Australian Bureau of Statistics
4519.0 - Recorded Crime - Offenders, 2011-12 Quality Declaration
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 28/02/2013
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6 Due to quality and/or comparability issues, or an inability to supply data to the ABS, the statistics presented in this publication exclude the following:
7 The statistics in this collection relate to offenders proceeded against by police during the reference period 1 July 2011 and 30 June 2012.
8 The main counting unit for this collection is the offender.
9 The following information provides an explanation as to how offenders and police proceedings are treated and counted in this collection.
Date of action
10 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.
11 For the offender population, an offender is only counted once irrespective of how many offences they may have 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 (i.e. court and non-court actions).
Police proceeding counts
12 For the police proceeding population, an offender may be counted more than once if proceeded against on separate occasions by police during the reference period. Data are presented for both court and non-court proceedings.
13 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.
14 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 24. Offenders proceeded against by police on more than one occasion in the reference period are also assigned a principal offence on this same basis.
15 For the police 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.
Principal method of proceeding
16 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.
17 The national classifications used to collect and produce data about offenders are:
Australian and New Zealand Standard Offence Classification (ANZSOC), 2011
18 ANZSOC provides a uniform national 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.
19 An offence classification was first developed in this format in 1997 called the Australian Standard Offence Classification (ASOC). A second edition of the ASOC was released in 2008 which contained updates to improve coverage to cater for offences of emerging importance; increase relevance and usability; and maintain comparability and continuity. In 2011, the offence classification was updated from the Australian Standard Offence Classification (ASOC) to the Australian and New Zealand Standard Offence Classification (ANZSOC), however changes were not made to the content of the classification. For further information about ANZSOC refer to Australian and New Zealand Standard Offence Classification, 2011 (cat. no. 1234.0).
20 The offence information presented in this issue for the reference periods 2008-09 to 2011-12 are based on the 2011 version of ANZSOC. Data presented in the 2007-08 issue of this publication are based on ASOC 1997 and are not comparable.
21 For ease of reading, some ANZSOC offence terms have been abbreviated throughout this publication. The term 'and related offences' has been omitted from the following ANZSOC offence names:
22 In addition, further ANZSOC offence terms have been abbreviated as follows:
23 For further information about ANSZOC offence classifications, refer to Appendix 1 and the Glossary.
National Offence Index (NOI), 2009
24 The NOI (published in National Offence Index, 2009 (cat. no. 1234.0.55.001)) is a tool which provides an ordinal ranking of all offence groups in ANZSOC 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 are proceeded against by police on more than one occasion in the reference period. Refer to Appendix 2 for a copy of the NOI.
Method of Proceeding Classification
25 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 type of legal action may change as further investigation is undertaken by police. Not all changes made during the reference period may be reflected in this collection. The method of proceeding classification is a hierarchical classification. For detailed information about the classification refer to Appendix 3. For information about the counting methodology used for methods of proceeding refer to paragraph 16.
26 Offender rates are expressed as the number of offenders per 100,000 of the ABS Estimated Resident Population (ERP). These rates generally accord with international and state and territory practice, and enable the comparison of the extent and type of offending across the individual states and territories, as well as a comparison over time.
27 Rates for the offender population are calculated using the ERP as at the midpoint of the reference period (i.e. 31 December 2011).
28 ERP used for the calculation of the 2011-12 reference period are preliminary rebased population estimates based on the 2011 Census of Population and Housing, while the ERP used for the calculation of rates for 2008-09, 2009-10 and 2010-11 are based on the 2006 Census. The ERP used in the calculation of these rates are for persons aged 10 years and over for all states and territories. Where rates are presented for an age group or a single year of age, the ERP used in the calculation of the rates refers to the relevant age group or single year of age.
29 For this collection, all estimates and projections for the Australian Capital Territory exclude Jervis Bay Territory. For more information on ERP, see Australian Demographic Statistics, December quarter, 2011 (cat. no. 3101.0).
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander offender rates
30 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander offender rates are expressed per 100,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population aged 10 years and over. The offender rates presented in this issue for reference periods 2008-09 to 2011-12 are derived from Series B projections of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population from the ABS Experimental Estimates and Projections, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, 1991 to 2021 (cat. no. 3238.0). These projections are based on data from the 2006 Census of Population and Housing and supersede the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander projections data used for the calculation of offender rates in the 2007-08 issue of this publication, which are based on 2001 Census of Population and Housing data. Final estimated population data and projections for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population based on the 2011 Census of Population and Housing data will not be available until 2014.
