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Newsletters - Crime and Justice Statistics - Issue Number 15, October 2003
 
 

In this issue:

Sexual Assault Information Development Framework
Publications
Projects
NCCJS Meetings
Upcoming Publications
Staff News
Crime and Justice on the Web
NCCJS Contact Points


Sexual Assault Information Development Framework

An ABS Information Paper, Sexual Assault Information Development Framework (cat. no. 4518.0) was released on 12 August 2003.

The Information Development Framework (IDF) development process involved extensive consultation with a range of commonwealth, state and territory agencies, and with various non-government bodies. Their assistance is gratefully acknowledged. Funding and valuable support for this project was provided by the Office of the Status of Women as part of the National Initiative to Combat Sexual Assault.

The IDF aims to help users of statistics to improve their understanding of the data and related issues in the area of sexual assault. The Framework identifies the various requirements for sexual assault data, and reviews currently available data in order to identify the gaps that exist in national data on sexual assault. A number of conclusions are reached about addressing priority information development needs through the development of strategies to produce more uniform data from existing sources, as well as to inform future collection processes.

Importantly, the publication also brings together information about a number of currently available sexual assault data sources. Some of these sources are existing ABS collections and approximately 60 non-ABS sources are included.

The IDF presents a conceptual framework for sexual assault, for research and analysis of data in this area of concern. Elements of the framework, for which current and potential data sources are identified, include:
  • the context of sexual assault
  • actual and perceived risk
  • the characteristics of incidents
  • the responses made
  • information on the impacts and outcomes of sexual assault.


The holistic view of sexual assault taken in this framework includes responses provided by the health system, the community services system, the criminal justice system and other specialist services against sexual violence.

The IDF will facilitate:
  • a long-term analysis of sexual assault as a social problem
  • an assessment of how the various support, police and legal services are responding to sexual assault
  • a more accurate view of service effectiveness that will better inform the ongoing development of appropriate programs and services
  • the capacity to measure changes in sexual assault patterns over time.

A key part of the IDF is the proposal of strategies with regard to the tracking of sexual assault data over time. Specifically, this will include tracking trends in reporting, the nature of incidents, and the characteristics of victims and perpetrators.

While it is acknowledged that ‘perfect’ recording of the incidence and nature of sexual assault will never be possible, the IDF is a valuable resource for informing a broad-based, long-term perspective on the needs for and uses of sexual assault data.

The IDF provides a benchmark from which to move forward and will be used as a tool for the development and management of information needed for research, policy development and service delivery in relation to sexual assault. Further collaboration in information development, as proposed in the IDF, is an important step in improving what is known about the prevalence and nature of sexual assault.

The IDF is available on the ABS web site. Please contact Lyn Tucker on email <crime.justice@abs.gov.au> if you have any queries about the framework, or would like further information.


Publications

Copies of all publications can be ordered by contacting the ABS National Information and Referral Service on 1300 135 070.

Recorded Crime - Victims, Australia (4510.0)

On 29 May 2003, the ABS released Recorded Crime - Victims, Australia 2002. This publication presents statistics on victims of a selected range of offences that were recorded by state and territory police in Australia during 2002. It includes information on the personal characteristics of victims, levels of victimisation and characteristics associated with the offence such as location, outcome of investigation, and weapon use.

The offence categories with the largest number of victims recorded by Australian police during 2002 were other theft (679,460), unlawful entry with intent (394,374) and assault (159,548).

One notable feature was that the number of victims decreased between 2001 and 2002 across most offence categories. This was particularly the case for offences involving the taking of property. Victims of robbery decreased by 21% - with armed robbery reducing by 30%, motor vehicle theft by 19%, unlawful entry with intent by 9% and other theft decreasing by 3%. Other offence categories to record a decrease included homicide and related offences (9%), kidnapping/abduction (9%) and blackmail/extortion (3%).

VICTIMS(a), Change in number from 2001 to 2002
graph - VICTIMS(a), Change in number from 2001 to 2002
(a) The definition of a victim varies according to the category of the offence.


The largest numerical decreases across offence categories between 2001 and 2002 were for victims of unlawful entry with intent (down 41,380), motor vehicle theft (26,505) and other theft (20,677).

