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Australian crime : facts and figures 2001

Justice expenditure

According to the Report on Government Services 2001, the total government expenditure on justice in 1999-2000 was over $6.4 billion. Since 1994-95, government expenditure on justice has increased at a real average annual growth rate of 8.4%.

Police services represented the largest component of the justice system, accounting for approximately 65% of the total justice-related expenditure covered by the report. Corrective services accounted for a further 21% and court administration accounted for the remaining 14% (Figure 89).

Figure 89 : Composition of government expenditure on justice, 1999-2000

Figure 89

Source: Reference 7.


Policing activities are predominantly the responsibility of the police agencies of State and Territory governments, with the Australian Federal Police 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 being provided by the Commonwealth.

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


The total recurrent expenditure on police services across Australia was $4.4 billion. This amounts to $228 for every person in Australia, and $297 per adult. Recurrent expenditure on staff salaries accounted for 77% of this total expenditure.

Table 6 : Expenditure on Australian police services, 1999-2000
Total recurrent expenditure4 362 496
Total capital expenditure306 747
Total expenditure4 669 243
Staff salaries($'000)
Average police staff salaries70 851
Average non-police staff salaries40 158

Source: Reference 7.

Figure 90 : Recurrent expenditure on police services per head of adult population, 1999-2000

Figure 90
  • Recurrent expenditure on police services per head of adult population in 1999-2000 ranged from $279 in the ACT to $719 in the Northern Territory.

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 on 30 June 2000 was 55 607, an increase of 1% on the number recorded in 1999. This averages out at 290 per 100 000 persons (228 sworn police officers and 62 civilian employees).
  • There were 43 722 sworn police officers and 11 885 civilian employees making up Australian police services in 2000.
Table 7 : Composition of police services by jurisdiction, 30 June 2000
JurisdictionSworn police officersCivilianTotalSworn officers per 1,000 km 2
NSW13 4833 82017 30317
Vic.9 9551 75111 70644
Qld7 7002 90710 6074
WA4 8691 3406 2092
SA3 6968234 5194
Tas.1 1093741 48316
NT9342081 1421
Australia *43 72211 88555 6076
* Includes Australian Federal Police.
  • New South Wales had the largest police service across Australia, while the ACT had the smallest.
  • Queensland employed the highest proportion of civilian staff (27%), and the ACT employed the lowest (13%).
  • Since June 1995 there has been a 3% increase in the number of sworn police officers and a 21% increase in the number of civilian employees in the police services of Australia.

Source: References 7, 14 and 15.

Figure 91 : Sworn police officers per 100 000 persons by jurisdiction, 30 June 1999 and 30 June 2000

Figure 91
  • Generally there is little difference across jurisdictions in the number of sworn police officers per 100 000 population, with the exception of the Northern Territory which is well above the national average.
  • The number of sworn police officers remained relatively constant in all States and Territories in Australia between 30 June 1999 and 30 June 2000, with the exception of the ACT. In this case, the number of sworn officers per 100 000 population declined by 14%.
  • The Northern Territory had the largest number of police officers per 100 000 population (478), while the ACT had the smallest (188). However, the ACT had 248 police officers per 1 000km2, while the Northern Territory had only one (Table 7).

Source: References 4 and 15.

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 approximately $850 million in 1999-2000, an annual increase of 5% (in real terms) since 1997-1998.
  • Expenditure for criminal court administration was about $378 million for 1999-2000.

Figure 92 : Total expenditure (less in-house revenue) for criminal courts, 1999-2000

Figure 92
  • The Magistrates' Courts incurred 59% of total criminal court expenditure in 1999-2000, compared to 63% in 1998-1999.

Figure 93 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 93 : Average expenditure per criminal case lodgment, 1998-1999 and 1999-2000

Figure 93
  • Relative to 1998-1999, in 1999-2000 average expenditure per criminal case lodgment increased from $128 to $138 in the Magistrates' Courts, $3 262 to $3 860 in the Intermediate Courts, and $9 438 to $9 869 in the Supreme Courts.

Source: Reference 7.

Adult 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 $1 345 million in 1999-2000; $1 174 million (87%) for prisons, $137 million (10%) for community corrections and $35 million (3%) for transport and escort services. This corresponds to an average of $92 for every adult in Australia.

Figure 94 : Recurrent expenditure on corrective services per head of adult population, 1999-2000

Figure 94
  • Recurrent expenditure on corrective services per head of adult population in 1999-2000 ranged from $55 in Victoria to $248 in the Northern Territory.

Figure 95 : Corrective services expenditure per prisoner/offender per day, 1999-2000

Figure 95
  • Expenditure per prisoner per day was $131 in 1999-2000, ranging from $100 in Queensland to $190 in the ACT.
  • Expenditure per offender sentenced to community correction programs per day was only $6 in 1999-2000.
  • Prison expenditure was 22 times higher compared to community corrections.
  • Overall in 1999-2000 approximately $47 888 was spent on each prisoner and $2 190 on each offender sentenced to community correction programs.

Source: References 4 and 7.

Last updated
3 November 2017