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Weapons used against victims of crime
The majority of victims did not have a weapon used against them, with the exception of murder and attempted murder victims. However, during the period 1995-2001, for most offences a person was increasingly likely to be a victim of a crime involving the use of a weapon.
Of the serious offences shown in tables 11.9 and 11.10, (see also graphs 11.11 and 11.12), there were more victims of assaults with a weapon than of any other offences. In recent years, more than 11% of assault victims were assaulted with a weapon, with less than 1% assaulted with a firearm. Between 1995 and 2001 there was a 61% increase in the assault victimisation rate involving a weapon, which equates to approximately 7,000 more victims in 2001 who had a weapon used against them than there were in 1995.
Robbery was the offence type with the next largest number of victims involving a weapon. While the proportion of people who were victims of an armed robbery fluctuated during the period 1995-2001, the 2001 rate was 96% greater than in 1995. There has also been a marked shift in the relative proportions of the type of weapon used. In 1995, 10% of robbery victims had a firearm used against them, while a further 22% involved another weapon type. By 2001, approximately 6% of robbery victims had been subjected to the use of a firearm while 31% had other types of weapons used against them. Nearly 60% of robbery victims were not subjected to a weapon.
In contrast to assaults and robberies, the extent of weapon use during sexual assaults has remained relatively constant, and very low, with 2% or less of victims of this offence having been subjected to a weapon between 1995 and 2001.
While the majority of assault, robbery and sexual assault victims did not have a weapon used against them, this was not the case with murder and attempted murder. During the period 1995-2001, the proportion of murder victims who were attacked with a weapon peaked at 78% in 1996. Since that time, the proportion of murders involving a weapon fell to about 60% in 2000 and 2001, and the murder victimisation rate involving a weapon fell by 21% (graph 11.12). The overall decrease in weapon use largely reflects the decrease in the use of firearms: 16% of murder victims in 2001 were killed by a firearm, compared to 32% in 1996.
The decrease in weapon use for murders has not been evident for attempted murders, with the victimisation rate based on use of weapon 58% higher in 2001 than 1995. The proportion of kidnappings/abductions where a weapon was used increased markedly in 1999-2001 compared with previous years.
For the offence types which had the highest proportion of weapon use, there were 181 murders, 370 attempted murders and 164 kidnappings/abductions involving the use of a weapon in 2001.
A person was more likely to be a victim of a crime where a firearm was used in 2001 than in 1995, with the exception of murder. A firearm was the predominant weapon type for kidnappings/abductions in 2001, and a person was four times more likely to be a victim of a kidnapping/abduction involving a firearm in 2001 than in 1995. However, since 1995 there was a greater increase in the likelihood of being confronted by a weapon other than a firearm for attempted murder (54% increase), assault (67% increase) and robbery (145% increase).
A knife was the predominant weapon used against a victim across most of the other offence types, according to 2001 reported crime data (graph 11.13). For murder and attempted murder approximately one victim in three was attacked with a knife; and for robbery it was nearly one in four. Weapons such as clubs/bats/bars were the most likely type of weapon used in assaults. Syringes were recorded as having been used in only a small proportion of offences, while 4% of robbery victims had a syringe used against them.
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