31 Series B is one of two main projection series (Series A and B) that have been published for the years 2007 to 2021. Both of these series assume an annual decline of 0.5% in fertility rates; an annual increase of 1% in paternity rates; constant interstate migration at levels observed in the 2006 Census; and zero net overseas migration with no arrivals and no departures. Two different assumptions were made about future Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander life expectancy at birth for Australia:
32 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 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population aged 10 years and over.
Age standardisation of offender rates
33 Age standardisation is a statistical method that adjusts crude rates to account for age differences between study populations.
34 There are differences in the age distributions between Australia's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous populations, with the former having a much younger population. In 2001, the proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 18 years and over was 55%, compared with 76% of non-Indigenous people (and 75% of the total Australian population). The diagram below illustrates the differences in age distributions.
35 ESTIMATED RESIDENT POPULATION, AUSTRALIA - 30 JUNE 2001
36 Due to the differing age profiles, using crude rates to examine differences between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous populations may lead to erroneous conclusions being drawn about variables that are correlated with age.
37 By making comparisons across age groups, we know that offender rates decrease in older age groups, that is, that the offender rate is correlated with age. If we compare overall offender rates between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous persons, it is likely that the offender rate in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population will be higher because of the larger proportion of young people in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population. Therefore, age standardised Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous offender rates have been presented in Table 2.10 of this publication (New South Wales data are presented in Table 2.22). Ratios of the rates are also included in these tables.
38 The standard population against which each population is age standardised is the total Australian Estimated Resident Population at 30 June 2001. The standard population is revised every ten years; the next revision will be based on data from the 2011 Census of Population and Housing after final rebased population estimates become available in June 2013.
ABORIGINAL AND TORRES STRAIT ISLANDER OFFENDERS
39 This publication presents data about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander offenders only for New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia and the Northern Territory for the reference periods 2008-09 to 2011-12. New South Wales data exclude offenders proceeded against under the NSW Young Offenders Act 1997 (see paragraphs 45-47). Based on ABS assessment, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander data for offenders for other jurisdictions are not of sufficient quality and/or do not meet ABS standards for self-identification for national reporting in 2011-12.
40 As the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander status of an offender is based on self-identification by the individual who comes into contact with police, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander identification is difficult to ascertain where police proceed by way of a summons, and/or a penalty/infringement notice as these methods do not usually provide an opportunity for police to ask individuals to self-identify. The proportion of offenders proceeded against by police by way of a penalty/infringement notice during 2011-12 was:
41 To address the issue of high levels of 'not stated' Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander status due to the relatively high proportions of offenders proceeded against by a penalty notice, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander status data in this publication for all four available states and territories exclude those offenders who were proceeded against by a penalty/infringement notice. This impacts on the overall proportion of offenders with a 'not stated' Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander status. For 2011-12, the impact of removing penalty notices on the proportion of not stated values for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander status was as follows:
42 The proportion of offenders with a 'not stated' Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander status varies by offence type.
43 The use of penalty/infringement notices by police is most prevalent for Public order offences, Illicit drug offences, Offences against justice and Miscellaneous offences. The removal of those offenders who were primarily proceeded against via a penalty/infringement notice results in reduced offender counts and rates for these four offence divisions. Total Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander counts and rates are also affected slightly due to the loss of some offender counts for those penalty/infringement notices where there is a known Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander status.
44 National offender statistics are compiled in order to maximise comparability across states and territories. This collection has been designed to facilitate comparisons of states and territories through 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 differences in recording practices, legislation or policy to combat particular types of crime.
New South Wales
45 The NSW Young Offenders Act 1997 commenced on 6 April 1998. This Act is aimed at diverting young offenders away from the formal justice system. It achieves this through warnings, cautions and youth justice conferences. Under Section 66 of this Act, the disclosure of records created about these offenders is prohibited except in circumstances explicitly stated (such as to the child, a person responsible for the child, a youth liaison officer, an authorised officer of the Department of the Attorney-General and Justice and persons employed by the Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research). As a consequence, data for offenders who were proceeded against under the NSW Young Offenders Act 1997 were not able to be provided to the ABS and are not included in data presented for New South Wales in this publication.
46 Data presented for New South Wales comprise the following:
47 Data for this state are not comparable with other states and territories and are presented separately in this publication.
48 Verbal Warning and Compliance Notice were two non-court proceedings included for the first time in 2009-10. They relate mainly to licensing enforcement (i.e. liquor, security industry, firearms). The Verbal Warning is a less formal process which informs the person that some breach(es) of regulations need to be corrected. The Compliance Notice is a written warning with a stipulated time period within which the breach(es) must be corrected.
49 From September 2011, the offence 'continue intoxicated and disorderly' was added to the list of offences for which a penalty notice may be issued.
