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4519.0 - Recorded Crime - Offenders, Selected states and territories, 2007-08 Quality Declaration 
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 27/08/2009  First Issue
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EXPLANATORY NOTES


INTRODUCTION

1 This publication presents statistics about the characteristics of alleged offenders who were proceeded against by police during the period 1 July 2007 to 30 June 2008, for all states and territories, except Western Australia. This includes information about the most serious offence, referred to as the principal offence, associated with an alleged offender. Statistics are also presented on the number of police proceedings that police initiated in the form of court actions during 2007-08; data about non-court actions are not currently available.


DATA SOURCE

2 Statistics in this publication are derived from information on offenders collected by the ABS from administrative records held by state and territory police agencies.


SCOPE

3 The scope of the collection includes all alleged offenders, aged 10 years and over, who have been proceeded against by police during the reference period.

4 All criminal offences where police agencies have the authority to take legal action against an individual are included. Depending on the type of offence committed, police will either initiate a court or non-court action. Court actions largely comprise the laying of charges against an alleged offender that must be answered in court. Offenders may be taken into custody, granted bail or issued with a summons for these charges pending an appearance in court. The proceeding may also be withdrawn or changed from a court to a non-court action. Non-court actions comprise legal actions such as informal or formal cautions/warnings, conferencing, counselling, such as drug diversionary schemes, or the issuing of penalty or infringement notices, which do not require an appearance in court.


Exclusions

5 The scope excludes the following:

  • persons less than 10 years of age;
  • organisations;
  • offences that come under the authority of agencies other than state and territory police, such as Environmental Protection Authorities, etc; and
  • proceedings initiated by federal police.

6 Due to quality and/or comparability issues, the statistics presented in this publication exclude the following:
  • data for Western Australia;
  • traffic offence information, specifically related to Australian Standard Offence Classification (ASOC) Division 14 - Road Traffic and Motor Vehicle Regulatory Offences and Subdivision 041- Dangerous or negligent operation of a vehicle;
  • ASOC Group 1512 - Breach of Bail;
  • police initiated non-court proceedings for the police proceeding population; and
  • Indigenous offenders for Victoria, Queensland, Tasmania and the Australian Capital Territory.

7 Data for Western Australia are not available as the data cannot be extracted to meet the statistical requirements of the offenders collection. Pending data quality improvements, data relating to the above exclusions may be available in future releases.


REFERENCE PERIOD

8 The statistics in this collection relate to offenders proceeded against by police during the reference period 1 July 2007 and 30 June 2008.


COUNTING METHODOLOGY

9 The following provides an explanation as to how offenders and proceedings are treated and counted in this collection.

10 The main counting unit for this collection is the offender.


Date of Action

11 Data are compiled on the basis of the date that police initiated action or proceeded against an offender (e.g. the date the offender was charged, the date the offender was cautioned, etc). The date the offender was proceeded against by police may not be the date when the offence occurred, or the date when the offender came to the attention of police. In some jurisdictions the data may reflect the date of record creation rather than date of action, however, this does not have a significant impact on the comparability of data across jurisdictions for offenders as there are no major lags between the two dates.


Offender counts

12 For the offender population, an offender is only counted once irrespective of how many offences they committed within the same incident or how many times they were dealt with by police during the reference period. All methods of proceedings are included in these counts (ie:court and non-court actions).


Police proceeding counts

13 For the police initiated proceeding population an offender may be counted more than once if proceeded against on separate occasions by police in the reference period. Data are only presented for court proceedings; non-court proceedings are excluded from these counts.


Principal offence

14 Offence information presented in this publication relates to the most serious offence or principal offence allegedly committed by an individual offender during the reference period. These statistics are not designed to provide a count of the total number of individual offences that come to the attention of police.

15 For the offender counts, where a single offence is processed by police on a single date, the offender is assigned that offence as their principal offence. Where multiple offences are committed within the same incident on a single date by an offender, the offender is assigned a principal offence based on the most serious offence using the ABS National Offence Index (NOI). For more information about the NOI refer to paragraph 22. Offenders proceeded against by police on more than one occasion in the reference period are also assigned a principal offence on this same basis.

16 For the police initiated court proceeding counts, offenders who are proceeded against more than once in the reference period are assigned a principal offence for each separate date of police action. The following diagram provides an illustration of the assigning of a principal offence and the resulting counts for both populations.

Diagram: Principal offence


Principal method of proceeding

17 As a person may be proceeded against for multiple offences, either in a single day or on different occasions, the various offences linked to that offender may result in different legal actions; that is, both court and non-court actions. For offender counts the method of proceeding will be determined by the principal offence assigned to that offender. For police proceeding counts, as offenders who are proceeded against more than once in the reference period are assigned a principal offence for each separate date of police action, they are also assigned the appropriate method linked to each principal offence.

18 For more information about these classifications refer to paragraphs 19-23 of the Explanatory Notes.


CLASSIFICATIONS

19 The national classifications used to collect and produce data about offenders are:
  • ASOC;
  • NOI; and
  • Method of Proceeding.


