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First Peoples

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Briefing paper

Understanding the decline in Aboriginal young people in custody in NSW from 2015 to 2019

First Peoples incarceration Prisoners First Nations youth Sentencing New South Wales

Young Aboriginal people are significantly overrepresented in custody across Australia. However, in recent years, there has been a steady decline in the number of Aboriginal young people in custody in NSW. This contrasts with an upward trend in the adult Aboriginal prison population which increased by 19 per cent from December 2015 to December 2019.

Young people in custody data were obtained from Youth Justice for the five-year period between 2015 and 2019, including data on receptions into and discharges from custody.

Key Findings/Recommendations:

  • Various factors related to the recent downward trend in the youth Aboriginal custody population included the number of young people proceeded against by the police, the seriousness of young people’s offending; and the rate at which young people are refused bail by police and courts.
  • While police are detecting more bail breaches among young people, the proportion of these breaches resulting in bail revocation has fallen. This is particularly true for Aboriginal young people, for whom there has been a drop in both the number and proportion of bail revocations over the period 2015 to 2019.
  • Essentially, the recent drop in the number of young Aboriginal people in custody appears to be due to both a decline in the number of Aboriginal young people appearing in court and fewer control orders being imposed.
Publication Details
Access Rights Type:
Crime & Justice Statistics Bureau Brief 153