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1368.1 - New South Wales Regional Statistics, 2007  
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 18/12/2007   
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NSW BUREAU OF CRIME STATISTICS AND RESEARCH, RECORDED CRIME STATISTICS DATABASE

INTRODUCTION

1 The Recorded Crime Statistics Database of the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research (BOCSAR) comprises extracts from the NSW Police Computerised Operational Policing System (COPS). The primary purpose of the COPS database is to record all police activities by NSW Police. As a secondary purpose an extract of the data is used to produce crime statistics for NSW via BOCSAR and the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

2 NSW Police do not have mandatory reporting requirements outside the Annual Reports (Departments) Act 1985. BOCSAR are not subject to any legislative reporting requirements but report crime statistics in accordance with their charter. A copy of their charter can be seen on the BOCSAR web site (see paragraph 38). An extract of the administrative by-product is used by BOCSAR to produce regular reports and ad-hoc analysis of crime rates and trend statistics.

3 Recorded crime statistics represent criminal incidents reported to police and recorded on the COPS database. The counting units are recorded criminal incidents, (except for murder and manslaughter where the counting units are victims), rather than recorded offences. COPS data are categorised by date of reporting to police (or date of detection by police) rather than by date of occurrence of the incident. Information recorded in the COPS database relates to unique occurrences attended by police or reported to police (referred to as COPS events). Within each unique occurrence, linked information on incident type, persons of interest and victims is also recorded. Note that more that one incident can be included in a single COPS event. Similarly more than one offence can be included in a single incident.

4 In this product, selected data on occurrences are presented:

  • number of criminal incidents, by offence category;
  • number of apprehended violence orders (AVOs) granted.

SCOPE

5 The COPS database used by NSW Police includes information on all reported criminal incidents, data on police actions, and other occurrences attended by, or reported to, police. The scope of the dataset is police activities, including:
  • all events attended;
  • all recorded victim records associated with reported and detected personal crime;
  • persons of interest involved in all reported and detected crime;
  • incidents of all reported and detected crime;
  • apprehended violence orders (AVOs) granted; and
  • other information used in policing.

6 Excluded from the scope of the COPS database are offences which do not involve NSW Police such as offences against Commonwealth laws processed under Commonwealth jurisdiction. That is, if there is no action by NSW Police, then there would be nothing recorded in COPS. However, if NSW Police were investigating an offence against Commonwealth laws then it would be included in COPS.

7 The scope of the extracts from the COPS database, in the BOCSAR Recorded Crime Statistics Database, includes verified records of criminal incidents, persons of interest and victims. A verified record is one which has been signed off by the recording officer's supervisor. The selected domestic violence characteristics extracted directly from the COPS database include only verified incidents.

8 In this product, the scope of the AVO data is for AVOs granted in NSW Local Courts for NSW residents only.

REFERENCE PERIOD

9 BOCSAR receives a two year extract of information from the NSW Police for each quarter. The data presented in this product are for 2006.

KEY DATA ITEMS

10 The following key data items are used in this product.

11 Apprehended violence order: AVOs are orders that a court makes to protect people. AVOs protect people by ordering a number of things that the defendant must not do. The defendant must obey the orders made by the Court. Depending on the relationship between the applicant and the defendant, AVOs can relate to either domestic violence or non-domestic related (personal) violence.

12 Criminal incident: A criminal incident is defined as an activity detected by or reported to police which:
  • involved the same offender(s);
  • involved the same victim(s);
  • occurred at (or in the case of fire, started at) the one location;
  • occurred during one uninterrupted period of time;
  • falls into one offence category; and
  • falls into one incident type (e.g. 'actual', 'attempted', 'conspiracy').

13 A criminal incident consists of one or more offences of the same type (and their related victims and offenders) which are grouped into the same unique occurrence if they are committed by the same person or group of persons and if:
  • they are part of actions committed simultaneously or in sequence over a short period of time at the same place;
  • they are part of interrelated actions; that is, where one action leads to the other or where one is the consequence of the other(s); and
  • they involve the same action(s) repeated over a long period of time against the same victim(s) and come to the attention of the police at one point in time.

14 One offender assaulting two victims would be counted as one criminal incident. Alternatively, two criminal incidents are recorded in the COPS database if there are two distinct offence types involved (e.g. demand money with menaces and assault) even if the same parties were involved at the same time and in the same place. A criminal incident can have more than one person of interest.

15 Domestic violence: Domestic violence occurs when one person uses some form of violence such as physical, emotional, sexual, financial or social to control another person in a current or previous relationship. Where assault or other offences occur in a COPS event, police officers are required to record if it is related to domestic violence. If no criminal offence is recorded, but domestic violence is indicated, a Domestic Violence - no offence COPS incident is recorded.

