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3 Statistics in this publication are derived from information held in administrative systems which are collected and maintained by police agencies within each state and territory. This information is collected by the ABS and has been compiled according to the National Crime Recording Standard (NCRS) in order to maximise consistency between states and territories. For information on the NCRS refer to paragraphs 13-16.
4 National crime statistics are produced annually on a calendar year basis. The reference period for this publication relates to offences that have been reported to police between 1 January and 31 December 2014.
5 The offence categories used within this publication are based on the Australian and New Zealand Standard Offence Classification (ANZSOC), (third edition) (cat. no. 1234.0). The third edition of ANZSOC has been developed for use within Australia and New Zealand for the production and analysis of crime and justice statistics. It replaces the second edition and incorporates a title change from ASOC to ANZSOC only. The classification content and structure – which was updated in the second edition of ANZSOC following a minor review of the first edition of ASOC released in 1997 – remains unchanged.
6 The objective of the ANZSOC is to provide a uniform national statistical framework for classifying criminal behaviour in the production and analysis of crime and justice statistics. For further information on the mapping of national offence categories to the ANZSOC see the Appendix.
7 Given the complex nature of policing, many factors ultimately influence the level of recorded crime, which may not necessarily reflect changes in the actual number of criminal incidents:
Differences in Recorded Crime Statistics Project
9 The National Crime Statistics Unit (NCSU) Board of Management commissioned the ABS to investigate discrepancies in the recording of crime statistics across jurisdictions. A paper outlining the conduct and outcomes of the Differences in Recorded Crime Statistics (DiRCS) project was released in 2005 and is available on the National Statistical Service website <www.nss.gov.au>.
10 Findings from the DiRCS project indicated that data for assault were not comparable across all states and territories. Testing of this offence type highlighted that there were inconsistent recording practices across the states and territories. 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 varied across jurisdictions and were not guided by national standards.
11 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.
12 In considering other aspects of recorded crime statistics, the DiRCS project and subsequent data quality investigations concluded that information for offence types other than assault were satisfactory for the level of comparison presented in this publication. Where there are known specific issues for individual states and territories, these are described in paragraphs 61-82.
National Crime Recording Standard (NCRS)
13 As part of the ABS's ongoing commitment to ensuring data comparability and quality, the NCRS was developed to address the lack of a uniform standard in the initial police recording processes identified in the DiRCS project. This standard complements the already established classifications and counting rules for the Recorded Crime – Victims collection and improves the level of comparability of these statistics across jurisdictions.
14 The main objective of the NCRS is to provide clear guidance to police agencies on the criteria to be considered when making a judgement as to what should be recorded on police recording systems in order to meet national crime statistical requirements.
15 The NCRS comprises a uniform set of business rules and requirements that were developed in collaboration with police agencies across Australia to guide the recording and counting of criminal incidents for statistical purposes and enable consistency in recording. A comprehensive set of scenarios has also been developed which underpin the rules and requirements of the NCRS. These scenarios provide police agencies with guidance about how to deal with an incident from the point at which it comes to police attention, to the point at which it is recorded into crime statistics.
16 The application of the rules and requirements of the NCRS enable the recording of crime for statistical purposes in a comparable manner, while still allowing for the recording and retaining of information on police systems for the primary reasons of operational investigation and law enforcement.
Differences in rule interpretation
17 While the application of rules and requirements of the NCRS was designed to enable the recording of crime in a comparable manner across all jurisdictions, there is some variability in the interpretation of the rules. In particular the Rule 2 which guides what is recorded on police systems when an incident is reported to police. According to the NCRS Police officers are required to take a report at 'face value' and record an incident on their crime recording system. An investigation will then follow to determine whether a crime has been committed at law.
18 As a consequence of the lack of data comparability for assault and as part of an ongoing commitment to ensuring national data comparability, it has been determined that assault data will only be published for those jurisdictions complying with the NCRS.
19 In relation to reporting of incidents of assault there are differences in interpretation and implementation of this rule across states and territories. New South Wales, South Australia, Tasmania, Northern Territory, Australian Capital Territory and Western Australia have interpreted and implemented the rule as required, and data for these jurisdictions are available. This publication presents Tasmanian assault data for the first time since 2010, as the ABS is satisfied that this information is recorded in a manner consistent with the NCRS. Published assault data are suitable for cross-jurisdictional comparisons.
20 The interpretation and implementation of the recording rule for assault incidents varies from the standard for Victoria and Queensland. The variation is particularly around whether an element of investigation occurs before deciding to record an incident on their crime recording system. The degree to which this approach is taken and the potential impact on data across the states varies and is discussed below in State and Territory specific issues.
