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4510.0 - Recorded Crime - Victims, Australia, 2004  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 23/06/2005   
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INTRODUCTION

1 This publication presents national crime statistics relating to victims of a selected range of offences that have been recorded by police. These offences may have been reported by a victim, witness or other person, or they may have been detected by police. The statistics do not provide a total picture of crime, as not all crime comes to the attention of the police, nor are all incidents reported to police recorded as crimes.

2 In order to gain a more comprehensive picture of the nature and extent of crime, these statistics should be complemented with information from other sources such as crime victim surveys (see Related Publications paragraph 74 and Measuring Crime Victimisation section). Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) household-based crime and safety surveys estimate the experience of selected crimes (regardless of whether they had been reported to police), the extent to which incidents of crime were subsequently reported to police and perceptions of neighbourhood problems and feelings of safety.

3 Care should be taken in interpreting police statistics as fluctuations in recorded crime may be a reflection of changes in legislation, changes in community attitudes in reporting crime, changes in police procedures or changes in crime reporting systems, rather than a change in the incidence of criminal behaviour. Some of these factors have led to discontinuities in some time series.

4 The aim of national recorded crime statistics is to provide one view of crime in Australia, as well as comparable data across states and territories. These statistics are indicators of the level and nature of recorded crime in Australia and provide a basis for measuring changes over time.

5 In order to ensure comparability between jurisdictions, the statistics have been compiled according to national standards. These standards have been developed by the ABS in collaboration with each police force, an Advisory Group of expert users and a Board of Management comprising Police Commissioners and senior officers representing Commonwealth and State Government Departments and the Australian Statistician.

6 The national offence definitions (see Glossary) and counting methodology (see paragraphs 34 to 43) vary from those used in each jurisdiction. Hence, the statistics presented in this publication may be different from those published by police forces in individual states and territories. National crime statistics are compiled on a victim basis in that they count the number of victims for each national offence category, rather than the number of breaches of the criminal law.


DATA SOURCE

7 Data on victims are derived from the information on individual offences recorded on official crime reports prepared by police. These data are provided to the ABS in aggregate form by the reporting authorities in each jurisdiction.


REPORTING AUTHORITIES

8 The reporting authorities are the police forces of the states and territories of Australia. They are responsible for recording information about offences that have been reported to police and collating statistics in accordance with national requirements.

9 National requirements specify that offences should be counted in the state or territory in which the offence occurred, regardless of which law enforcement agency completes the crime report or undertakes the investigation. There is some indication that this may not always be the case, particularly for offences such as motor vehicle thefts which occur near state and territory borders. However, investigations suggest that the problem is small.


REFERENCE DATE

10 National crime statistics are compiled on the basis of the date an offence is reported. This corresponds to either the date the offence was reported to police by a member of the public or when it was detected by police. The report date may not necessarily be the date when the offence occurred. This is particularly the case for homicide and related offences, where in some instances the time difference between when the offence(s) occurred and the report/detection date may be substantial.

11 Statistics produced on the basis of date reported may be affected over time by lags in completing and/or processing some crime reports. Where offences reported in the reference year are not processed for inclusion in the national statistics until the following year, revised data are included in subsequent publications and noted accordingly (see paragraph 27).


REFERENCE PERIOD

12 National crime statistics are produced annually on a calendar year basis. The reference period for this publication relates to offences that have been reported between 1 January and 31 December 2004. Data compiled on a financial year basis are also available from the ABS (see paragraph 73).


CLASSIFICATIONS

13 The offence categories used for national crime statistics in this publication are based on the Australian Standard Offence Classification (ASOC) (cat. no. 1234.0). The ASOC was released in October 1997 following a complete review of the previous classification, the ABS Australian National Classification of Offences. The ASOC was implemented into the recorded crime statistics collection from 1 January 1999 and provides a uniform national statistical framework for classifying offences and overcomes jurisdictional differences in laws and offence classifications. The national offence definitions are descriptive and may not correspond with legal or police offence definitions in a particular jurisdiction. For further information on the mapping of national offence categories to the ASOC refer to the Appendix.


