure 115: Sworn police officers, by jurisdiction, at 30 June 2009 and 30 June 2010 (per 100,000 persons in that jurisdiction)

Sworn police officers, by jurisdiction, at 30 June 2009 and 30 June 2010 (per 100,000 persons in that jurisdiction)

  • The rate of sworn police officers fell between 2009 and 2010 in five states. In New South Wales, the rate of sworn police officers per 100,000 of the state’s population declined by three percent, it also declined by three percent in Western Australia, two percent in Tasmania and by five percent in the Australian Capital Territory.
  • Victoria experienced the largest increase in the rate of sworn police; rising from 194 per 100,000 of the Victorian population in 2009 to 204 in 2010—an increase of five percent.
  • At 30 June 2009, there were 455 sworn police officers per 100,000 of the Northern Territory population, rising to 465 per 100,000 in 2010.

Source: References 2 and 23

Figure 116: Sex composition of sworn and unsworn police staff, by jurisdiction, 2009–10 (%)

Sex composition of sworn and unsworn police staff, by jurisdiction, 2009–10 (%)

  • The Northern Territory employed the highest proportion of female police staff, with females comprising 36 percent of the total police staff. By comparison, in 2009–10, 28 percent of the West Australian police force and 30 percent of the South Australian police force was female.

Source: Reference 23

Court administration

Total recurrent expenditure on court administration services around Australia (excluding the High Court and specialist jurisdiction courts) was $1.5b in 2009–10, approximately $42m more than in 2008–09. Expenditure on criminal courts’ administration was approximately $704m for 2009–10, an increase from $674m in the previous year.

Total criminal court expenditure less income (excluding fines) was $673m. This amounted to $30 per person in Australia, or $39 per adult.

Source: Reference 23

Figure 117: Total expenditure (less income) on criminal courts, 2009–10 (%)

Total expenditure (less income) on criminal courts, 2009–10 (%)

Total=$673,249,779

  • Just over half of the total expenditure (less income) on criminal courts was spent on the Magistrates’ court (approximately $339m). The Children’s courts received the smallest share, taking $34m (5% total expenditure less income).

Source: Reference 23

Figure 118 shows the average expenditure per case lodgement in the criminal courts. The higher the level of court, the higher the cost associated with each criminal case lodgement. This is because more complex and lengthy cases are generally heard in the higher courts.

Figure 118: Average expenditure per criminal case lodgement, by court, 2009–10 ($)

Average expenditure per criminal case lodgement, by court,  2009–10 ($)

  • The average expenditure in 2009–10 per criminal case ranged from $454 in the Magistrates’ court, $7,861 in the intermediate courts and up to $15,062 in the Supreme courts.
  • Compared with equivalent figures in 2008–09, there was an eight percent increase in the average expenditure per criminal case in the Magistrates’ court and a four percent increase in the intermediate courts. The average expenditure per criminal case in the Supreme courts declined by one percent in 2009–10, falling from $15,218 in 2008–09 to $15,062.

Source: Reference 23

Adult corrective services

Resources allocated for corrective services in Australia are divided into two broad categories—prisons and community corrections. Total net expenditure on corrective services in Australia was approximately $3.4b in 2009–10 with $2.9b (85%) for prisons, $409m (12%) for community corrections and $96m (3%) for transport and escort services. This corresponded to $154 for every person in Australia, or $199 for every adult.

Source: References 2 and 23

Figure 119: Real recurrent expenditure on corrective services per head of adult population, 2008–09 to 2009–10 ($)

Real recurrent expenditure on corrective services per head of adult population, 2008–09 to 2009–10 ($)

  • All states, except Queensland and New South Wales, increased their real recurrent expenditure on corrective services in 2009–10. The increase was largest in the Australian Capital Territory, which increased spending by 65 percent (from $122 per head of the state’s adult population in 2008–09 to $201 in 2009–10).
  • Similar to the previous year, the Northern Territory spent more on corrective services per head of the state’s adult population ($578) than any other state.
  • On average, Australia spent $194 per head of the adult population on corrective services in 2009–10, a three percent increase from 2008–09.

Source: References 2 and 23

Figure 120: Corrective services expenditure per offender per day, by jurisdiction, 2009–10 ($)

Corrective services expenditure per offender per day, by jurisdiction, 2009–10 ($)

  • The national expenditure on each prisoner per day was $207. This equated to $75,611 per prisoner annually. By comparison, the annual national expenditure per prisoner in community corrections equalled $6,661 in 2009–10.
  • The Australian Capital Territory spent the most per prisoner per day ($369) while Queensland and the Northern Territory spent the least ($181).
  • In 2009–10, Western Australia spent the most of any state per prisoner per day in community correction ($35); Tasmania spent the least of any state ($10).

Source: Reference 23