The National Deaths in Custody Program report: Deaths in custody in Australia 2013–14 and 2014–15, released today, is available on the Crime Statistics Australia website—the interactive gateway to statistics and information on Australian crime and justice issues.
With a range of infographics and graphs detailing the latest findings, the data is accessible for government and law enforcement agencies to inform policies that protect Australians within our justice system.
The National Deaths in Custody Program collects information on deaths that occurred in prison, in police custody and in custody-related operations throughout Australia.
Since 1979–80, a total of 2,608 deaths in custody have occurred in Australia, with 1,600 deaths occurring in prison and 985 deaths occurring in police custody and custody-related operations.
There have been 18 deaths in youth detention or welfare facilities and five deaths in other criminal justice settings.
Of the 2,608 people who have died in custody since 1979–80, 500 were Indigenous and 2,104 were of non-Indigenous background.
Between 1 July 2013 and 30 June 2015, 115 deaths occurred in prison custody, with 54 deaths in 2013–14 and 61 deaths in 2014–15.
In 2014–15, 60 males and one female died in prison custody, with male prisoner deaths generally outnumbering female prisoner deaths at a ratio of 23:1 since the program commenced in 1979–80.
The median age of prisoners who died in prison custody during 2013–14 and 2014–15 was 54 years, with the median age at death lower for Indigenous prisoners (49 years) than for non-Indigenous prisoners (56 years).
Of the 112 deaths where the cause of death was known, natural causes accounted for 72 percent in 2013–14 and 71 percent in 2014–15, including heart disease or related cardiac ailments and cancer.
During 2013–14 and 2014–15 deaths in prison custody most commonly occurred in prison cells, with a quarter of deaths occurring in prison hospitals and another quarter in public hospitals.
Of the 34 deaths in police custody and custody-related operations, half were caused by gunshot wounds and a fifth during motor vehicle pursuits. Eighty eight percent who died were male.
Information collected through the National Deaths in Custody Program including on cause of death, manner of death, the number of Indigenous persons who die in custody and the age and gender of deceased persons is vital to monitoring trends in deaths in custody, and will be used to inform policy and develop initiatives to reduce the number of deaths that occur in police and prison custody.
For more information visit Crime Statistics Australia.