News State New South Wales Surge in NSW prison numbers

Surge in NSW prison numbers

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The NSW prison population is growing at such a rate the system may not be able to cope.

That’s according to a Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research report showing the adult population could grow by an extra 17 per cent by 2015 if growth continues at current rates.

The state’s prison population reached a record 10,741 in March this year, up 13 per cent from September 2012.

The report says this is partly due to an increase in arrests, despite stable or decreasing rates among most crime categories.

People convicted of crimes are also more likely to serve prison sentences, raising questions about how the system deals with offenders.

NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics director Dr Don Weatherburn says the figures should prompt the government to consider justice measures other than imprisonment for less-serious offences.

“If the prison population continues its current rate of increase, it’s doubtful authorities will be able to build prisons fast enough to cope with it,” he told AAP.

Indigenous Australians continue to be over-represented in prison, the report shows.

The number of indigenous prisoners grew by 18 per cent from September 2012 compared with 10 per cent for the rest of the population.

But the number of juvenile indigenous prisoners decreased by 4.4 per cent over the year until March 2014.

That’s in contrast with the population of non-indigenous juveniles, which grew by 15.9 per cent over the same period.