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1301.0 - Year Book Australia, 2004  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 27/02/2004   
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Contents >> Crime and justice >> Crime and safety

The ABS Crime and Safety Survey is a household survey that has been conducted nationally in 1975, 1983, 1993, 1998 and 2002. The survey provides data on selected household crimes and personal crimes against persons aged 15 years and over for the 12-month period prior to the survey, and the risk factors associated with crime victimisation. Similar surveys have been conducted annually in New South Wales since 1990 (except for 1993, 1998 and 2002); in Victoria in 1994 and 1995; in Queensland in 1995; in South Australia in 1991, 1995 and 2000; in Western Australia in 1991, 1995, 1999 and 2000; in Tasmania in 1998; and in the Australian Capital Territory in 1995.

Crimes affecting households and persons

Households and individuals in Australia experience a diverse range of crimes. The ABS Crime and Safety Survey focuses on those categories of more serious crime that affect the largest number of people: household break-in, motor vehicle theft, assault (including sexual assault) and robbery.

In the 12 months ended April 2002, 4.7% of households had at least one break-in to their home, garage or shed and 3.4% found signs of at least one attempted break-in (table 11.4). Less than 2% of households experienced at least one motor vehicle theft.

An estimated 0.6% of persons aged 15 years and over reported that they were victims of robbery and 4.7% of persons aged 15 years and over were victims of assault in the 12 months prior to April 2002. An estimated 0.4% of females aged 18 years and over reported that they were victims of sexual assault in the same time period.

Compared with the preceding survey (1998), small increases were found in the victimisation prevalence rate for assault (increasing from 4.3% in 1998 to 4.7% in 2002) and for total personal crimes (increasing from 4.8% in 1998 to 5.3% in 2002). Victimisation prevalence rates for household crimes remained fairly stable.

11.4 VICTIMS OF CRIME - 12 months prior to April 2002

Victimisation prevalence rate(a)

Type of crime

Attempted break-in
Break-in/attempted break-in(c)
Motor vehicle theft
Sexual assault

(a) The number of victims of an offence in a given population as a percentage of that population.
(b) Households.
(c) Break-in/attempted break-in includes households that were victims of either a break-in or an attempted break-in, or both. Therefore the figures for break-in/attempted break-in are less than the sum of the break-in and attempted break-in figures.
(d) Total household crimes is less than the sum of the components as households may be victims of more than one type of offence.
(e) Persons aged 15 years and over.
(f) Females aged 18 years and over.
(g) Total personal crimes 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, April 2002 (4509.0).

Reporting to police

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 11.5. People are much more likely to report crimes against property to the police (a requirement for any associated insurance claim) than crimes against the person (i.e. assault or sexual assault). In 2002, reporting rates varied from 20% for female victims of sexual assault to 95% for household victims of motor vehicle theft.

Graph - 11.5 Reporting rate to police of most recent incident - 12 months prior to April 2002

Feelings of safety

Approximately 80% of people surveyed in 2002 indicated they felt safe or very safe when at home alone during the day, compared with 69% feeling this way after dark. Conversely, 4% of people felt unsafe or very unsafe when at home alone during the day, compared with 10% at home alone after dark (graph 11.6). Perceptions of safety varied between males and females, particularly after dark, when 78% of males compared with 61% of females felt safe or very safe when at home alone. Feelings of safety also varied according to age, with 42% of persons aged 15-19 years feeling very safe when at home alone during the day compared with 23% of persons aged 65 years and over.

Graph - 11.6 Feelings of safety when at home alone - April 2002

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