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Please note that the definition used for FDV offenders for this project is not exhaustive and does not fully reflect all prisoners with FDV behaviours and/or tendencies. For example, prisoners with historical FDV behaviours/offending, but do not have a current FDV offence/charge or an active DVO are not in scope of this analysis.
MODELS FOR DEVELOPING EXPERIMENTAL FDV DATA
The two models outlined in this report highlight potential opportunities in developing statistics on FDV offenders in adult corrective services custody. Both models rely on information transfers from other areas of the justice sector.
The recent releases of ABS FDV data for Recorded Crime – Victims, Australia and experimental FDV data for Recorded Crime – Offenders, Australia and Criminal Courts, Australia 4 are based on the capacity of each agency to identify and ‘flag’ the relevant individuals within their administrative systems. Despite some variation across jurisdictions in how these flags are applied, they do provide a measure of the FDV populations within each respective justice sector (police and criminal courts).
Where these flags (or other FDV related information) can be transferred from the police and criminal court administrative systems directly to the corrections systems, a reliable measure of FDV offenders within the prisoner population could potentially be obtained.
Model 1 – Offence Level Information – Prisoners with at least one FDV offence (transferred from Criminal Courts)
This model contains FDV related data derived from offence level information.
In some jurisdictions, there exists specific FDV legislation for which a person can be prosecuted for FDV related matters. As such, FDV offences can be identified separately (in offence records) from other non-FDV offences.
Using offence information transferred from the criminal courts to the corrections sector, the FDV offender population within adult corrective custody consists of: Prisoners in custody with at least one FDV offence.
Model 2 – Intervention Order Information – Prisoners with an active DVO against them (transferred from Police)
This model contains FDV related data derived from intervention order information.
In some jurisdictions, there exists specific FDV intervention/restraining orders which can be applied to a person for FDV related matters. This information is generally held by police agencies, and in some jurisdictions they are able to discern if a person is the victim or the perpetrator based on the type of DVO flag against their record. As such, a person can be identified as having an active DVO against them (for FDV related matters).
It should be noted that an active DVO may not always be resolved accurately in administrative systems and therefore there may be persons where their DVO remains active erroneously.
Using DVO information transferred from the police to the corrections sector, the FDV offender population within adult corrective custody consists of: Prisoners in custody with an active DVO.
Comparison of Models
Although the two models are conceptually different, both rely on information transfers from other sectors of the justice system; Model 1 from the criminal courts administrative systems and Model 2 from the police administrative systems.
Neither model will provide an encompassing dataset to answer all FDV related questions; the choice of model is dependent on the specific policy or research initiative.
For example, Model 1 could be used to understand the characteristics of persons in custody for FDV related offences; answer questions on FDV reoffending (over time); or sentence outcomes for persons with FDV related offences compared to those with non-FDV offences. Model 2 could be used to understand the offending characteristics of persons with an active DVO against them as well as evaluate effectiveness of FDV restraining orders and whether perpetrators are being held to account.
CASE STUDY - NSW
For this exploratory project, experimental analysis was able to be undertaken using existing corrective services administrative by-product data held in the systems of Corrective Services New South Wales. In NSW, specific FDV legislation exists for which a person can be charged for offences which are FDV related. This offence information is available through the NSW criminal court administrative data system. The following results have been produced for NSW using Model 1.
Approximately one in four (24%) NSW prisoners was identified as an FDV offender, meaning they were in custody as of 30 June 2016 with at least one FDV offence. (Table 1)
Overall, the experimental FDV and non-FDV populations have relatively similar characteristics across the NSW prisoner population:
FUTURE DEVELOPMENT OF EXPERIMENTAL FDV DATA
The ABS continues to develop a range of FDV statistics for the justice sector. The ABS has presented two statistical models which can be used to identify FDV offenders within a jurisdiction’s prisoner population. Model 1 has been applied to CSNSW administrative data to produce experimental FDV statistics.
Whilst each model has its own caveats and limitations, they provide an insight and a starting point to developing a national evidence base for FDV offenders within the prisoner population. In further advancing this evidence base, the ABS will continue to work in partnership with corrective services agencies in each jurisdiction.
1) Currently there is no single, comparable definition for ‘Family and Domestic Violence’ that is employed in the corrective services sector in Australia (or indeed, the criminal justice sector more broadly). For the purposes of this report, ‘FDV’ is used as an overarching term and refers to the definition used by each respective jurisdiction.
2) More information on the National Outcome Standards for Perpetrator Interventions can be found via the DSS website - https://plan4womenssafety.dss.gov.au/national-outcome-standards-for-perpetrator-interventions/
3) There are various types and/or names (or labels) given to violence/restraining orders used across jurisdictions for FDV situations, including a Domestic Violence Order (DVO), Apprehended Violence Order (AVO) or Intervention Order (IO). For the purposes of this report, where there is general discussion about these orders, the term ‘DVO’ is used as an overarching term for the various orders that exist.
4) Recorded Crime - Offenders, Australia (cat. no. 4519.0), 2014-15 and 2015-16; Recorded Crime - Victims, Australia (cat. no. 4510.0), 2014, 2015 and 2016; Criminal Courts, Australia (cat. no. 4513.0), 2015-16
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