In 2002, the victimisation rate for unlawful entry with intent (2001 per 100,000 population) and motor vehicle theft (575 per 100,000 population) were the lowest since the commencement of the national Recorded Crime collection in 1993, while the robbery victimisation rate (106 per 100,000 population) was the lowest since 1995.

The offence categories for which there were increases between 2001 and 2002 in numbers of incidents recorded included sexual assault (6%) and assault (5%). Manslaughter (29%) and murder (2%) also increased; but a 21% decrease in the number of victims of driving causing death and a 14% decrease in attempted murders resulted in an overall decrease in victims for the homicide and related offences category.

The assault victimisation rate increased by 44% from 563 to 810 per 100,000 population between 1995 and 2002. Assault was the only offence category to show a consistently increasing trend in the rate of victimisation over this period. The sexual assault victimisation rate increased from 69 to 91 per 100,000 population between 1993 and 2002. In contrast, murder, attempted murder and manslaughter victimisation rates remained fairly stable over this period.

Males were more likely than females to be victims, for which a report to police was recorded, of robbery (70% of victims were male), blackmail/extortion (69%), attempted murder (66%), driving causing death (62%), murder (60%) and assault (57%). Females were more likely to be the victims of sexual assault (80%) and kidnapping/abduction (62%).

Corrective Services, Australia (4512.0)

The June quarter 2003 issue of Corrective Services, Australia was released on 25 September 2003. This publication presents time series information on persons in custody and community-based corrections. Details are provided by state/territory on prisoner counts and rates of imprisonment by type of custody, legal status, sentence type and Indigenous status. Information is also presented on the number of sentenced receptions into custody and the number of federal prisoners.

Criminal Courts, Australia (4513.0)

On 9 April 2003, the ABS released Criminal Courts, Australia 2001-02 (formerly Higher Criminal Courts, Australia), 8 weeks earlier than last year’s release. The publication provides a picture of the characteristics of defendants dealt with by the Higher Criminal Courts, including information on the offences and sentence types associated with those defendants.

The key findings for defendants finalised in the Higher Criminal Courts during 2001-02 were:
  • the number of finalisations decreased by less than 1% between 2000-01 and 2001-02 to 17,997 defendants
  • approximately 85% (15,229) of defendants were finalised by adjudication (i.e. proven guilty or acquitted)
  • males represented 88% of all defendants finalised by adjudication
  • nearly one in two defendants finalised by adjudication were males aged between 20 and 34 years
  • males were more likely than females to have a principal offence related to sexual assault (12% versus 1% respectively) while offences related to deception were the principal offence of 17% of females and 6% of males
  • for all adjudicated defendants, 92% were proven guilty and the remaining 8% were acquitted
  • for defendants proven guilty, one in two (54%) received a custodial order to be served in a correctional facility.

Graph: Adjudicated Defendants, by selected principal offence


Crime and Safety, Australia (4509.0)

On 20 June 2003, the ABS released Crime and Safety Australia. This publication presents findings from a household survey that collected data on the nature and extent of crime in the community. It includes information from individuals and households about their experience of selected crimes as well as details regarding their most recent experience of crime.

There were 7,479,200 households in Australia in April 2002. In the 12 months prior to the survey it is estimated that:
  • 354,000 (4.7%) households were victims of at least one break-in to their home, garage or shed
  • 254,600 (3.4%) households found signs of at least one attempted break-in
  • 553,500 (7.4%) households were victims of either a break-in or an attempted break-in
  • 134,300 (1.8%) households had at least one motor vehicle stolen.

There were 15,215,100 persons aged 15 years and over in Australia in April 2002. In the 12 months prior to the survey it is estimated that:
  • 95,800 (0.6%) persons were victims of at least one robbery
  • 717,900 (4.7%) persons were victims of at least one assault
  • 33,000 (0.2%) persons aged 18 years and over were victims of at least one sexual assault.




