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The number of victims of crimes recorded by police decreased between 2001 and 2002 for almost all of the offence categories listed in table 11.7. Declines were particularly noticeable for those offence categories related to the taking of property (such as robbery, unlawful entry with intent and theft offences), as indicated by graph 11.8. The largest proportional decreases were recorded for victims of armed robbery (30%), driving causing death (21%) and motor vehicle theft (19%). Increases were evident for four offence categories: manslaughter (29%), sexual assault (6%), assault (5%) and murder (2%).
Graph 11.8 shows the change in the number of victims of crime for selected offence categories.
Based on reports to police, males were more likely than females to be victims of personal crime, with the exception of sexual assault and kidnapping/abduction (graph 11.9). The recorded sexual assault victimisation rate for females (144.5 female victims per 100,000 females) was more than four times the male victimisation rate (33.1 male victims per 100,000 males).
As table 11.7 shows, assault is the most common category of offence recorded against the person. Police recorded 159,548 victims of assault during 2002, a 5% increase over the previous year and 28% higher than in 1997. The assault victimisation rate in 2002 was 809.7 victims per 100,000 persons, up from 784.5 in 2001 and 672.2 per 100,000 persons in 1997. In fact, the 2002 recorded assault victimisation rate is the highest it has been since national assault statistics were first collected in 1995.
In 2002, the recorded sexual assault victimisation rate also reached its highest level since national sexual assault records began in 1993. The number of cases of sexual assault recorded in 2002 (17,850) represents an increase of 24% over the number recorded in 1997 (14,353). The 2002 sexual assault victimisation rate (90.6 victims per 100,000 persons) is 17% higher than the rate in 1997 (77.5 per 100,000 persons).
In 2002, there were 318 victims of murder, representing a rate of 1.6 victims per 100,000 persons. The annual recorded counts for murder victims in Australia have fluctuated over the period 1997 to 2002, partly due to some specific incidents: in South Australia in 1999, where 12 bodies were discovered at Snowtown; in Western Australia in 1999, where 9 victims resulted from 2 family murder/suicide incidents; and in Queensland in 2000, where 15 victims of the fire at Childers were recorded. Despite this fluctuation in the number of murder victims, the rate has remained relatively stable over the last six years, ranging from 1.5 to 1.8 murder victims per 100,000 persons.
Unlawful entry with intent (UEWI) and other theft are the most frequently occurring property offences. The UEWI victimisation rate decreased by 12% between 1997 and 2002 to be 2,001 victims per 100,000 persons in 2002, and is the lowest rate since national records began in 1993. The 2002 rate for other theft was 3,448 victims per 100,000 persons, 4% lower than in 2001, but representing a 20% increase since 1997. The victimisation rate for motor vehicle theft is at its lowest rate since 1993. The 2002 motor vehicle theft rate of 575 victims per 100,000 persons was 20% lower than in the previous year and 18% lower than in 1997.
Age and sex of victims
Young people aged 15-24 years experienced the highest levels of recorded crime victimisation for the selected offence categories (table 11.10). Males experienced higher recorded assault rates across all age groups. For the offence category of assault, the rates for all 15-24 year olds were approximately twice the national average for all age groups. Robbery and sexual assault rates for the 15-19 year age group were more than three times the national average. The robbery rate for 20-24 year olds was more than twice the national average. Males and females aged 65 and over experienced the lowest level of crime victimisation for the offence categories of assault, sexual assault and kidnapping/abduction.
Weapons used against victims of crime
Of the offences shown in table 11.11, a weapon was most likely to have been used in an attempted murder (75%) and murder (53%), and least likely in sexual assault offences (2%). With the exception of assault, a knife was the most common type of weapon used and was involved in 35% of attempted murders, 23% of murders and 19% of robberies. A firearm was involved in 22% of attempted murders, 13% of murders and 6% of robberies. The most common use of a syringe as a weapon was for the offence categories of robbery (350 victims) and assault (161 victims).
Between 1993 and 2002 the proportion of murders, attempted murders and robberies involving the use of a weapon decreased (graph 11.12). The proportion of murders involving the use of a weapon peaked in 1996 at 78% while the proportion of attempted murders involving the use of a weapon peaked in 1997 at 87%.
The proportion of robberies where a weapon was used has fluctuated from 36% in 1994 and 1995 to 46% in 1998. Since 1998, this proportion has declined to 37%. For those robberies that involved the use of a weapon, the proportion of offences involving firearms decreased from 37% in 1993 to 15% in 2002.