DIFFERENCES IN RECORDED CRIME STATISTICS

14 Recently the ABS National Crime Statistics Unit (NCSU) conducted the Differences in Recorded Crime Statistics (DiRCS) project to investigate reasons for differences in the levels of recorded crime for some offence types. This project investigated differences in crime recording systems and processes across states and territories, and was conducted under the guidance of a Steering Committee nominated by the NCSU Board of Management with the cooperation of all state and territory police forces.

15 A paper outlining the conduct and outcomes of the DiRCS project is available on the National Statistical Service web site - see Differences in Recorded Crime Statistics . The paper was prepared by the NCSU on behalf of the NCSU Board of Management.

16 The DiRCS project found evidence indicating that Recorded Crime Victim data for assault and sexual assault are not currently comparable across all states and territories, because of the different bases on which these offences are recorded. It was found (through Scenario Based Testing) for these offence types, that after incidents had been reported to police the initial investigative processes resulted in inconsistent recording.

17 Some jurisdictions almost always record a reported criminal incident on their crime recording system, whereas other jurisdictions apply a threshold test prior to a record being made (e.g. whether the victim wishes to proceed against the offender, or the seriousness of the incident). These thresholds vary across jurisdictions and are not currently guided by national standards. Evidence suggests that variation in the decision to record a crime is significant for assault (and by association, sexual assault), and in particular for domestic violence incidents. Variation in the recording of property related offences does not appear to be as significant, as the threshold for recording such offences is generally clear, i.e. the theft of or damage to property.

18 This has resulted in a significant difference in the measured levels of recorded crime across states and territories for these offence types, which is inconsistent with the state and territory patterns of victimisation measured in surveys (see Measuring Crime Victimisation section). Therefore, national and state/territory data for assault and sexual assault have been excluded from this publication and related outputs.

19 The NCSU Board of Management has accepted that the lack of a uniform standard in recording contributed to this inconsistency for these offence types and has endorsed a recommendation to develop a strategy for a National Crime Recording Standard to address this issue. This would include agreed purpose and principles, definitions and counting rules.

20 In considering other aspects of recorded crime statistics, the DiRCS project concluded that information for other offence types was satisfactory for the level of comparison presented in this publication. Where there are known specific issues for particular states and territories, these are described in paragraphs 44 to 72.

21 The project also concluded that once a crime had been recorded in a crime recording system there was no evidence to suggest that processes within any state or territory had a significant impact on differences in recorded crime statistics.


SCOPE OF OFFENCES IN THIS PUBLICATION

22 The national offence categories included in this report from the national crime statistics collection for 2004 include: homicide and related offences (which includes murder, attempted murder, manslaughter and driving causing death); kidnapping/abduction; robbery; blackmail/extortion; UEWI; motor vehicle theft; and other theft. The scope of offences included has been reduced from those published in previous years. Data on offences which were identified in the DiRCS project as not being comparable, i.e. assault and sexual assault, have not been published for the 2004 reference year.

23 With the exception of the motor vehicle theft offence category, statistics for the offence categories in the national crime statistics collection relate to completed offences and attempted offences, i.e. those where the intent is not fulfilled. Attempted motor vehicle thefts are excluded from the collection due to difficulties in distinguishing these offences from criminal damage.

24 Attempts to commit an offence are classified to the same ASOC subdivision/group as completed offences. The only exception is for murder where attempted murder is counted and published separately.

25 Offences may include those which at a later point in time are determined to be unfounded, i.e. false or baseless, or are withdrawn by the complainant. Data on the status of the recorded offences (outcome of investigation) are included in this publication.

