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1301.0 - Year Book Australia, 2012  
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 24/05/2012   
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Crime and justice

NATIONAL CRIME STATISTICS

National crime statistics aim to provide indicators of the level and nature of crime victimisation in Australia and a basis for assessing 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 in criminal justice system processes where a measurement can be taken. Stages progress from the time that a person perceives they have been a victim, through to reporting to police and the laying of charges. From a range of possible ways of measuring crime, there are two major sources of statistics produced by the ABS that can inform users about crime victimisation. The first is a measure of crimes reported to, and recorded by, police. The second source 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 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 personal and household 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 therefore 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.

The ABS conducts an annual Crime Victimisation Survey from which results are currently available for 2008–09 and 2009–10. In addition, 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, the Personal Safety Survey which provides estimates of the prevalence of violence in society.

Different data sources, for example, administrative data compared with survey data, may yield different results. This is also the case for different survey methodologies, whereby surveys may differ in sample design, collection mode and data item definitions. Therefore, particular care should be taken when interpreting crime and justice statistics. For further information, please refer to Measuring Victims of Crime: A Guide to Using Administrative and Survey Data (4500.0.55.001).


CRIME VICTIMISATION

The Crime Victimisation Survey is an annual survey conducted using the ABS Multipurpose Household Survey (MPHS). The survey collects data about victims aged 15 years and over for a selected range of personal and household offences including assault, threatened assault, sexual assault (persons aged 18 years and over), robbery, break-in, attempted break-in, motor vehicle theft, theft from a motor vehicle and malicious property damage. The survey also provides information about the characteristics of victims, the characteristics of their most recent incident and whether the incidents were reported to police.

Table 13.4 shows a significant decrease in victimisation rates from 2008–09 to 2009–10 for the person offences of threatened assault (4.2% in 2008–09 to 3.4% in 2009–10) and robbery (0.6% in 2008–09 to 0.4% in 2009–10). Approximately half (51%) of all incidents of physical assault and a third (37%) of all incidents of sexual assault were reported to the police in 2009–10. Robbery had the highest reporting rate of the personal crimes at 61%, a significant increase on the previous year (39%).

Significant decreases in victimisation rates from 2008–09 to 2009–10 were seen across almost all of the household crimes, except break-in and motor vehicle theft. Malicious property damage had the highest victimisation rate in 2009–10 at 9%. Reporting rates for household crimes were generally higher than those of personal crimes, particularly for the offences of break-in (76%) and motor vehicle theft (90%). Malicious property damage was the only household crime to experience a significant change in reporting rates, increasing from 43% in 2008–09 to 47% in 2009–10.


13.4 VICTIMS OF SELECTED PERSONAL AND HOUSEHOLD CRIME—2008–09 and2009–10

Victimisation rate(a) (%)
Reporting rate(b) (%)
2008–09
2009–10
2008–09
2009–10

SELECTED PERSONAL CRIME

Assault
Physical assault
3.1
2.9
44.7
50.5
Threatened assault
Face-to-face
3.9
3.1(c)
29.7
31.9
Non face-to-face
1.2
0.8(c)
na
na
Total threatened assault
4.2
3.4(c)
na
na
Total assault
6.3
5.7(c)
na
na
Robbery
0.6
0.4(c)
39.1
60.7(c)
Sexual assault(d)
0.3
0.3
31.2
36.6

SELECTED HOUSEHOLD CRIME

Break-in
3.3
3.0
75.9
75.8
Attempted break-in
3.1
2.4(c)
38.1
41.7
Motor vehicle theft
1.1
0.9
86.7
89.8
Theft from a motor vehicle
4.5
3.7(c)
55.4
55.3
Malicious property damage
11.1
9.1(c)
43.3
46.8(c)
Other theft
4.4
3.5(c)
34.3
37.3

na not available
(a) Proportion of total persons who were a victim of selected crime.
(b) Number of victims who reported the most recent crime incident to police expressed as a percentage of victims.
(c) Difference in rate between 2009–10 and 2008–09 is statistically significant.
(d) Persons aged 18 years and over.
Source: Crime Victimisation, Australia (4530.0).


AGE AND SEX OF VICTIMS

According to the Crime Victimisation Survey of 2009–10, males were more likely than females to be victims of physical assault, with a victimisation rate of 3.4%, compared to 2.4% for females (table 13.5). Persons aged 15–19 were most likely to be victims of physical assault (6.0%) followed by persons aged 20–24 (5.5%).

Males were more likely than females to be victims of face-to-face threatened assault (3.6% and 2.6%). As with physical assault, persons aged 15–19 were most likely to be victims of both face-to-face threatened assault (5.3%) and non face-to-face threatened assault (1.7%), followed by persons aged 20–24 (4.2% and 1.5%).

In the 12 months prior to the survey interview, males were more likely than females to be victims of robbery (0.5% and 0.3%), whilst females were more likely than males to be victims of sexual assault (0.4% and 0.1%). Persons aged 18–24 had the highest victimisation rate for sexual assault (0.5%).


13.5 VICTIMISATION RATES BY SEX—2009–10

Victimisation rate (%)
Male
Female

Assault
Physical assault
3.4
2.4(a)
Threatened assault
Face-to-face
3.6
2.6(a)
Non face-to-face
0.7
0.9
Total threatened assault
3.8
2.9(a)
Robbery
0.5
0.3(a)
Sexual Assault
*0.1
0.4(a)

* estimate has a relative standard error of 25% to 50% and should be used with caution
(a) Difference in rate between males and females is statistically significant.
Source: Crime Victimisation, Australia (4530.0).


CRIMES RECORDED BY POLICE

The ABS Recorded Crime – Victims collection produces national statistics on incidents of victimisation for a selected range of household and personal offences that come to the attention of state and territory police during a calendar year. The collection includes information about the characteristics of the victim and the nature of the criminal incidents.

The 2010 publication marks a break in series for the Recorded Crime – Victims collection. This is due to changes in police recording practices, implementation of a revised offence classification and completion of the National Crime Recording Standard (NCRS) implementation. Consequently, comparisons should not be made between data for 2010 onwards and data published up to 2009.

In 2010, the Australian victimisation rates recorded by police for selected person offence categories were:
  • Murder, 1.0 victims per 100,000 persons
  • Attempted murder, 0.9 victims per 100,000 persons
  • Manslaughter, 0.1 victims per 100,000 persons
  • Sexual assault, 79.5 victims per 100,000 persons
  • Kidnapping/abduction, 2.7 victims per 100,000 persons
  • Robbery, 56.0 victims per 100,000 persons.


WEAPONS USED AGAINST VICTIMS OF CRIME RECORDED BY POLICE

In 2010, a weapon was used in 67% of murders, 71% of attempted murders, and 39% of robberies. The most common weapon type used in the commission of all three offences was a knife, which was used against 33% of murder, 28% of attempted murder, and 18% of robbery victims.

The next most common weapon type that was used against victims was a firearm, with 17% of murder, 24% of attempted murder, and 7% of robbery victims subjected to an offence involving a firearm.

The majority of sexual assault (98%), kidnapping/abduction (89%) and robbery victims (61%) did not have a weapon used against them in the commission of the offence.

 

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Statistics contained in the Year Book are the most recent available at the time of preparation. In many cases, the ABS website and the websites of other organisations provide access to more recent data. Each Year Book table or graph and the bibliography at the end of each chapter provides hyperlinks to the most up to date data release where available.


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