50 Prior to 2009-10, data for most Victorian Penalty Infringement Notices (PINs) were not available, as data were collected and maintained by a third party and not by Victoria Police. As a result, offender counts and rates for Victoria and Australia were underestimated. PINs data were supplied for the first time in the 2009-10 cycle for both 2008-09 and 2009-10 and have been provided for subsequent years. Caution should be used with comparing the 2009-10 and subsequent publications with previous versions.
51 A trial Infringement Notice Project commenced in Victoria in July 2008 following the introduction of the Infringements and Other Acts Amendment Act 2008. This Act lists a number of additional offences which are able to be dealt with by way of an infringement notice by police. In addition, police have the ability to issue new official warning notices for most offences in the trial. This trial is ongoing. The offences include the following:
52 The Crimes (Family Violence) Act was repealed on 8 December 2008 and replaced by the Family Violence Protection Act which allows for easier and broader prosecution of family violence orders, with expected associated increases in the number of breaches (ANZSOC Division 15).
53 For Public order offences, in comparison with other states and territories, Queensland Police make greater use of arrest, summons, cautions, and notices to appear as an action against an offender, and only limited use of infringement/penalty notices. This results in Queensland's police proceedings data having the highest proportion of overall proceedings which are police-initiated court proceedings, however the use of penalty notices has been increasing over the last couple of years.
54 The issuing of infringement notices or 'e-ticketing' by Queensland Police for public nuisance offences commenced from 8 November 2010. These offences include: public nuisance, public urination, obstruct police officer (in relation to the aforementioned public nuisance or public urination) and contravene requirement of a police officer (in relation to stating correct name and address regarding the above).
55 Queensland has a relatively high number of unique offenders with an unknown principal offence. This is due to the Queensland Police offender system containing reported offence details which are quite broad in their description, and where this occurs the offence may be deemed too broad to code to ANZSOC, resulting in it being listed as an unknown offence within ANZSOC.
56 Where an offender has co-occurring offences at the ANZSOC division level supplementary code of 0800 Theft and 0900 Fraud (which are unranked on the NOI), this may result in the misallocation of principal offence to Divisions 8 Theft or 9 Fraud and deception instead of being allocated an unknown principal offence. For further information about the allocation of principal offence, refer to paragraphs 13-15. The level of miscoding is minor and not considered to be significant.
57 Caution should be exercised when interpreting data on counts of offenders and proceedings 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 (CENs) and drug diversions are stored on separate infringement databases and this information cannot be linked to other databases that store information about offenders who were proceeded against by police. 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 as two separate offenders (i.e. counted twice), which may result in an over count of the total number of offenders, rates and police proceedings for South Australia. Furthermore, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander status data (via the Standard Indigenous Question) are not captured for drug diversions or CENs and are recorded as 'not stated'.
58 General Expiation Notices (GEN) may be issued for Public order offences and Offences against justice and are stored on an infringement database that cannot be linked with other police databases that contain information about offenders who were proceeded against by police. As a result, offenders with a principal offence of Public order offences or Offences against justice may be overstated as an offender may be counted twice if they have committed an offence in addition to the GEN during the same reference period.
59 Western Australia police utilise two separate offender recording systems for police purposes. Data for this collection are sourced from both systems. Data were successfully matched between the two systems to enable the production of offender counts and associated demographic and offence information. Data on police proceedings however could not be matched between these two systems resulting in an over count in the number of proceedings. Therefore, data about police proceedings are not published. This affects Tables 2.6, 2.7 and Chapter 3 and has resulted in national data not being available for police proceedings and the number of times an offender is proceeded against by police.
60 During 2009-10, legislation that was introduced in 2007 relating to the consumption of legal substances in regulated spaces was expanded to include a greater area of public space. Additional infringement notices and/or cautions were issued during this period, resulting in an increase in Public order offences between 2008-09 and 2009-10.
61 Additional infringement notices relating to a range of offences coded to Miscellaneous offences (ANZSOC Division 16) were made available during 2009-10 for both the 2008-09 and 2009-10 reference periods. These included a range of regulatory fishing, recreational boating, and littering offences. In 2009-10, a change of focus in enforcing a range of different offences resulted in a reduction in the issuing of infringement notices for some offence types.
62 Benchmarking of Liquor Infringement Notices for the first time in 2010-11 resulted in an increase in Public order offences between 2009-10 and 2010-11. This followed an increase in Public order offences between 2008-09 and 2009-10 due to the increasing use of Liquor Infringement Notices by Tasmanian police.
63 In December 2010, Tasmania introduced a new law of smoking in a smoke free area. This resulted in an increased use of penalty notices or penalty notices - cautions for Public order offences.
