NSW Police issued more than 36,000 COVID-19 public health orders breaches in July and August when the toughest lockdown rules were in place.
However, most people surveyed by the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research say they complied with tough stay-at-home orders during the height of the COVID-19 outbreak in the state.
BOCSAR examined COVID-19 breaches in July and August and compared data with self-reported rates of non-compliance from a survey.
The survey found self-reported rates of compliance were generally high across all areas of Greater Sydney.
Fewer than one in five respondents admitted to serious non-compliance, such as visiting family or friends or gathering in large groups.
Just over a third of breaches were for non-essential travel, 30 per cent were for failing to wear a mask and 14 per cent for visiting other households.
The majority, or 90 per cent, of breaches were dealt with by a $1000 fine.
Breaches mostly involved males (74 per cent), people aged 18 to 39 (61 per cent), and non-Aboriginal people (95 per cent). Half had a prior offence in the previous five years.
It also found 37 per cent of breaches were detected in local government areas of concern, mostly in Sydney's west and southwest.
BOCSAR Executive Director Jackie Fitzgerald said while most people adhered strictly to the public health orders a subset of the population was less inclined to comply.
"Interestingly, the study suggests that compliance was greater in LGAs of concern possibly because the COVID-19 risk was higher or possibly due to more enforcement," Ms Fitzgerland said.
LGAs of concern accounted for 78 per cent of new COVID-19 infections recorded in NSW in July and August. Those areas comprise only 28 per cent of the NSW population.
Australian Associated Press