21 National data for assault are not available in the Recorded Crime – Victims publication; it is recommended that the ABS National Crime Victimisation Survey be used to make national cross-jurisdiction comparisons. For further information see paragraphs 90-91.
BREAK IN SERIES
22 The 2010 publication marked a break in series for the Recorded Crime – Victims collection. This was due to changes in police recording practices, implementation of revisions to the ANZSOC and the implementation of the National Crime Recording Standard (NCRS). Data published prior to the 2010 collection are not strictly comparable, and comparisons with the series published prior to this period should be avoided.
23 The scope of this collection includes victims of offences classified to selected divisions and/or subdivisions of ANZSOC. A victim can be a person, premises, organisation, or motor vehicle depending on the type of offence (for more information refer to paragraphs 43-49). Selected offence categories include:
28 The geographic definition of Australia, as used by the ABS, includes other territories. However, these territories are generally out of scope for ABS collections. Victims of crime in Jervis Bay Territory, or any other external territory under Australian Federal Police jurisdiction are not included in any counts in this publication.
29 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. In this issue, 2013 data have been revised for Victoria, Tasmania, the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory. All New South Wales data from 2010 to 2013 have also been revised. For more specific information about certain revisions, see paragraphs 61-82.
30 The Census and Statistics Act 1905 provides the authority for the ABS to collect statistical information, and requires that statistical output shall not be published or disseminated in a manner that is likely to enable the identification of a particular person or organisation. This requirement means that the ABS must ensure that any statistical information about individuals cannot be derived from published data.
31 To minimise the risk of identifying individuals in aggregate statistics, a technique is used to randomly adjust cell values and summary variables. This technique is called perturbation and has been applied to the Recorded Crime - Victims collection for the first time for the 2014 release. Perturbation involves small random adjustment of the statistics and is considered the most satisfactory technique for avoiding the release of identifiable statistics while maximising the range of information that can be released. These adjustments have a negligible impact on the underlying pattern of the statistics.
32 After perturbation, a given published cell value will be consistent across all tables. However, the sum of components of a total will not necessarily give the same result as the published total in a particular table. As such, proportions may add to more or less than 100%. Readers are advised to use the published totals rather than deriving totals based on the component cells.
33 Cells with relatively small values may be proportionally more affected by perturbation than large values. Users are advised against conducting analyses and drawing conclusions based on small values.
34 Perturbation has been applied to the 2014 data as well as to historical data presented in this publication. Previously, a different technique was used to confidentialise these data and therefore there may be small differences between historical data presented in this publication and those published in previous issues of this publication.
35 Victimisation rates are expressed as victims per 100,000 of the ABS Estimated Resident Population (ERP). These rates generally accord with international and state and territory practice, and are calculated using the midpoint of the reference period (i.e. 30 June).
36 The rates presented in this issue are calculated using ERP data based on the 2011 Census of Population and Housing. For population estimates and information on the methodology used to produce ERP, see Australian Demographic Statistics (cat. no. 3101.0). For Recorded Crime – Victims data, all estimates and projections for the Australian Capital Territory exclude Jervis Bay Territory. All estimates and projections for Australia exclude the external territories of Christmas Island and the Cocos (Keeling) Islands.
37 Victimisation rates vary across sex and age categories. This publication presents age and sex specific victimisation rates, which are calculated using estimates of the age and sex breakdowns of the population.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander victimisation rates
38 Victimisation rates for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous people are calculated using recast estimates (for the period 1996 to 2011) and projections (2012 to 2026) of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population based on data from the 2011 Census of Population and Housing, and rely upon assumptions about future fertility, paternity, life expectancy at birth and migration.
39 The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander projections used are based on Series B in the ABS publication Estimates and Projections, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, 2001 to 2026 (cat. no. 3238.0).
40 If Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander victim counts remained constant, an expected result of the change to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population estimates and projections would be a decrease in the victimisation rate. This is due to the assumptions used by Series B resulting in higher population estimates and projections than those previously used.
41 Rates for the non-Indigenous population are calculated using the ERP for the total population of the state or territory minus the projected Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population for the relevant jurisdiction.
42 Care should be exercised in interpreting rates based on small numbers of victims.
43 A victim can be a person, premises, organisation or motor vehicle depending on the type of offence. A victim of a criminal incident is classified to one of the offence categories in scope of this collection (see paragraphs 23-26 for offences in scope).
