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NSW prison population falls amid COVID-19

The number of prisoners in NSW jails has dropped by almost 11 per cent during the COVID-19 pandemic as the number of people on remand plummets.

NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research data issued on Tuesday shows the number of people in the state’s jails dropped by 1508 to 12,649 between March 15 and May 10.

That constituted a 10.7 per cent drop in the overall NSW adult prison population.

BOCSAR chief executive Jackie Fitzgerald said the drop could be attributed to a reduction in the number of people on remand waiting for their court cases.

This was driven by fewer charges being laid by police amid the pandemic, a higher chance of accused people receiving bail and an increase in people being released from remand.

NSW courts also reduced hearings, reducing the number of sentences issued.

“The community lockdown saw falls in many crime categories which led to fewer charges,” Ms Fitzgerald said in a statement.

“In addition, operational changes within the justice system have had an impact, including the postponement of court cases, changes in bail decisions and the release of people on remand.”

The NSW youth detention population also fell by 27 per cent, or 73 detainees, from February to June 2020.

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