4500.0 - Crime and Justice News, Oct 2003  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 28/10/2003   
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Copies of all publications can be ordered by contacting the ABS National Information and Referral Service on 1300 135 070.

Recorded Crime - Victims, Australia (4510.0)

On 29 May 2003, the ABS released Recorded Crime - Victims, Australia 2002. This publication presents statistics on victims of a selected range of offences that were recorded by state and territory police in Australia during 2002. It includes information on the personal characteristics of victims, levels of victimisation and characteristics associated with the offence such as location, outcome of investigation, and weapon use.

The offence categories with the largest number of victims recorded by Australian police during 2002 were other theft (679,460), unlawful entry with intent (394,374) and assault (159,548).

One notable feature was that the number of victims decreased between 2001 and 2002 across most offence categories. This was particularly the case for offences involving the taking of property. Victims of robbery decreased by 21% - with armed robbery reducing by 30%, motor vehicle theft by 19%, unlawful entry with intent by 9% and other theft decreasing by 3%. Other offence categories to record a decrease included homicide and related offences (9%), kidnapping/abduction (9%) and blackmail/extortion (3%).

VICTIMS(a), Change in number from 2001 to 2002
graph - VICTIMS(a), Change in number from 2001 to 2002
(a) The definition of a victim varies according to the category of the offence.

The largest numerical decreases across offence categories between 2001 and 2002 were for victims of unlawful entry with intent (down 41,380), motor vehicle theft (26,505) and other theft (20,677).

In 2002, the victimisation rate for unlawful entry with intent (2001 per 100,000 population) and motor vehicle theft (575 per 100,000 population) were the lowest since the commencement of the national Recorded Crime collection in 1993, while the robbery victimisation rate (106 per 100,000 population) was the lowest since 1995.

The offence categories for which there were increases between 2001 and 2002 in numbers of incidents recorded included sexual assault (6%) and assault (5%). Manslaughter (29%) and murder (2%) also increased; but a 21% decrease in the number of victims of driving causing death and a 14% decrease in attempted murders resulted in an overall decrease in victims for the homicide and related offences category.

The assault victimisation rate increased by 44% from 563 to 810 per 100,000 population between 1995 and 2002. Assault was the only offence category to show a consistently increasing trend in the rate of victimisation over this period. The sexual assault victimisation rate increased from 69 to 91 per 100,000 population between 1993 and 2002. In contrast, murder, attempted murder and manslaughter victimisation rates remained fairly stable over this period.

Males were more likely than females to be victims, for which a report to police was recorded, of robbery (70% of victims were male), blackmail/extortion (69%), attempted murder (66%), driving causing death (62%), murder (60%) and assault (57%). Females were more likely to be the victims of sexual assault (80%) and kidnapping/abduction (62%).

Corrective Services, Australia (4512.0)

The June quarter 2003 issue of Corrective Services, Australia was released on 25 September 2003. This publication presents time series information on persons in custody and community-based corrections. Details are provided by state/territory on prisoner counts and rates of imprisonment by type of custody, legal status, sentence type and Indigenous status. Information is also presented on the number of sentenced receptions into custody and the number of federal prisoners.

Criminal Courts, Australia (4513.0)

On 9 April 2003, the ABS released Criminal Courts, Australia 2001-02 (formerly Higher Criminal Courts, Australia), 8 weeks earlier than last year’s release. The publication provides a picture of the characteristics of defendants dealt with by the Higher Criminal Courts, including information on the offences and sentence types associated with those defendants.

The key findings for defendants finalised in the Higher Criminal Courts during 2001-02 were:
  • the number of finalisations decreased by less than 1% between 2000-01 and 2001-02 to 17,997 defendants
  • approximately 85% (15,229) of defendants were finalised by adjudication (i.e. proven guilty or acquitted)
  • males represented 88% of all defendants finalised by adjudication
  • nearly one in two defendants finalised by adjudication were males aged between 20 and 34 years
  • males were more likely than females to have a principal offence related to sexual assault (12% versus 1% respectively) while offences related to deception were the principal offence of 17% of females and 6% of males
  • for all adjudicated defendants, 92% were proven guilty and the remaining 8% were acquitted
  • for defendants proven guilty, one in two (54%) received a custodial order to be served in a correctional facility.

Graph: Adjudicated Defendants, by selected principal offence

Crime and Safety, Australia (4509.0)

On 20 June 2003, the ABS released Crime and Safety Australia. This publication presents findings from a household survey that collected data on the nature and extent of crime in the community. It includes information from individuals and households about their experience of selected crimes as well as details regarding their most recent experience of crime.

There were 7,479,200 households in Australia in April 2002. In the 12 months prior to the survey it is estimated that:
  • 354,000 (4.7%) households were victims of at least one break-in to their home, garage or shed
  • 254,600 (3.4%) households found signs of at least one attempted break-in
  • 553,500 (7.4%) households were victims of either a break-in or an attempted break-in
  • 134,300 (1.8%) households had at least one motor vehicle stolen.

There were 15,215,100 persons aged 15 years and over in Australia in April 2002. In the 12 months prior to the survey it is estimated that:
  • 95,800 (0.6%) persons were victims of at least one robbery
  • 717,900 (4.7%) persons were victims of at least one assault
  • 33,000 (0.2%) persons aged 18 years and over were victims of at least one sexual assault.

Graph - crime victimisation rates

Many factors influence whether or not an incident is considered by the victim to be a crime, and whether or not it is reported to police. The survey indicates that rates of reporting to police vary depending on the type of offence and the victim’s view of the incident. Reporting rates for some offence types were:
  • 95% for household victims of motor vehicle theft
  • 75% for household victims of break-in
  • 50% for victims of robbery
  • 31% for victims of assault
  • 20% for female victims of sexual assault.