44 Data are compiled on the basis of the date an offence is reported to police and recorded within the reference period. 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, and was recorded on police systems. The report date may not necessarily be the date when the offence occurred. This is particularly the case for homicide and related offences and sexual assault offences, where in some instances there may be a large time difference between when the offence(s) occurred and the report/detection date.
45 It should be noted that the Recorded Crime – Victims collection does not enumerate unique persons or organisations. If a person is a victim of one offence, they will be counted once in this publication. If a person:
47 Other examples of how different victim scenarios are counted are explained below:
Age of victims
50 The age of a victim as presented in this publication refers to the age the victim was at the time they became known to police, rather than the age that the person was when they experienced victimisation. For example, if a victim was sexually assaulted at age 14 years but did not report the offence to police until they were 18 years of age; their age in this publication would be 18 years.
51 Preliminary analysis by the NCSU indicates that the proportion of historical offences present in the Recorded Crime - Victims data differs by offence grouping. Sexual assault counts in particular, have the highest proportion of offences that were committed more than 12 months ago. Care should be exercised when interpreting age data for sexual assault victims.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander victims
52 Indigenous status is based on self-identification by the individual who comes into contact with police. The quality of the data is dependent on police asking individuals to self-identify and responses being recorded on police systems. Where individuals are not able to provide an answer for themselves, jurisdictions may accept a response where a next of kin/guardian provides the information.
53 This publication presents data for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander victims for a selected range of personal offences for New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia and the Northern Territory. Based on an ABS assessment of data quality, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander data for recorded victims of crime for other jurisdictions are not of sufficient quality for national reporting in 2014.
54 For information about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander victimisation rates refer to paragraphs 38-42.
Outcome of Investigation
55 Data are presented in this publication for outcome of investigation at 30 days after the date of report. However, where police have determined after an investigation that 'no crime' has occurred at 30, 90 or 180 days since the initial report to police, the offence is excluded from the data.
56 The Northern Territory is unable to code their outcome of investigation data in line with the requirements of the national outcome code 'no crime'. As a result, Northern Territory data may include victim counts for those situations where police have determined after investigation that 'no crime' has occurred.
Relationship of offender to victim
57 The relationship of offender to victim is defined as the relationship of the alleged offender to the victim, as perceived by the victim at the time of the offence, not when further investigation has occurred or when an offender is apprehended at a later date.
58 Relationship of offender to victim data is not available for Western Australia as it is not captured on the same basis as other states and territories (i.e. at the time the offence is recorded).
59 There are some inconsistencies in relationship of offender to victim data across jurisdictions:
STATE/TERRITORY EVENTS AND SPECIFIC ISSUES
61 The following information highlights events or processes unique to a state/territory that may have an impact on the data for this collection. This may include specific initiatives, recording practices, or changes to legislation or policy supplied by each state/territory.
New South Wales
62 During the 2014 collection cycle, a number of data extraction and coding errors were identified in previously provided Recorded Crime Victims data for NSW. Among other issues, it was discovered that sexual assault counts had been undercounted, and that there was an overcount in the number of victims with an 'investigation not finalised.' Consequently, all NSW data from 2010 to 2013 have been revised. Users are advised to refer to the 2014 publication and datacubes for all NSW Recorded Crime Victims statistics from 2010 onwards.
63 Prior to 2012, NSW provided data on the basis of age of victim at the time the incident occurred. The age of victim has since been provided at the date an offence is reported to police (except for homicide and related offences) in accordance with all other jurisdictions.
64 Counts of kidnapping/abduction may be slightly inflated. 'Deprivation of liberty' (which is out of scope for this collection) is not separately identifiable on the NSW Police recording system; therefore counts of this offence type are also included in the kidnapping/abduction offence category.
65 All family and domestic violence related assaults are recorded even if the victim does not want to proceed.
66 An assault will still be recorded if there are no signs of injury and the victim does not wish to take the matter further. There is also a propensity in New South Wales to record assaults that occur as a part of public disturbances (e.g. a pub brawl).
67 During the 2014 collection cycle, it was discovered that the national counting rules had not been applied correctly to Victorian data in previous reference years, resulting in an overstatement of the number of victims for most offence types. The statistical impact of this error was found to be negligible for offence types, with the exception of sexual assault and motor vehicle theft. Previously published data for 2013 represented an overstatement of the number of victims of sexual assault by 10% and motor vehicle theft by 4%. Consequently, revised data for 2013 have been included in the 2014 publication to facilitate comparison with the previous year's data. Users are advised to refer to the 2014 publication and datacubes for Victorian Recorded Crime - Victims statistics for 2013, and that published data from 2010-2012 are not directly comparable with data published for 2013 onwards.