26 The national crime statistics collection excludes:

  • Conspiracy offences: the local offence classifications used in jurisdictions do not generally enable the identification of the substantive offence category to which the conspiracy relates.
  • Threats to commit an offence: these differ from offences like robbery, kidnapping/abduction and blackmail/extortion wherein an element of threat is implicit in the nature of the crime.
  • Aid, abet and accessory offences: these offences relate to the role of offenders in connection with an offence and are not considered to be offences committed directly against a victim.
  • Offences against Commonwealth laws processed under Commonwealth jurisdiction.


REVISIONS

27 Data for 2003 presented in this publication have been revised by Victoria, Queensland, South Australia, Western Australia, Tasmania, Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory. Data errors, processing time frames, extraction revisions as well as other processing, editing and general update procedures are all possible causes of revision (see paragraphs 44 to 72).


RATES

28 For all the national offence categories, rates per 100,000 of the Estimated Resident Population (ERP) are presented in a number of tables (refer to Australian Demographic Statistics, June 2004 (cat. no. 3101.0)). As the population changes over time, the denominator used for the calculation of rates will vary, depending on the reference period. The ERP for the midpoint of each reference period is used to calculate the rates. Rates for the period 1 January to 31 December 2004 have been calculated on the basis of the preliminary June 2004 ERP estimates, while rates for the period 1 January to 31 December 2003 have been recalculated based on revised June 2003 ERP estimates.

29 Results of the 2001 Census of Population and Housing have been used to benchmark the ERP data for 2001-2004. ERP estimates for 1996-2000 have been benchmarked on the 1996 Census of Population and Housing and ERP estimates for 1995 on the 1991 Census of Population and Housing. It is not anticipated that the different benchmarks will have a noticeable impact on the victimisation rates at the national and state and territory levels.

30 Rates enable comparisons of national offence categories to be made across the states and territories. Rates expressed per 100,000 persons generally accord with international and state and territory practice.

31 The risk of victimisation varies depending on the age and sex of the victim. These statistics include details of the age and sex of the victim, and age and sex specific victimisation rates have been included in table 4. These are calculated using estimates of the age and sex breakdown of the population. For offence categories such as robbery and blackmail/extortion, where the victim may be a person or an organisation, victimisation rates have been provided for person victims only for the age and sex breakdown in table 4.


CONFIDENTIALITY

32 The data presented in this publication have been confidentialised to prevent identification of victims. Cells with very small values have been randomly adjusted. These adjustments do not impair the value of the tables as a whole.

33 Tables which have been randomly adjusted will be internally consistent, however comparisons with other tables containing similar data may show minor discrepancies. These small variances can, for the most part, be ignored.


COUNTING METHODOLOGY

34 Since the implementation of the ASOC beginning with Recorded Crime, Australia, 1999 (cat. no. 4510.0), data have been presented at the national offence category level (refer to Glossary), without further disaggregation to the ASOC Group level.

35 The statistics in the national crime statistics collection measure the number of victims per national offence category for offences recorded by police during the reference period. The national counting rule is that each victim within a distinct criminal incident is counted once to the most serious offence within each national offence category. The most serious offence within the national offence category is the one with the lowest ASOC code. For example, Murder (0111) is a more serious offence than Manslaughter (0131).

Counting within a national offence category

36 For criminal incidents involving homicide and related offences or kidnapping/abduction offences, one victim is counted within each national offence category. Where a victim is subjected to multiple offences of the same type within a distinct criminal incident, e.g. in the case of robbery this may be due to attacks by several offenders, the victim is counted only once.

37 For each criminal incident involving the national offence category of robbery, one victim is counted for each person/organisation victimised. For example, if a bank with several customers present is robbed, this is counted as one robbery with the victim being the bank. If personal property is also taken from two customers there are three victims, the bank and the two customers, hence the number of robberies counted is three.

38 For each criminal incident involving the national offence category of blackmail/extortion, one victim is counted for each person/organisation victimised.

