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Criminal justice resources

Justice expenditure

According to the Report on Government Services 1999, the total government expenditure on justice in 1997-98 was approximately $5.6 billion.

The largest component of the justice system was police services, which accounted for approximately 67% of the total justice-related expenditure covered by the report. Corrective services accounted for a further 19%, and court administration accounted for the remaining 14% (seeFigure 47).

Figure 47 : Composition of government expenditure on justice, 1997-98

Figure 47


Policing activities are predominantly the responsibility of the police agencies of State and Territory Governments, with the Australian Federal Police also providing a community policing service in the ACT on behalf of the ACT Government. Funding for these services comes almost exclusively from State and Territory government budgets, with some specific purpose grants being provided by the Commonwealth.

The Commonwealth Government operates the Australian Federal Police. The figures discussed below exclude resource data for the AFP.


Information on expenditure for Australian police services in 1997-98 is presented in Table 7. The total recurrent expenditure on police services across Australia was $3.8 billion. This amounts to $202 for every person in Australia. Recurrent expenditure on staff salaries accounted for 80% of this total expenditure.

Table 7 : Expenditure on Australian police services, 1997-98
Total recurrent expenditure3 747 920
Total capital expenditure201 915
Total expenditure3 949 835
Staff Salaries($)
Average police staff salaries59 129
Average non-police staff salaries38 015

Source: Reference 7


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

In recent years there has been a trend towards 'civilianisation' of police services, with some non-core activities undertaken by non-sworn officers or contracted to external providers.

  • The total police services staffing in Australia in 1998 was 53 247. This averages out at 284 per 100 000 persons (222 sworn police officers and 62 were civilian employees).
  • There were 41 620 sworn police officers and 11 627 civilian employees making up Australian police services in 1998.

Data for the various categories of police staff in each jurisdiction in 1998 are given in Table 8.

Table 8 : Composition of police services, by jurisdiction, as at 30 June 1998
JurisdictionSworn police officersCivilianTotal
NSW13 4143 83117 245
Vic.10 0331 87911 912
Qld7 1782 5769 754
WA4 8301 8786 708
SA3 5747754 349
Tas.1 0973951 492
NT8822341 116
Aust.41 62011 62753 247
  • New South Wales had the largest police service across Australia, while the Australian Capital Territory had the smallest.
  • Western Australia employed the highest proportion of civilian staff (28%), and the Australian Capital Territory employed the lowest (9%).
  • Since June 1995 there has been a 4% increase in the number of sworn police officers and a 26% increase in the number of civilian employees in the police services of Australia.

Sources: References 7, 12 and 13

Figure 48 shows the number of sworn police officers per 100 000 population for each jurisdiction for 30 June 1998.

Figure 48 : Sworn police officers per 100 000 population, by jurisdiction, as at 30 June 1998

Figure 48

  • Generally there is not much difference across jurisdictions in the number of sworn police officers per 100 000 population, with the exception of the Northern Territory and Western Australia, which are above the national average.
  • The Northern Territory had the largest number of police officers per 100 000 population (464.2), while South Australia had the smallest (195.2).
  • When using police strength data, the area that police have to cover is also important. Victoria has a relatively small area, whereas the area of the Northern Territory is very large.
  • Victoria has 44 police officers per 1000km2, while the Northern Territory has only one.

Sources: References 3, 12 and 13

Court administration

Court administration agencies throughout Australia provide a range of services integral to the effective performance of the judicial system. These agencies work with the judiciary and the community to provide a court system that allows the prompt resolution of disputes and appropriate access to justice for the community.

  • The total recurrent expenditure by State, Territory and Commonwealth court authorities was a little over $714 million in 1997-98, an increase of 4% since 1994-95.
  • Expenditure for criminal court administration was $355 656 000 for 1997-98.

Figure 49 shows the division of expenditure between the three levels of criminal courts in 1997-98.

Figure 49 : Total expenditure (less in-house revenue) for criminal courts, 1997-98

Figure 49

  • The magistrates' courts incurred 63% of total criminal court expenditure, followed by the intermediate courts (25%) and then the supreme courts (12%).

Figure 50 shows the average expenditure per case lodgment in the criminal courts. The higher the level of court, the more expensive each criminal case lodgment becomes. This is because the more complex and lengthy cases are tried in the higher courts.

Figure 50 : Average expenditure per criminal case lodgment, 1997-98

Figure 50

  • Average expenditure per criminal case lodgment ranged from $127 in the magistrates' courts to $8 224 in the supreme courts.

Source: Reference 7

Corrective services

Resources allocated for corrective services in Australia are divided into two broad categories: prisons and community corrections.

Total recurrent expenditure on corrective services in Australia was approximately $1 065 million in 1997-98; $955 million (90%) for prisons and $110 million (10%) for community corrections. This corresponds to a figure of about $76 for every adult in Australia.

Figure 51 shows recurrent expenditure on corrective services per head of adult population (17+) for each jurisdiction in 1997-98.

Figure 51 : Recurrent expenditure on corrective services per head of adult population, 1997-98

Figure 51

  • Recurrent expenditure on corrective services per head of adult population in 1997-98 ranged from $43.95 in Victoria to $307.41 in the Northern Territory.

Figure 52 shows the average expenditure per day for each offender by Australian corrective services in 1997-98.

Figure 52 : Corrective services expenditure per offender per day, 1997-98

Figure 52

  • Expenditure per prisoner per day was $142.60 in 1997-98. This figure was 25 times more than that spent on offenders in community correction programs each day.
  • Expenditure per offender sentenced to community correction programs per day was only $5.61.
  • Overall in 1997-98 approximately $52 000 was spent on each prisoner and $2 050 on each offender sentenced to community correction programs.

Source: Reference 7

Last updated
3 November 2017