68 Victoria may record an offence (where the facts indicate that a crime has been committed) if the victim does not wish to proceed, depending on the severity of that offence.
69 Property taken in association with UEWI may not always be identified due to limitations in recording options in the Victoria Police Law Enforcement Assistance Program (LEAP) computer system. Therefore, caution should be used when assessing the sub components of UEWI. The total counts for UEWI are correct, however further disaggregation results in an undercount for 'UEWI - involving the taking of property' and an overcount of 'UEWI - other'.
70 For incidents of assault, Victoria differs from other jurisdictions in the interpretation and implementation of the NCRS (see paragraphs 13-21 for more information). Some element of an investigation will be undertaken before deciding whether to record an incident on their crime recording system. A record of the incident may be taken on other systems however the incident will not be recorded on the police recording system until it is determined that a crime has been committed. As a result of the comparability issues arising from this difference in interpretation and implementation of the NCRS a decision has been made not to make available assault data for Victoria.
71 Where an incident involving assault is reported to police, it is not taken on face value and recorded on the Queensland Police Records and Information Management Exchange (QPRIME). Where a domestic violence incident occurs which involves an alleged assault and the victim does not consent to proceeding with an assault charge, the assault matter is not recorded on QPRIME. In other jurisdictions, the incident would be included in the police recorded crime data even if the victim does not want to proceed with the assault. The impact of this is that assault statistics produced for Queensland are lower than those reported in the Crime Victimisation Survey. As a result of the comparability issues arising from this difference in the interpretation and implementation of the NCRS a decision has been made not to make available assault data for Queensland.
72 For Tasmania and Queensland, when an assault co-occurs with a UEWI offence, only the UEWI offence is counted in this publication.
73 South Australia does not record an assault for an unknown victim but may record another offence such as theft (when evidence suggests an assault or another offence has taken place) if they cannot locate a victim or their representative.
74 South Australia records all family and domestic violence related assaults even if the victim does not want to proceed.
75 South Australia Police record a single victim in instances where multiple vehicles belonging to the same owner are stolen in a single incident. Victims of motor vehicle theft may therefore be understated. However, impact to victim counts is considered minimal.
76 The legal age of consent to sex for South Australia and Tasmania is 17 years of age. The legal age of consent in all other states and territories is 16 years.
77 It is a legal requirement in Western Australia for doctors, nurses, midwives, teachers and police officers to report all reasonable beliefs of child sexual abuse to the Department for Child Protection.
78 The legal age of consent to sex for South Australia and Tasmania is 17 years of age. The legal age of consent in all other states and territories is 16 years.
79 For Tasmania and Queensland, when an assault co-occurs with a UEWI offence, only the UEWI offence is counted in this publication.
80 Assault in the Northern Territory is clearly defined under sections 187-188 of the NT Criminal Code Act and therefore does not rely on common law definitions.
81 The Northern Territory case management system does not include a 'no crime' outcome of investigation code. As a result, Northern Territory data may include victim counts for those situations where police have determined after investigation that 'no crime' has occurred. This differs to all other states and territories where 'no crime' data has been excluded from the victim counts.
Australian Capital Territory
82 Motor vehicles that are stolen in the Australian Capital Territory, but recovered in another state/territory are recorded on the Australian Capital Territory operational IT systems and included in the counts.
COMPARISONS TO OTHER ABS DATA
83 As different methodologies are used, caution should be exercised in making any direct comparisons between different data sources. The information paper Measuring Victims of Crime: A Guide to Using Administrative and Survey Data (cat. no. 4522.0.55.001), released by the ABS in June 2011, 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.
84 The main aim of this paper is to increase community understanding of the nature of different collection methodologies of crime victimisation data in Australia and why the findings from different data sources may differ. The paper also describes methodological differences between survey sources and the possible impacts of the methodological differences between the survey vehicles.
Recorded Crime – Offenders, Australia
85 There are strong links between victims and offenders recorded by police in their administrative systems. Once a victim is recorded by police an investigation may ensue which could result, although not always, in an offender being proceeded against by police. However, there are a number of limitations in comparing the Recorded Crime – Victims collection and the Recorded Crime – Offenders collection:
Crime Victimisation, Australia
87 Another key source of data about people's experience of crime is the annual ABS Crime Victimisation Survey, which is a complementary source to the Recorded Crime - Victims collection. This survey collects information about experiences of crime, the extent to which incidents of crime were subsequently reported to police and perceptions of neighbourhood problems and feelings of safety for a broad selected set of offences (see Crime Victimisation, Australia (cat. no. 4530.0)).