39 For each criminal incident involving the national offence category of UEWI, one victim is counted for each place/premise victimised. A place/premise can consist of either a single structure, e.g. house, part of a single structure, e.g. flat, or multiple structures, e.g. farmstead with house, barns and sheds. The same property containing the same structure(s) can be counted differently depending on the occupancy arrangements at the time. The following guidelines relate to the counting of UEWI offences.
  • For UEWI to multiple structures on the same property and having the same occupant(s), one victim is counted regardless of the number of separate structures entered. Examples include UEWI to: house, attached or unattached garage and the backyard shed located on the one property; warehouses occupied by a sole organisation located on same property.
  • For UEWI to multiple structures on the same property but occupied by more than one household or organisation, one victim is counted for each separate household or organisation. Where a business premise has an attached residence that is occupied by the same person(s), the registered business is considered to be a separate victim.
  • For UEWI to individual areas in a building that are rented, leased or occupied separately, one victim is counted for each separate tenant. For example, in a block of 10 flats which are leased by 10 different tenants where three flats are unlawfully entered, there is a count of three. If unlawful entry to the building itself is recorded, an additional offence of UEWI to that building is counted. Examples include UEWI to: apartments in one building; offices of several commercial firms in one business building; shops in a shopping complex; hotel rooms; and lodging houses.

40 For each criminal incident involving the national offence category of motor vehicle theft, one victim is counted for each motor vehicle stolen. For example, if five cars are stolen from a car yard, this is counted as five motor vehicle thefts.

41 For each criminal incident involving the national offence category of other theft, one victim is counted for each person/organisation victimised.

Counting across national offence categories

42 If a victim is subjected to multiple offences belonging to different national offence categories during the same criminal incident, the victim is counted once under each category. For example, someone who has been kidnapped and murdered will be counted twice according to the national counting rule; once in the kidnapping/abduction offence category and once in the homicide and related offences offence category.

43 Note that the national crime statistics do not measure:
  • the total number of individual victims, since the same victim may be counted more than once. This may occur as in the example in paragraph 42, or a victim may be counted more than once within the same national offence category if the multiple offences relate to different criminal incidents or are reported to police at different times.
  • the total number of offences recorded by police. Not all types of offences are included in the national crime statistics collection. Furthermore, if a criminal incident involves multiple offences which belong to the same national offence category and are committed against the same victim, only one count is included in the national crime statistics.
  • the charges resulting from a criminal incident, e.g. aid and abet or accessory offences.


DATA COMPARABILITY AND SIGNIFICANT EVENTS

44 As part of its ongoing quality assurance program the ABS, in conjunction with statistical staff from state and territory police forces, have identified significant events relating to the 2004 reference period that impact on state and territory numbers.

New South Wales

45 The method for extracting counts of victims of driving causing death offences from the Computerised Operational Policing System (COPS) changed in 2003. Since then, information for driving causing death has been derived by reading the offence charged from the Charge Management module of the COPS and linking the charge back to the incident and victim(s) record. Because this process is unreliable, driving causing death figures for 2003 and 2004 may be incomplete and may not be consistent with earlier years.

46 During 2004, general police operations have focused on high risk offenders and hot spot areas which may have contributed to the decrease in most offence categories from 2003 to 2004.

47 There were no revisions to the 2003 data for New South Wales.

Victoria

48 In December 2003, Compstat was implemented across Victoria Police with a focus on divisional accountability for performance. It is anticipated that over time, Compstat will create a greater focus on police activity aimed at reducing and/or preventing crime at the local level.

49 In July 2004, there was a change to the procedure for recording theft of bicycle offences in Victoria. If one or more bicycles are stolen during a burglary or other offence, then the bicycles are recorded as property items attached to the burglary or other offence. This change may have contributed to the reduction in other theft offences from 2003 to 2004.