64 From 4 April 2011, Tasmanian Police are only able to proceed against youth for minor drug offences under the Youth Justice Act 1997, rather than give Illicit Drug Diversion Initiative cautions and diversions. This resulted in an increased number of court actions for youth offenders for Illicit drug offences between 2009-10 and 2010-11.
65 For the Recorded Crime Offenders 2010-11 collection, Tasmanian Police undertook a review of their ANZSOC mappings and implemented coding changes that impacted on some principal offence divisions for the 2009-10 and 2010-11 reference periods, most notably Divisions 04 Dangerous or negligent acts endangering persons, Division 07 Unlawful entry with intent, Division 08 Theft and related offences and Division 13 Public order offences. For details about these coding changes, refer to the Explanatory Notes of the 2010-11 issue of this publication.
66 Further minor coding changes were made in 2011-12, with the most notable impact being the movement of some offenders previously coded to ANZSOC 1322 Liquor and tobacco offences to ANZSOC 1541 Resist or hinder government official (excluding police officer, justice official or government security officer) and ANZSOC 1562 Resist or hinder police officer or justice official.
67 The Northern Territory government has a policy of a zero tolerance approach to antisocial behaviour. The broad range of approaches available to monitor and respond to antisocial behaviour include alcohol management and focussing on alcohol and substance abuse services, return to country, patrols and engagement, CCTV and youth programs. Northern Territory Police use proactive and targeted policing strategies and continue to focus patrols at hot spots during peak times where and when Public order offences occur. Northern Territory Police continue to work with the broader community through forums to address key public order issues.
68 Offence data for juvenile offenders are predominantly coded to an ANZSOC division level supplementary code (for example, 0800 Theft and related offences). A number of the ANZSOC division level supplementary codes are unranked on the National Offence Index (NOI). Where an offender has co-occurring offences coded to ANZSOC division level supplementary codes which are unranked on the NOI, this may result in misallocation of principal offence to an ANZSOC division (impacting on divisions 4, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13 and 15) instead of being allocated an unknown principal offence. For further information about the allocation of principal offence, refer to paragraphs 13-15. The level of miscoding is minor and not considered to be significant.
69 There is a small proportion of offenders that come into contact with police who are unable to provide their exact date of birth. In these situations, where only a birth year is provided, police may allocate a nominal birth date or alternatively, police may record the offenders date of birth as unknown.
Australian Capital Territory
70 Criminal Infringement Notices (CINs) data have been included in this release for the first time. The issuing of CINs was introduced on 24 December 2009 for a range of public order/minor street offences, including defacing premises (private property), defacing premises (public property), urinating in public, failing to comply with noise abatement direction and consuming liquor in a prescribed public place. The use of CINs is aimed at having an immediate deterrent effect on an offender while providing an alternative to court action. These offences are not recorded on the primary Australian Capital Territory police recording system and were not previously available for inclusion in this collection. The 2009-10 and 2010-11 data have been revised to include CINs data for this release.
71 As the CINs data are recorded on a separate system, this information cannot be linked to other databases that store information about offenders who were proceeded against by police. Therefore if an offender has committed an offence in addition to a CIN then that offender may be counted as two separate offenders (i.e. counted twice). This may result in an over count of the total number of offenders, rates and police proceedings for the Australian Capital Territory.
72 Revised data for 2009-10 and 2010-11 were received from the Australian Capital Territory to incorporate CINs data for the first time. Refer to paragraphs 70-71 for further information.
COMPARISONS TO OTHER ABS DATA
Recorded Crime - Victims
73 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, a number of limitations exist between the Recorded Crime - Offenders collection and the Recorded Crime - Victims collection:
74 Despite these differences, broad comparisons can be made between the two collections.
75 For more detailed information about data comparability in relation to the Recorded Crime - Victims collection and more generally about using administrative and survey data, refer to the information paper, Measuring Victims of Crime: A Guide to Using Administrative and Survey Data, June 2011 (cat. no. 4500.0.55.001).
76 For more information about the Recorded Crime - Victims collection, refer to Recorded Crime - Victims, Australia (cat. no. 4510.0).
77 Data relating to the number of police-initiated court 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 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 defendant's 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 refer to Criminal Courts, Australia (cat. no. 4513.0).
78 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.
79 Special tabulations may be able to be produced on request to meet individual user requirements. For further information contact the National Centre for Crime and Justice Statistics by email at
80 Other ABS publications which may be of interest include:
81 Current publications and other products released by the ABS are available from the ABS web site <http://www.abs.gov.au>. The ABS web site includes a release calendar detailing products to be released in the next six months. 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 web site. The National Centre for Crime and Justice Statistics can be contacted by email at <firstname.lastname@example.org>.
82 Non-ABS sources which may be of interest include:
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This page last updated 27 February 2013