Graph - crime victimisation rates


Many factors influence whether or not an incident is considered by the victim to be a crime, and whether or not it is reported to police. The survey indicates that rates of reporting to police vary depending on the type of offence and the victim’s view of the incident. Reporting rates for some offence types were:
  • 95% for household victims of motor vehicle theft
  • 75% for household victims of break-in
  • 50% for victims of robbery
  • 31% for victims of assault
  • 20% for female victims of sexual assault.
Projects

Differences in Recorded Crime Statistics (DiRCS)

The NCSU project investigating the differences in recorded crime statistics is progressing. The project has 8 sub-projects which investigate the funnelling of crime information from people's experience of crime, their reporting to police, police recording of the crime and the extraction of these data to produce the national Recorded Crime Victims Statistics collection. The outcomes will include a series of recommendations for the directions of national recorded crime victim statistics.

Sub-project 1, comparing the 1998 National Crime and Safety Survey with Recorded Crime Statistics data, has been completed and was signed off by the NCSU Board of Management in May 2003. Sub-project 2, involving the investigation of state and territory police procedures, with particular emphasis on the investigation of differences in these procedures which may impact on crime recording practice, is also completed. The NCSU is also finalising development for sub-projects 3 and 6. These two sub-projects involve sampling crime reports from each state and territory to investigate selected factors that may impact on the creation of criminal incidents in a police recording system from reports made to police, and the recording of national recorded crime offences from these criminal incidents.

Development of the Offender Based Statistics (OBS) collection

The framework for the OBS collection was completed in February 2003 and endorsed by the NCSU Board of Management in May 2003. This collection sources data on alleged offenders recorded by state and territory police, and will assist in evaluating the effect of crime and justice policy at the national level.

The first collection cycle is underway, with data collected for the 2002-03 recording period. These data were evaluated and a preliminary report presented to the NCSU Board of Management in September 2003. The collection includes counts of unique offenders, offenders each time proceeded against, and types and numbers of offences. Data items include date of birth, sex, Indigenous status, method of proceeding against alleged offender and offence types.

National Information Development Plan for Crime and Justice

Work on the National Information Development Plan (NIDP) for Crime and Justice is progressing, and consultations have taken place in all states and territories.

The consultations have uncovered a substantial number of priority information needs, which will be distilled to form the core of the NIDP, which is expected to be released in late 2004.

If you have questions about, or input for, the NIDP, email crime.justice@abs.gov.au.

NCCJS Meetings

The following meetings have been held since April 2003:
  • Corrective Services Board of Management, 13 May 2003
  • Crime Board of Management, 14 May & 23 Sep 2003
  • Courts Board of Management, 7 Aug 2003.

Forthcoming meetings:
  • Courts Board of Management, Nov 2003
  • Corrective Services Advisory Group, Nov 2003
  • Police Statisticians Group, Dec 2003
  • Crime Advisory Group, Feb 2004.


Upcoming Publications

December 2003: Corrective Services, Australia, September Quarter 2003 (cat. no. 4512.0).

January 2004: Prisoners in Australia, 2003 (cat. no. 4517.0).

February 2004: Criminal Courts, Australia, 2002-03 (cat. no. 4513.0).

March 2004: Recorded Crime - Offenders, Australia, 2002-03 (cat. no. 4519.0).


Staff News

In July 2003, Nicole Hunt joined the NCCJS in the Development and Analysis Unit. Nadine Cole began work as Manager of the National Crime Statistics Unit in August 2003.

During the same period Rhonda Forner and Fiona Shalley went on maternity leave, with Rhonda announcing the safe arrival of Madeleine in August.

Crime and Justice on the Web

For more information about Crime and Justice statistics, look for our theme page on the ABS web site. From the ABS home page click on ‘Themes’, then ‘Crime and Justice’. These pages are a centralised source that links all ABS information on crime and justice and related areas in one place.

Would you prefer to receive an electronic version of the newsletter?

If so, please send your email details to crime.justice@abs.gov.au. The newsletter can also be viewed on the ABS web site at http://www.abs.gov.au.


NCCJS Contact Points

Fax: (03) 96157373

Email: crime.justice@abs.gov.au

Postal address:

National Centre for Crime and Justice Statistics
Australian Bureau of Statistics
GPO Box 2796Y
Melbourne VIC 3001



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