NATIONAL CRIME STATISTICS
National crime statistics aim to provide indicators of the level and nature of crime victimisation in Australia and a basis for measuring change over time. When an incident of crime victimisation occurs, there are a number of ways in which this can be measured and a number of stages where a measurement can be taken; from the time that a person perceives they have been a victim through to reporting to police and the laying of charges. From among a range of possible ways of measuring crime, there are two major sources of statistics produced by the ABS that can inform the user about crime victimisation. The first of these is a measure of crimes reported to and recorded by police; the second is direct reports from members of the public about their experiences of crime as collected in household surveys conducted by the ABS. Neither of these sources will provide a definitive measure of crime victimisation, but together they provide a more comprehensive picture of victimisation than either measure alone. Both sources have a number of limitations, however, of which users should be aware.
Recorded crime statistics are the result of incidents coming to police attention and a subsequent decision-making process carried out by police in accordance with the criminal law. As such they are subject to different legislation, rules of operation and procedures in different jurisdictions. Fluctuations in recorded crime may also be a reflection of changes in community attitudes to reporting crime rather than a change in the incidence of criminal behaviour.
A complementary picture of the nature and extent of crime comes from crime victimisation surveys. One of the primary reasons for conducting victimisation surveys is that many victims of crime do not report their experiences to the police, and so are not counted in police data. Victimisation surveys provide information about the broader community experience of crime, including the volume of crime that is not officially recorded. Crime victimisation surveys are suitable for measuring crimes against individuals (or households) who are aware of and recall the incident and how it happened, and who are willing to relate what they know. These surveys allow crime information to be related to personal and household characteristics, and facilitate the study of patterns of victimisation over time and across crime categories. Not all types of crime are suitable for measurement by household surveys. No reliable victim-based information can be obtained about crimes where there is no specific victim (e.g. trafficking in narcotics) or where the victim is deceased (e.g. murder). Crimes of which the victim may not be aware cannot be measured effectively; some instances of fraud and many types of attempted crimes fall into this category.
In addition to the periodic ABS crime victimisation survey, the ABS from time to time may conduct more in-depth surveys about particular aspects of crime victimisation that are of a more sensitive nature, for example, violence. Different methodologies may be used in these instances which may yield differing results to other ABS crime victimisation collections. For more information on comparisons with other surveys, refer to Information Paper: Measuring Crime Victimisation, Australia - The Impact of Different Collection Methodologies, 2002
Crime and safety
The National Crime and Safety Survey (NCSS), conducted by the ABS during April to July 2005, obtained information on the level of crime victimisation in the community. Information was collected from individuals and households about their experiences of selected crimes, whether these crimes were reported to police and crime-related risk factors in the 12 months prior to the survey.
Households and individuals experience a diverse range of crimes. However, only the more serious crimes were covered by the NCSS. These included household crimes comprising break-in, attempted break-in and motor vehicle theft; and personal crimes comprising robbery, assault and sexual assault.
Victimisation prevalence rates used in this section refer to the proportion of persons or households experiencing at least one victimisation event in the 12 months prior to the survey, in a given population, expressed as a percentage of that population.
Crimes affecting households and persons
In the 12 months prior to the 2005 survey, 3.3% of households had at least one break-in to their home, garage or shed, and 2.6% found signs of at least one attempted break-in (table 13.4). Furthermore, 1% of households experienced at least one motor vehicle theft.
An estimated 0.4% of all people aged 15 years and over reported they were victims of at least one robbery and 4.8% of those aged 15 years and over were victims of at least one assault in the 12 months prior to the survey. Over the same period, an estimated 0.3% of people aged 18 years and over reported that they were victims of at least one sexual assault.
Compared with the previous survey (2002), decreases were observed in victimisation prevalence rates for household crimes (down from 8.9% in 2002 to 6.2% in 2005). There were no statistically significant differences in victimisation prevalence rates for personal crime between 2002 and 2005.
Reporting to police
13.4 VICTIMS OF CRIME - 2005
Victimisation prevalence rate(a)
|Type of crime |
|Attempted break-in |
|Break-in/attempted break-in(b) |
|Motor vehicle theft |
|Sexual assault |
|(a) The number of victims of an offence in a given population as a percentage of that population. |
|(b) Includes households that were victims of break-in, or attempted break-in, or both. Therefore, these figures are less than the sum of the break-in and attempted break-in figures. |
|(c) Total household crime is less than the sum of the components as households may be victims of more than one type of offence. |
|(d) Persons aged 15 years and over. |
|(e) Persons aged 18 years and over. |
|(f) Females aged 18 years and over. |
|(g) Total personal crime is less than the sum of the components as persons may be victims of more than one type of offence. |
|Source: Crime and Safety, Australia (4509.0). |
Crime is not always reported to the police, with many factors influencing whether or not a crime is reported. In particular, rates of reporting to the police vary depending on the type of offence, as shown in graph 13.5. People are much more likely to report crimes against property particularly when items are stolen or damaged to the police (a requirement for any associated insurance claim) than crimes against the person (i.e. assault, sexual assault or robbery) or attempted crimes. In 2005, rates of reporting to police varied from 31% for victims of assault and 31% for household victims of an attempted break-in to 90% for household victims of motor vehicle theft.
