National Deaths in Custody Program

National Deaths in Custody Program

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Deaths in Custody in Australia

There were 91 deaths in custody in 2016–17.

Prison custody: 74
74 deaths occurred in prison custody
Police custody: 17
17 deaths occurred in police custody

Profile of prison and police custody deaths

The majority of individuals who died in prison and police custody in 2016–17 were male, over 35 years of age and non-Indigenous.

Prison custody

92% Male
82% 35+
78% Non-Indigenous
MALE
35+
NON-INDIGENOUS

Police custody

94% Male
71% 35+
60% Non-Indigenous

Prison death rates by Indigenous status

The death rate for Indigenous prisoners was lower than the death rate for non-Indigenous prisoners in 2016–17. The death rate has been lower for Indigenous prisoners since 2003–04.

2015-16 2016-17
Indigenous

0.18

0.14

per 100 prisoners per 100 prisoners
Non-Indigenous

0.23

0.19

per 100 prisoners per 100 prisoners

Type of police custody deaths

In 2016–17, 76% of deaths occurred while police were attempting to detain an individual and 24% took place in institutional settings (eg police cell).

Attempting  to detain an individual, 76%
76% Attempting
to detain an
individual
Institutional settings, 24%
24% Institutional settings

Cause of police custody deaths

Almost one in three police custody deaths in 2016–17 resulted from a gunshot wound (29%). One was self-inflicted and four were police shootings.

Decorative icon: person

1 Self-inflicted

Decorative icon: police vest

4 Police shootings

1 in 3

from a gunshot wound


Four police custody deaths in 2016–17 resulted from a motor vehicle pursuit (MVP). The number of MVP deaths remains at record lows, compared with the peak number recorded in 2001–02 (n=18).

icon representing a person
icon representing a person
icon representing a person
icon representing a person

Cause of prison deaths

Almost seven in ten prison deaths where the cause of death was known resulted from natural causes in 2016–17, four in ten of these from cancer.

7/10Natural causes

4/10Cancer


Natural causes Hanging External trauma Alcohol/ drugs Other/ multiple
decorative icon: sentenced

Sentenced

78% 12% 4% 4% 2%
decorative icon: unsentenced

Unsentenced

39% 44% 17% 0% 0%

Appendix

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