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NSW BUREAU OF CRIME STATISTICS AND RESEARCH, RECORDED CRIME STATISTICS DATABASE
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:
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.
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:
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:
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:
18 Sexual offences:
22 Malicious damage to property
23 Illicit drug offences:
24 Driving offences:
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.
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:
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:
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.
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.
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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