88 Due to differences in recording across states and territories, it is recommended that the survey data be used as the source to compare assault data across jurisdictions, rather than data presented in this publication.
Personal Safety Survey, Australia
89 A further source of crime victimisation data that measures people's experience of violence, harassment and stalking is the ABS Personal Safety Survey, last run in 2012. This survey provides detailed information collected from individuals about their experiences of threats/attempts or actual physical assault or sexual assault; the type of perpetrator; experience of harassment and stalking; reporting of incidents to police; feelings of safety; and includes a range of characteristics about some of these incidents of violence (see Personal Safety Survey, Australia (cat. no. 4906.0)).
COMPARISONS TO NON-ABS SOURCES
90 Recorded Crime - Victims statistics are compiled on a victim basis in that they count the number of victims for each individual offence category, rather than the number of breaches of the criminal law. The statistics presented in this publication may be different from those published by police forces in individual states and territories. Different definitions of offences (see Glossary) and counting methodology (see paragraphs 43-49) will result in variations.
91 Other ABS publications which may be of interest are on the Related Information tab.
92 Current publications and other products released by the ABS are available from the ABS website <www.abs.gov.au>. The ABS also provides a Release Calendar on the website detailing products to be released in the next six months. The National Centre for Crime and Justice Statistics can be contacted by email <email@example.com>.
93 Non-ABS sources which may be of interest include:
EXPERIMENTAL FAMILY AND DOMESTIC VIOLENCE STATISTICS
94 This supplementary release provides experimental data about victims of selected Family and Domestic Violence (FDV) offences as recorded by police. These data should be interpreted with caution, taking into account the factors described in these explanatory notes.
95 Within the context of national Recorded Crime Victims statistics, a family and domestic violence related offence is defined as:
“An offence involving at least two persons who are in a specified family or domestic relationship and which has been determined by police officers to be family and/or domestic violence related as part of their investigation.”
FAMILY AND DOMESTIC VIOLENCE FLAG
97 The data presented in this release are based on a FDV flag as recorded by police officers on their crime recording systems. The FDV flag is one of a number of information sources used by police to determine whether an offence is FDV-related and users should note that some offences which are not flagged may still be FDV-related.
99 FDV flag data was provided for seven jurisdictions. Tasmania was unable to provide FDV flag data as family violence information is recorded on a separate database to the Tasmania Police Crime Recording system and records from the two systems cannot be readily matched for statistical reporting purposes. As a result, national data are not available.
Application of the FDV flag to offence types
100 The experimental FDV data relates to selected personal offences only. Practices around use of a FDV flag on police crime recording systems for property offences and offences where the victim is an organisation differ widely between jurisdictions. Robbery, theft, unlawful entry with intent and motor vehicle theft offences, although included elsewhere in this publication, have been excluded from the experimental FDV statistics. For more information refer to paragraphs 43-49).
102 As discussed in Explanatory Note paragraph 7, the comparability of data based on the FDV flag is influenced by differences between the jurisdictions in legislation, business rules, procedures and systems.
Carer and kinship relationships
103 Legislation in New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory explicitly includes kinship, extended family and carer relationships (with part coverage of carer relationships in South Australia and the Australian Capital Territory). In Western Australia these relationships may be included under “other personal relationship”. In Victoria they may fall under “other lineal relationship” and “other known relationship”.
104 In some jurisdictions, the use of the FDV flag prompts a series of further procedures which must be undertaken by police where an offence is FDV-related. In these circumstances, the reliability of the flag for statistical purposes is enhanced. In other jurisdictions, the use of the FDV flag only identifies the incident as FDV-related and no further actions are required. As such, a higher level of statistical error may be associated with data based on the flag (for example, data entry errors are less likely to be noticed or rectified as part of routine business practices).
107 In South Australia and Western Australia, the FDV flag is applied to the victim record, whereas in New South Wales, Victoria, the Northern Territory, and Australian Capital Territory the FDV flag is recorded at the incident level. This may result in some offences being flagged as FDV-related which do not meet the definition of a FDV relationship. As a result, the number of FDV-related offences for jurisdictions that record the flag at the incident level may be slightly overstated (less than 0.5% of any selected offence category).
109 This is a one-off experimental data release and is subject to further evaluation. The ABS is interested in feedback from users of these statistics. Users are invited to provide comments to the ABS on any aspect of the release. Please send written feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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