50 Revised 2003 data were supplied by Victoria for all offence categories except driving causing death.

Queensland

51 The 2004 and revised 2003 data did not include 'not substantiated' offences, which are in scope of RCVS collection. This has led to a small reduction in numbers across most offence counts when comparing the revised 2003 data with the original data published.

52 The increase in kidnapping/abduction offences for 2004 is possibly a result of increased public awareness of these types of offences. The media and the police have established a working partnership to encourage immediate reporting of kidnapping/abduction offences and thereby increase the chances of apprehending the offenders responsible.

South Australia

53 Operation Mandrake 2, which commenced in September 2004, targets offenders of vehicle crime in five metropolitan Local Service Areas. This Operation may influence the level of reported crime and Outcomes of Investigation for motor vehicle theft.

54 The reduction in other theft offences from 2003 to 2004 may be a result of the maturation of the Local Service Area policing model, the Performance Outcome Review process and the setting of reduction targets.

55 Care should be taken when considering data presented for UEWI offences. The DiRCS project indicated that in some instances UEWI offences may be recorded by police as trespass, which is out of scope for this collection. This project also indicated that some instances of UEWI had also been incorrectly classified as other theft offences. The revised 2003 and 2004 data have been adjusted to take account of the latter issue.

56 Revised 2003 data were supplied by South Australia for the other theft offence category.

Western Australia

57 Since the Royal Commission findings into police corruption in March 2004, there has been significant flow on effects as a major reform project started to increase accountability and oversight into police procedures.

58 There was continued focus on burglary offences throughout 2004. This included significant use of media advertising against burglars (Burglar Beware) and numerous operations using additional staff and resources (e.g. Canine, Traffic) to reduce the incidence of burglary and apprehend offenders in areas with high burglary rates.

59 For most of 2004, the Information Management System (IMS) has been the primary data entry system (unlike 2003, where the Offence Information System (OIS) was also used).

60 There has been a significant increase in the use of DNA testing (and media advertising of this fact). This may have acted as a deterrent for offenders and therefore may provide some explanation for the decrease in some offence categories.

61 The increased re-licensing of second-hand vehicles has resulted in a significant increase in immobilisers being fitted to old vehicles. This may have contributed to the decrease of motor vehicle theft from 2003 to 2004.

62 Revised 2003 data were supplied by Western Australia for all offence categories except driving causing death.

Tasmania

63 The are several initiatives in place in Tasmania to reduce property type offences. These include focusing on early intervention strategies for young people and families 'at risk'; targeting volume crime; high visibility policing /crime reduction strategies; police working with other agencies to introduce more integrated strategies; greater accountability and improvements in planning, performance management and corporate reporting; and improvements in technological processes. Between 2003 and 2004, there was a reduction in property offences in Tasmania.

64 Care should be taken when considering UEWI offences as the DiRCS project indicated that in some instances UEWI offences may be recorded by police as trespass, which is out of scope for this collection.

65 Revised 2003 data were supplied by Tasmania for all offence categories except armed robbery and blackmail/extortion.

Northern Territory

66 In 2004, the implementation of intelligence-led policing initiatives such as the Tactical and Coordination Group (TCG) response to crime across the Northern Territory, has lead to early identification of crime trends such as motor vehicle theft. The decrease in motor vehicle theft between 2003 and 2004 may also be due to forensic-led response to stolen/recovered motor vehicles, an improved response coordinated through the stolen motor vehicle unit to NEVDIS (National Exchange of Vehicles and Driver Identification System), reports of vehicle anomalies (including suspected vehicle re-births) and the continual improvement of vehicle security features.

67 Revised 2003 data were supplied by Northern Territory for the offence categories of attempted murder, kidnapping/abduction, unlawful entry with intent, motor vehicle theft and other theft.

Australian Capital Territory

68 Operation Halite commenced in October 2002 and is still in operation. Operation Halite continues to target the progressive re-emergence of crime (specifically burglaries and stolen motor vehicles). Since the introduction of Operation Halite there has been a decrease in unlawful entry with intent offences.

