Objective: To estimate the annual number of inmate separations from correctional centres in Australia in 2000/01 and 2005/06.
Methods: Data on separations were obtained from the websites of each State and Territory government department responsible for prisons. Data on state and national prison population were obtained from the website of the Australian Bureau of Statistics. Three different methods of estimation (multiplier, multiplier adjusted for remand separations and back-projection) were applied to State, Territory and national data on prison population and separations in Australia.
Results: The median estimate (to the nearest thousand) of the number of inmate separations was 42,000 in 2000/01 and 44,000 in 2005/06
Conclusions: While the precise figures ought to be interpreted with some caution, our estimates suggest that approximately 44,500 separations from prison occurred in Australia in 2005/06. Each of these separation episodes is accompanied by an elevated risk of mortality; therefore, these figures represent a substantial public health concern.