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4500.0 - Crime and Justice News, 2007  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 19/07/2007   
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DEVELOPMENTS IN STATISTICS

NATIONAL CRIME RECORDING STANDARD

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) is working with police agencies to develop a National Crime Recording Standard (NCRS), to further improve the national comparability of the Recorded Crime Victims collection. The standard aims to develop a uniformly implemented set of guidelines and scenarios to further improve consistency in recording across jurisdictions.

    Since the start of the collection there has been further development of the standards to improve national comparability, including additional classifications and counting rules for use during and post extraction of crime victims data from each jurisdiction. However, over time there have also been significant changes in police crime recording systems, business rules and legislation resulting in potential differences between the national and state recording of crime statistics. To ensure that the level of comparability within the national crime victims collection is maintained, this new classification is being developed to guide consistent recording of criminal incidents.
      Since November 2005, state and territory police services and the ABS have been collaborating to produce a set of counting rules and a manual of scenarios to guide the consistency. These agreed rules and manual were presented in September 2006 to the National Crime Statistics Unit Board of Management, along with assessments by each state and territory of the estimated cost and timing impacts of introducing the NCRS.
        Bilateral meetings between the ABS and liaison officers in each jurisdiction have since been conducted to further understand issues in relation to implementing the NCRS. A number of jurisdictions are also conducting separate assessments and the outcomes of these will be provided to the Board at its next meeting in September 2007.


        NATIONAL INFORMATION DEVELOPMENT PLAN

        The release of the Information paper: National Information Development Plan for Crime and Justice (cat. no. 4520.0) on 21 June 2005, marked a step towards the expansion and improvement of statistical information that is directly linked to stakeholders' needs. The NIDP provides an agreed understanding of Australia's statistical priorities as they relate to the field of crime and justice, and establishes a shared responsibility between the ABS and major users and data custodians for collaborative work to meet these priorities. The Plan also provides for progress to be reviewed annually by a Steering Committee. The first NIDP Steering Committee meeting in November 2005 resulted in the formation of two working groups to progress family and domestic violence statistical information (Priority 7.2) and national spatial data requirements (Priority 12.2).

        The family/domestic violence working group has explored opportunities for collaborative work across the health and welfare and crime and justice fields to improve statistical information available for policy and research. The group are gathering information about the national data needs of policy makers and are developing a conceptual framework to inform the development of statistics in the field of family/domestic violence. Following this, an inventory of data sources will be collated. The short term goal of this work is to identify the gaps in available statistical information and to make recommendations that will improve the evidence base.

        A working group met in June 2006 to consider national spatial data requirements. The aim of the meeting was to discuss the main areas of interest in relation to spatial data for the Crime sector and to identify strategies to meet those needs. The group decided to proceed towards the production of materials to demonstrate potential benefits to crime prevention if nationally comparable data were to be made available at smaller geographic areas, such as local government areas.

        The second NIDP steering committee meeting was held in November 2006. Members agreed that, for 2007, the priority is to progress statistical
        developments that commenced in 2006 in the areas of family/domestic violence, recidivism indicators and spatial data.

        The NCCJS is also continuing work to further the other activities of the 72 identified in the Plan.


        CRIMINAL COURTS DATA DICTIONARY

        The NCCJS released the National Criminal Courts Data Dictionary, 2006 (cat. no. 4527.0) on the ABS website on 1 February 2007. The data dictionary is endorsed by the National Criminal Courts Statistics Unit (NCCSU) Board of Management. This version updates the National Criminal Courts Data Dictionary previously released on the National Statistical Service (NSS) website <http://www.nss.gov.au> in October 2005. The vast majority of the content in the 2006 publication remains consistent with the 2005 publication, with changes made to reflect ABS publishing standards.

        The data dictionary is a reference document that aims to maximise comparability within and across individual collections of criminal courts data and provide a resource for agencies seeking to align their statistical input. It defines national data items and outlines methods for the use of 27 data elements and concepts that underpin the ABS and Council of Australian Governments (COAG) criminal courts collections. The COAG criminal court collection contributes to the Justice Chapter of the annual Report on Government Services produced by the Steering Committee for the Review of Government, Service Provision.


        JUVENILE JUSTICE IN AUSTRALIA

        On 26 March 2007 the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) released a report on Juvenile justice in Australia 2004-05, based on data from the Juvenile Justice National Minimum Data Set (JJNMDS).

        The scope of the JJNMDS is restricted to young people under juvenile justice department supervision and management, including pre-sentence and sentenced supervision both within the community and in detention. Elements of the juvenile justice system that do not require juvenile justice supervision (such as police and court actions) are not included in the scope of the JJNMDS. Data about persons adjudicated under the Criminal Children's Court can be found in the ABS publication Criminal Courts, Australia (cat. no. 4513.0).

        The JJNMDS is a project run, under the auspices of the Australasian Juvenile Justice Administrators (AJJA), by the AIHW, which brings together state and territory juvenile justice data into a national dataset. The JJNMDS aims to be a common resource that can facilitate comparison of juvenile justice policies across states and territories. The ABS is involved in this project through membership of the Juvenile Justice National Minimum Data Set Subcommittee.

        This is the second report on the collection and presents data for 2004-05, as well as analyses of trends in community-based supervision and detention over the five years since 2000-01. It includes data on the characteristics of young people under supervision such as age, sex and indigenous status, and their patterns of supervision.

        In 2004-05 there were 12,649 young people under some kind of supervision within the Australian juvenile justice system - a 7% drop since 2000-01. The report also found that the younger people were when they entered supervision the more likely they were to re-enter the juvenile justice system during subsequent years.


        CHILDREN'S COURTS

        Children's Courts data are provided on an experimental basis in the 2004-05 and 2005-06 Criminal Courts, Australia (cat. no. 4513.0) publications. These statistics describe the main characteristics of defendants finalised in the Children's Courts, including information on the offences and sentences associated with those defendants. Children's Courts data are now published for all states and territories except New South Wales.

        Data on the characteristics of defendants finalised in the Australian Capital Territory were included in the 2005-06 issue for the first time.

        Further development work will be undertaken in conjunction with each state and territory in order to address and improve quality and coverage issues of the Children's Courts statistics. For more information on the status of the Children's Courts Collection Development, queries may be sent to <crime.justice@abs.gov.au>.


        CONFIDENTIALITY

        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. As part of the ABS, NCCJS outputs are subject to the requirements of the Act.

        On 16 February 2006 the ABS released Research Paper: A Review of Confidentiality Protections for Statistical Tables (Methodology Advisory Committee), Jun 2005, (cat. no. 1352.0.55.072) . This paper describes the threat to confidentiality posed by table differencing, and reviews and comments on a number of techniques that could be used to develop a tabular confidentiality system that protects against differencing.

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