Population, crime and courts: demographic projections of the future workload of the New South Wales Magistracy

Brian Opeskin, Nick Parr

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The New South Wales Local Court is the largest court in Australia. This study seeks to facilitate future planning for the court by making demographic projections of the criminal workload of the court over the next 25 years (criminal matters account for 95% of its new lodgments). The study applies criminal conviction rates by age, sex and locality to population projections for the State to produce projections of the number of criminal convictions for the State and its geospatial subdivisions. These statistics are used to derive the demand for magistrates and a comparison is then made of the supply of magistrates under different scenarios. The principal finding is that, due to demographic change alone, the number of criminal convictions is projected to increase by 16% by 2036, with nearly all the increase occurring in Sydney, especially in the city's west and south-west. On the assumption of constant criminal conviction rates and constant judicial productivity, the demand for magistrates is also projected to rise by 16%, to 158 magistrates by 2036. If recruitment of magistrates were to take place only to maintain current staffing levels, there would be a shortfall of 22 magistrates over the projection period. Thus, if the Local Court is to have sufficient judicial resources to meet the projected demand for its services, government will need to be attentive to the potential for a growing gap between demand and supply in the years ahead.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)233-252
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Judicial Administration
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2014


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