Australian Institute of Criminology

Skip to content

Chapter 7: Criminal justice resources

Justice expenditure

According to the Report on Government Services in 2012 (Reference 22), the total real recurrent expenditure (less revenue from own sources) on justice in 2010–11 was $13.1b. Of this, approximately $12.5b was spent on criminal justice. The remaining $635.5m was spent on the administration of civil courts. Since 2002–03, expenditure on criminal justice has increased by 46 percent overall and by an average of nine percent each year.

Police services represent the largest component of the criminal justice system, accounting for approximately 71 percent of total expenditure. Corrective services account for a further 23 percent, while criminal courts administration accounts for the remaining six percent (see Figure 113).

Source: Reference 20

Figure 113 Composition of government expenditure on criminal justice, 2010–11 (%)

Composition of government expenditure on criminal justice, 2010–11 (%)

Note: total=$13,148,094

Source: Reference 21

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 2010–11 was approximately $9.1b. This amounts to $404 per person in Australia, or $524 per adult. Salaries accounted for 70 percent (ie $7b) of this expenditure.

Real total recurrent expenditure (less revenue from own sources and payroll tax) in 2010–11 was $8.8b, or $392 per person or $507 per adult.

Table 11 Expenditure on state and territory police services, 2010–11
Expenditure (including salaries) $‘000
Total recurrent expenditure 9,152.2
Total capital expenditure 829.9
Staff salaries
Average police staff salaries 119,011.15
Average police non-staff salaries 73,692.74

Source: Reference 21

Figure 114 Recurrent expenditure on police services per head of adult population in each state or territory, 2010–11 ($)

Recurrent expenditure on police services per head of adult population in each state or territory, 2010–11 ($)

  • Across Australia, $524 per adult was spent on police services in 2010–11.
  • Victoria spent $443 per adult on police services in 2010–11; less than any other state or territory. Conversely, the Northern Territory spent the most ($1,657 per adult).

Source: References 2 and 21

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 2011, the total police services’ staffing in Australia (excluding the AFP) was 64,460. This averages 285 per 100,000 persons (226 sworn police officers and 59 civilian employees).
  • The Australian police services/forces comprised 51,045 sworn police officers and 13,415 civilian employees in 2011.

Source: References 2 and 21

Table 12: Composition of state and territory police services by jurisdictiona, 2010–11 (n)
Jurisdiction Sworn police officers Civilian staff Total Police officers by 1,000km2
NSW 15,597 3,472 19,069 19
Vic 11,897 2,741 14,638 52
Qld 10,385 3,550 13,935 6
WA 4,389 1,027 5,416 2
SA 5,662 1,725 7,387 6
Tas 1,233 345 1,578 18
ACT 768 223 991 327
NT 1,114 332 1,446 1
Australia 51,045 13,415 64,460 7

a: Excludes AFP for non-ACT policing

  • In 2010–11, the NSW Police Force comprised 19,069 sworn police officers and civilian staff. This was the largest police service of any state or territory. However, it equated to only 19 police officers per 1,000km2.
  • By comparison, while the Australian Capital Territory had the smallest police service, it had approximately 327 police officers per 1,000km2.
  • Twenty-five percent of the Queensland Police Service was civilian staff—the highest proportion of any police service in Australia.

Source: Reference 21

Figure 115 Sworn police officers by jurisdiction, at 30 June 2010 and 30 June 2011 (per 100,000 persons in that jurisdiction)

Sworn police officers by jurisdiction, at 30 June 2010 and 30 June 2011 (per 100,000 persons in that jurisdiction)

  • Compared with 30 June 2010, the proportion of sworn police officers had increased most noticeably in South Australia, rising from 238 to 265 per 100,000 population in 2011.
  • The only jurisdiction where the rate of sworn police officers decreased in 2011 was Western Australia. In 2010, there were 266 sworn police officers per 100,000 people compared with 241 per 100,000 in 2011. This equates to a decrease of nine percent.
  • The proportion of sworn police officers per 100,000 population increased by four percent in both Victoria and the Northern Territory. In 2011, there were 212 sworn police officers per 100,000 population in Victoria compared with 484 per 100,000 in the Northern Territory.

Source: References 2 and 21

Figure 116 Composition of sworn and unsworn police staff by sex and jurisdiction, 2010–11 (%)

Composition of sworn and unsworn police staff by sex and jurisdiction, 2010–11 (%)

  • The ratio of male to female police staff in Australia in 2010–11 was approximately 2:1.
  • The Northern Territory had the highest proportion of female (37%) compared with male police staff (63%) of any state or territory. Conversely, Western Australia Police had the highest percentage of male police staff (71%).

Source: Reference 21

Court administration

Total recurrent expenditure on court administration services around Australia (excluding the High Court and specialist jurisdiction courts) was $1.3b in 2010–11; approximately $234m less than in 2009–10. Expenditure on criminal courts’ administration was about $745m for 2010–11, an increase from $704m in the previous year.

Total criminal court expenditure less income (excluding fines) was $714m. This amounts to $32 per person in Australia, or $41 per adult.

Source: Reference 21

Figure 117 Total expenditure (less income) on criminal courts in 2010–11 (%)

Total expenditure (less income) on criminal courts in 2010–11 (%)

Note: Total=$714,368,233

  • Half of the total expenditure on criminal courts was spent on the Magistrate’s Court in 2010–11. This equates to $354m.
  • The Supreme courts accounted for 13 percent of the total expenditure ($92m), while the children’s courts cost $37m in 2010–11.

Source: Reference 21

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, 2010–11 ($)

Average expenditure per criminal case lodgement by court, 2010–11 ($)

  • In 2010–11, there were a total of 705,134 lodgements in the Magistrates’ Court. On average, $501 was spent per lodgement.
  • While there were only 5,340 lodgements in Supreme courts, each cost an average of $17,349.

Source: Reference 21

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 $3.6b in 2010–11; $3b (85%) for prisons, $442m (12%) for community corrections, and $84m (3%) for transport and escort services. This corresponds to $158 for every person in Australia, or $204 for every adult.

Source: References 2 and 21

Figure 119 Real recurrent expenditure on corrective services per head of adult population, 2009–10 to 2010–11 ($)

Real recurrent expenditure on corrective services per head of adult population, 2009–10 to 2010–11 ($)

  • Overall, spending on corrective services per head of the adult population increased in 2010–11 compared with the previous 12 months. Specifically, in Australia in 2010–11, $200 was spent per head of the adult population on corrective services compared with $194 in 2009–10.
  • Spending decreased in two of the eight states and territories. New South Wales spent two percent less on corrective services in 2010–11 ($210 down from $215 in 2009–10), while the Australian Capital Territory decreased spending by five percent ($191 down from $201).
  • The most significant spending increase in 2010–11 was in the Northern Territory, which increased by 17 percent from $578 per adult head in 2009–10 to $675.

Source: References 2 and 21

Figure 120 Corrective services expenditure per offender per day by jurisdiction, 2010–11 ($)

Corrective services expenditure per offender per day by jurisdiction, 2010–11 ($)

  • In Australia, in 2010–11, for every $1 spent on community corrections per offender per day, approximately $11 was spent on offenders in prisons. Over the year, approximately $78,840 was spent per prisoner in Australia compared with $7,300 per person in community corrections.
  • Community corrections cost an average of $10 per offender per day in Tasmania. This cost increased to $41 per offender per day in Western Australia.
  • The cost per prisoner per day in prison was highest in the Australian Capital Territory at $335. Similarly, it cost $323 per offender per day to keep an offender in prison in Tasmania.

Source: Reference 21