DATA ABOUT THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM
This collection of statistics about offenders in the criminal justice system complements collections about victims, defendants appearing in the criminal courts and people under the supervision of corrective services agencies. The offenders collection assists in providing a more complete view of victims and offenders as they move through the four main stages of the criminal justice system. Information about juveniles under justice supervision is available from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.
Data from the national ABS collections are published in the following sources:
Linkages and limitations
- Recorded Crime - Victims, Australia (cat. no. 4510.0)
- Criminal Courts, Australia (cat. no. 4513.0)
- Prisoners in Australia (cat. no. 4517.0)
- Corrective Services, Australia (cat. no. 4512.0)
Although snapshot views of both victims and offenders who come into contact with the criminal justice system are available, the data sourced from these collections are not inter-linked and therefore not strictly comparable across the collections. They do not, for instance, enable the matching of a victim, offender or a specific incident through the criminal justice system. It is currently not possible to identify the same offender moving through the justice system nationally across the police, courts and corrective services sectors due to limitations in the availability of unique person identifiers.
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;
- the 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 the instances of 'victimless' crime, 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).
Despite these differences, broad comparisons can be made between the two collections.