13.5 Reporting rates(a)
Overall, around 70% of people aged 15 years and over perceived that there were one or more problems with crime and/or public nuisance issues in their neighbourhoods. The most commonly perceived problem was dangerous/noisy driving (40% perceived this as a problem). Other commonly perceived problems were house burglaries (33%) and vandalism (25%) (graph 13.6).
13.6 Neighbourhood problems -
Crimes recorded by police
Table 13.7 shows the number of victims of criminal offences in 2006 as recorded by Australian police.
Compared with 2005, the number of victims recorded by Australian state and territory police agencies in 2006 decreased for motor vehicle theft and other theft, as well as for attempted murder and kidnapping/abduction. The offence categories recording the largest declines were attempted murder (down 11%) and motor vehicle theft (down 7%). Conversely, there were increases in the number of victims of blackmail/extortion (up 10%) and murder (up 8%).
Graph 13.8 shows the percentage change between 2005 and 2006 in the number of victims of selected offences.
13.8 Victims, selected offences,
percentage change in number -
2005 to 2006 -
2005 to 2006
In 2006, the Australian victimisation rates for selected offence categories were:
- murder - 1.4 victims per 100,000 population
- attempted murder - 1.2 victims per 100,000 population
- kidnapping/abduction - 3.5 victims per 100,000 population
- robbery - 84 victims per 100,000 population
- blackmail/extortion - 2.1 victims per 100,000 population.
Selected household crimes continued a declining trend in victimisation; motor vehicle theft (365 victims per 100,000 population) had the lowest rate since national reporting began in 1993. The victimisation rate for other theft was the lowest since national reporting began for that offence in 1995 (2,512 victims per 100,000 population).
Age of victims
Over 40% of victims of murder (119 people) and 52% of attempted murder victims (124 people) were aged 25-44 years. A further 29% (81 people) of murder victims were aged 45 years and over.
In 2006, 34% (247 people) of victims of kidnapping/abduction were aged 0-14 years and a further 34% (246 people) were aged 15-24 years. Those aged 25-34 years accounted for 15% of all kidnapping/abductions.
More than 45% (6,674 people) of victims of robbery were aged 15-24 years, followed by those aged 25-34 years (20% or 2,953 people).
People in the age group 25-44 years accounted for 44% (163 people) of the total blackmail/extortion victims during 2006, compared with 24% for those aged 45-64 years (87 people).
Weapons used against victims of crime
13.9 VICTIMISATION RATES OF SELECTED CRIMES(a)(b) - 2006
|Age group (years) |
|65 and over |
|All ages(d) |
|65 and over |
|All ages(d) |
|65 and over |
|All ages(d) |
|- nil or rounded to zero (including null cells) |
|(a) Victims per 100,000 persons. |
|(b) As recorded by police in all jurisdictions. |
|(c) Refers to person victims only and, therefore, does not include organisations as victims. |
|(d) Includes victims for whom age was not specified. |
|(e) Includes victims for whom sex was not specified. |
|Source: Recorded Crime - Victims, Australia (4510.0). |
In 2006, a weapon was used in 74% of attempted murders, 63% of murders and 44% of robberies (table 13.10 and graph 13.11). A knife was the most common type of weapon used in committing these offences. Over a third (34%) of murder victims, 35% of attempted murder victims, 22% of the victims of robbery and 10% of kidnapping/abduction victims were subjected to an offence involving a knife. A firearm was involved in a quarter of the offences (25%) of attempted murder, 17% of murder and 7% of robbery offences.
13.10 VICTIMS(a), By use of weapon in commission of selected offences - 2006
|Weapon used |
|Other weapon |
|No weapon used(d) |
|- nil or rounded to zero (including null cells) |
|(a) As recorded by police in all jurisdictions. |
|(b) For the offence of robbery, a victim may be a person or an organisation. |
|(c) Includes weapon use not further defined. |
|(d) Includes unknown or not stated weapon use. |
|Source: Recorded Crime - Victims, Australia (4510.0). |13.11 Victims,
weapon used in commission of offence -
This page last updated 3 June 2010