Australian Standard Offence Classification (ASOC)

20 ASOC provides a uniform national classificatory framework for classifying offences across Australia for statistical purposes. The classification is a hierarchical structure allowing for varying degrees of detail to be published depending on the level of detail in the source information. Associated with each classification are coding rules which ensure that the counting of information is consistent across states and territories. The offence information in this publication relates to the 1997 edition of the ASOC. For further information about ASOC refer to Australian Standard Offence Classification (cat. no 1234.0).

21 The ABS released a revised edition of the ASOC in 2008 (second edition). Offence information on the revised ASOC is expected to be implemented for the 2008-09 offenders collection.


National Offence Index (NOI)

22 The NOI is a tool which provides an ordinal ranking of all ASOC Groups in ASOC according to perceived seriousness in order to determine a principal offence. The purpose of NOI is to enable the representation of an offender by a single offence in instances where multiple offences occur within the same incident or where offenders offend on more than one occasion in the reference period. For further information about NOI refer to National Offence Index, 2009 (cat. no 1234.0.55.001).


Method of Proceeding

23 The method of proceeding describes the type of legal action (court or non-court) initiated by police against a person as a result of an investigation of an offence(s). The method of proceeding classification is a hierarchical classification. For detailed information about the classification refer to Appendix 2. For information about the counting methodology used for method of proceedings refer to paragraph 17 of the Explanatory Notes.


OFFENDER RATES

24 Offender rates enable comparison of offenders across the states and territories. Offender rates are expressed as offenders per 100,000 of the Estimated Resident Population (ERP). These rates generally accord with international and state and territory practice.

25 Rates for the offender population are calculated using the midpoint of the reference period (i.e. 31 December 2007). The ERP used in the calculation of these rates are for persons aged 10 years and over for all states and territories.

26 For more information on ERP, see Australian Demographic Statistics, December quarter, 2008 (cat. no. 3101.0). For the offenders collection, all estimates and projections for the Australian Capital Territory exclude Jervis Bay Territory.


Indigenous offender rates

27 Indigenous offender rates are expressed per 100,000 Indigenous population aged 10 years or over. Rates for the Indigenous population in this publication are based on the low series projections for 30 June 2008 from Experimental Estimates and Projections, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, 30 June 1991 to 30 June 2009 (cat. no. 3238.0). These projections are based on the 2001 Census of Population and Housing. The new series of Indigenous population projections are scheduled for release in September 2009 and will be based on the 2006 Census of Population and Housing.

28 The low series are one of two series of these projections that have been published for the years 2002 to 2009.
  • The low series assumes no 'unexplained growth' - that is, the Indigenous population recorded in the 2001 Census of Population and Housing is projected to change only as a result of births and deaths (natural increase) and, for the states and territories, as a result of interstate migration. According to the low series, the projected population at June 2008 for New South Wales was 150,971, South Australia 29,185 and the Northern Territory 62,932.
  • The high series assumes that there will be 'unexplained growth' in the Indigenous population - that is, the Indigenous population is projected to change as a result of an unexplained component in addition to the effects of natural increase and interstate migration. The size of the unexplained component is based on the 'unexplained growth' observed between the 1996 and 2001 censuses. According to the high series, the projected population at June 2008 for New South Wales was 176,072, South Australia 31,290 and the Northern Territory 63,848.

29 Rates for the non-Indigenous population are calculated using the total ERP of persons aged 10 years and over for each state or territory minus the projected Indigenous population aged 10 years and over.


INDIGENOUS OFFENDERS

30 This publication presents data on Indigenous offenders only for New South Wales, South Australia and the Northern Territory. Based on an ABS assessment, Indigenous data for offenders for other jurisdictions are not of sufficient quality for national reporting in 2007-08. Further work is underway with other jurisdictions to improve the quality of the Indigenous data for offender statistics.

31 Indigenous status is based on self-identification by the individual who comes into contact with police. The quality of the data is dependant on police asking individuals to self-identify.

32 Indigenous identification is difficult to ascertain for offences that largely are actioned by way of summons, infringement and/or penalty notices, therefore certain offences will have high rates of unknown Indigenous status. High rates of unknown Indigenous status are prevalent for public order, illicit drugs, justice procedures, government security and operations and miscellaneous offences. This should be taken into account when comparing Indigenous and non-Indigenous data.


DATA COMPARABILITY

33 National offender statistics are compiled in order to maximise comparability across states and territories. The Offenders collection has been designed to facilitate comparisons of states and territories though the application of common national statistical standards and counting rules. However, some legislative and processing differences remain. The following information highlights those processes unique to a jurisdiction that may have had an impact on the data for this collection. This may include recording practices, legislation or policy to combat particular types of crime.


New South Wales

34 The high rate of unknown Indigenous status for homicide offences is mostly due to the high proportion of summonses related to driving causing death offences. Almost all of the 'not stated' counts for justice offences are due to the issuing of penalty notices.