69 Operation Gadoid, which commenced in 2004, was initiated to target armed and aggravated robberies.

70 The decrease in unarmed robbery numbers is possibly due to the decreased amount of funds needed to maintain a stable supply of illicit drugs. Heroin related overdose data suggest there has been a steady decrease in the quality, and possibly the quantity, of heroin in the Australian Capital Territory in 2004.

71 Care should be taken when considering UEWI offences as the DiRCS project indicated that in some instances UEWI offences may be recorded by police as trespass, which is out of scope for this collection.

72 Revised data were supplied by Australian Capital Territory for all offence categories except murder.


ADDITIONAL DATA

73 A set of additional tables containing state and territory wafers of some of the tables in this publication, as well as a financial year table for 2003-04, is available. For further information, contact the National Centre for Crime and Justice Statistics (NCCJS) by email at <crime.justice@abs.gov.au>.


RELATED PUBLICATIONS

ABS publications

74 Other ABS publications which may be of interest include:
Australian Demographic Statistics (cat. no. 3101.0) - issued quarterly
Australian Social Trends (cat. no. 4102.0) - issued annually
Australian Standard Offence Classification (cat. no. 1234.0) - irregular
Causes of Death, Australia (cat. no. 3303.0) - issued annually
Corrective Services, Australia (cat. no. 4512.0) - issued quarterly
Crime and Safety, Australia (cat. no. 4509.0) - irregular
Crime and Safety, New South Wales (cat. no. 4509.1) - issued annually
Criminal Courts, Australia (cat. no. 4513.0) - issued annually
General Social Survey: Summary Results, Australia (cat. no. 4159.0) - irregular
Information Paper: Measuring Crime Victimisation, Australia: The Impact of Different Collection Methodologies (cat. no. 4522.0.55.001) - single issue
Measures of Australia's Progress (cat. no. 1370.0) - issued annually
Motor Vehicle Census, Australia (cat. no. 9309.0) - issued annually
Prisoners in Australia (cat. no. 4517.0) - issued annually
Year Book Australia (cat. no. 1301.0) - issued annually

75 The Information Paper: Measuring Crime Victimisation, Australia : The Impact of Different Collection Methodologies (cat. no. 4522.0.55.001) was released by the ABS in 2004. The main aim of this paper is to increase community understanding of the nature of crime measurement in Australia and why the findings from different data sources may differ. The paper outlines national crime victimisation statistics available from several different sources in the Australian context (including Recorded Crime - Victims) and draws comparisons between the statistics from these sources. The paper also describes methodological differences between survey sources and the possible impacts of the methodological differences between the survey vehicles.

76 Current publications and other products released by the ABS are listed in the Catalogue of Publications and Products (cat. no. 1101.0). The Catalogue is available from any ABS office or on this site. The ABS also issues a daily Release Advice on the web site which details products to be released in the week ahead. The National Centre for Crime and Justice Statistics releases a biannual newsletter that is published on the ABS internet site. The Centre can be contacted by email <crime.justice@abs.gov.au>.

Non-ABS publications

77 Non-ABS sources which may be of interest include:
Australian Crime Commission, Australian Illicit Drug Report 2003-04
Australian Federal Police, Annual Report
Australian Institute of Criminology, List of Publications <http://www.aic.gov.au>
Crime Research Centre, University of Western Australia, Crime and Justice Statistics for Western Australia
NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research, New South Wales Recorded Crime Statistics
Office of Crime Prevention, Northern Territory Government, Northern Territory Quarterly Crime and Justice Statistics
Office of Crime Statistics and Research, South Australia, Crime and Justice in South Australia
Queensland Police Service, Statistical Review
Steering Committee for the Review of Government Service Provision, Report on Government Services
South Australian Police Department, Statistical Review Annual Report
Tasmanian Department of Police and Emergency Services and the State Fire Commission, Annual Report
Victoria Police, Crime Statistics

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