16 Offence category: Offence categories are derived from COPS incident types, a unique police classification which encompasses offences as well as other police activities. The COPS extract used by BOCSAR is based on a set of offence categories aligned to the 1995 Australian National Classification of Offences (ANCO), issued by the ABS (cat. no. 1234.0). In this product, the offences types and sub-categories reported are:

17 Assault:
  • domestic violence related
  • non-domestic violence related.

18 Sexual offences:
  • sexual assault.

19 Robbery:
  • robbery without a weapon
  • robbery with a firearm
  • robbery with a weapon not a firearm.

20 Theft:
  • break and enter - dwelling
  • break and enter - non-dwelling
  • motor vehicle theft
  • steal from motor vehicle.

21 Arson

22 Malicious damage to property

23 Illicit drug offences:
  • possession and/or use of drugs (includes the possession and/or use of cocaine, narcotics, cannabis, amphetamines, ecstasy and other drugs)
  • dealing/trafficking drugs (includes the possession and/or use of cocaine, narcotics, cannabis, amphetamines, ecstasy and other drugs).

24 Driving offences:
  • note that from 2003 onwards, the counting unit for driving offences, including driving causing death, is the number of legal actions commenced.

GEOGRAPHY

25 The COPS database has mandatory suburb and postcode fields in which geographical details are entered. In this product, data are concorded to Local Government Area (LGA) using a postcode to LGA concordance, which proportionately allocates population. The 2006 edition of the Australian Standard Geographical Classification (ASGC) (cat. no. 1216.0) was used in the coding.

COLLECTION METHODOLOGY

26 NSW Police Service compile the COPS database, entering details of all crimes that are either reported to them by a victim or witness, or which they have detected during the course of their duty. Records are verified by the recording officer's supervisor.

27 BOCSAR receives an extract of the COPS database which forms the basis of the BOCSAR Recorded Crime Statistics Database.

28 The BOCSAR Recorded Crime Statistics Database is edited to remove offences not included in their collection and to remove invalid postcodes.

29 Criminal incidents are included in the counting period in which they were reported to or detected by police. In most cases criminal incidents are recorded on the COPS database on the day of reporting. Because the reporting date and recording date may differ, it is possible for some updating of data to occur. That is, data extracted for a specified period of time (incidents reported in 2002 for example) may differ according to the date of extraction of the data. This updating is, however, minimal and is unlikely to affect trends in the data.

30 COPS data relate to the date the offence comes to the attention of the police, not the date on which the offence occurs. This is particularly relevant to offences such as homicide and sexual assault.

31 Recorded crime statistics for some offence categories do not accurately reflect the actual level of crime in the community. This is because the number of incidents recorded may be affected by extraneous factors which are not easily measured, in particular:
  • many crimes which occur are not reported to police and are therefore not recorded e.g. a large number of assaults, sexual assaults and robberies are not reported to police
  • recording of offences which are detected by, rather than reported to, police are strongly affected by policing practices e.g. drug offences, drink driving offences, offensive behaviour and receiving stolen goods. Therefore recorded figures for such offences do not accurately reflect actual numbers.

32 The data in COPS were collected using postcode geography and then concorded to Local Government Areas (LGAs). An assumption underlying the concordance is that the population in the dataset is distributed evenly throughout a postcode in the same way as the Census data used to derive the concordance. This may be imprecise when the concordance is applied to a sub-population; for example, younger or Indigenous persons.

33 As data in this collection are obtained from an administrative system, they are not subject to sampling variability. However, other inaccuracies collectively referred to as non-sampling error may affect the data. These non-sampling errors may arise from a number of sources, including:
  • errors in data reporting by respondents;
  • errors in capturing or processing data;
  • estimation for missing misreported data; and
  • definition and classification errors.

COMPARISON WITH OTHER DATA SOURCES

34 Data sourced directly from the COPS database will differ from data published by BOCSAR because COPS data includes both verified and non-verified records, whereas BOCSAR data exclude non-verified records.

COLLECTION HISTORY

35 COPS data are affected by legislative changes. This includes the creation of new offences as well as major initiatives such as mandatory reporting. The results of Ministerial and Ombudsman reviews of legislation can also affect the way offence and activity incidents are recorded and reported. These types of changes may have an impact on reported crime statistics over time.

36 BOCSAR has received COPS data since 1994.

PUBLISHED DATA

37 The major annual publication produced by BOCSAR is NSW Recorded Crime Statistics. Information about the COPS data used by BOCSAR is available in this publication. Information on Apprehended Violence Orders is published by BOCSAR in NSW Criminal Court Statistics.

RELATED WEB SITES

38 Further information can be found at the Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research web site: www.bocsar.nsw.gov.au.

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