Victoria

35 Victoria has a lower rate of public order offences, property damage and environmental pollution, and offences against justice than other jurisdictions as all Victorian penalty/infringement notices are not included in these offence counts. These data are not included as they reside with a third party. The total offender rate for Victoria is also likely to be underestimated as a result of this issue.


South Australia

36 Caution should be exercised with counts of offenders with a principal offence of illicit drug offences for South Australia as the data may be overstated. Data relating to offenders issued with Cannabis Expiation Notices (CEN) are stored on a separate infringements database and this information cannot be linked to other databases that store information about offenders. Offenders with CEN's are effectively assigned a principal offence of illicit drugs. As offenders cannot be linked across the databases, if an offender has committed an offence in addition to a CEN then that offender may be counted twice. General Expiation Notices (GEN), usually issued for public order and justice offences, are stored in an infringement database and cannot be linked, however, the impact to the offender counts and the associated principal offence are likely to be minimal.

37 The high rate of unknown Indigenous status for illicit drug offences relates to the large number of penalty notices (CEN's) issued for these offence types. Public order and offences against justice also have high rates of unknowns due to the large number of penalty notices (GEN's) issued for these offence types. Indigenous status and other demographic variables (country of birth, language spoken, occupation) are not collected for penalty notices.


Northern Territory

38 The high rate of unknown Indigenous status for illicit drug offences, public order offences and miscellaneous offences are due to the large number of penalty notices issued for these offence types.


COMPARISONS TO OTHER ABS DATA

Recorded Crime - Victims

39 There are strong links between victims and offenders recorded by police in their administrative systems as 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, a number of limitations exist between the offenders collection and data from the Recorded Crime - Victims collection:
  • data cannot be directly linked;
  • counting units vary as the concept of a principal offence is not applied in the victims collection. Victims may be counted more than once if multiple offences reside in different ASOC divisions;
  • the reference period used in the victims collection is based on a calendar year, while the offenders collection is based on a financial year;
  • police may detect offending without a victim reporting a crime, or in instances of 'victimless' crimes, such as illicit drug offences or regulatory offences. These are excluded from the victims collection; and
  • statistics about victims of assault and sexual assault are not strictly comparable across the jurisdictions in the victims collection. As a result, comparisons should not be made using assault and sexual assault counts from both collections. For more information about the victims collection, refer to Recorded Crime - Victims, Australia (cat no. 4510.0).

40 Despite these differences broad comparisons can be made between the two collections.


Criminal Courts Data

41 Data relating to the number of court initiated police proceedings are not strictly comparable to the number of defendants sourced from the Criminal Courts collection. Not all court related actions initiated by police will proceed to a criminal court as police proceedings may be withdrawn or changed to other legal actions by police during the course of an investigation. Furthermore, a defendant appearing in a criminal court in Australia may be prosecuted via charges initiated by authorities other than police. There will also be lags between when the police initiate action via a court method of proceeding and when a criminal court finalises a defendants case. In most cases the offender counts should be higher than defendant counts, however this may not be the case for all offence types due to charges laid by other authorities. For more information about criminal courts see Criminal Courts, Australia (cat. no. 4513.0) .


CONFIDENTIALITY

42 Table cells containing small values have been randomly adjusted to avoid releasing confidential information. Due to the randomisation process, totals may vary slightly across tables.


RELATED PUBLICATIONS

ABS publications

43 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 quarterly
  • Australian Standard Offence Classification (cat. no. 1234.0) - irregular
  • Conceptual Framework for Family and Domestic Violence (cat. no. 4529) - single issue
  • 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) - irregular
  • Criminal Courts, Australia (cat. no. 4513.0) - issued annually
  • Experimental Estimates and Projections, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, 30 June 1991 to 30 June 2009 (cat. no. 3238.0) - issued five yearly
  • General Social Survey: Summary Results, Australia (cat. no. 4159.0) - four yearly
  • Information Paper: National Information Development Plan for Crime and Justice Statistics 2005 (cat. no. 4520.0) - single issue
  • Information Paper: National Criminal Justice Statistical Framework (cat. no. 4525) - single issue
  • Measures of Australia's Progress (cat. no. 1370.0) - issued biennially
  • National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey (cat.no.4714.0) - irregular
  • Personal Safety Survey (cat. no. 4906.0) - irregular
  • Prisoners in Australia (cat. no. 4517.0) - issued annually
  • Year Book Australia (cat. no. 1301.0) - biennial

44 Current publications and other products released by the ABS are available from the ABS website <http://www.abs.gov.au>. The ABS also issues a daily Release Advice on the website that details products to be released in the week ahead. The National Centre for Crime and Justice Statistics within the ABS releases Crime and Justice News (cat. no. 4500.0), an annual newsletter that is published on the ABS website. The National Centre for Crime and Justice Statistics can be contacted by email <crime.justice@abs.gov.au>.


Non-ABS publications

45 Non-ABS sources which may be of interest include:
  • Australian Crime Commission, Australian Illicit Drug Report
  • 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 Public Safety, Annual Report
  • Victoria Police, Crime Statistics


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