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This document was added or updated on 11/08/2015.
Australian and New Zealand Standard Offence Classification (ANZSOC)
22 The offence categories used for Federal Defendants statistics in this publication are classified to the Australian and New Zealand Standard Offence Classification (ANZSOC) (cat. no. 1234.0) (see Appendix 1). ANZSOC provides a national framework for classifying offences for statistical purposes. The first release of this classification was the Australian Standard Offence Classification 1997 (cat. no. 1234.0) (ASOC97). In 2008 the ABS released the second edition of the Australian Standard Offence Classification (ASOC08), which reflected changes that had occurred in criminal legislation since the first edition was released, as well as satisfying emerging user requirements for offence data. The ASOC was renamed ANZSOC in July 2011 to reflect its adoption in New Zealand. ANZSOC contains the same offence details and classification as ASOC08.
National Offence Index (NOI)
23 The National Offence Index (NOI) (cat. no. 1234.0.55.001) is a ranking of all ANZSOC Groups and supplementary ANZSOC codes (ANZSOC Divisions and/or ANZSOC Subdivisions). This ranking is based on the concept of 'offence seriousness', with a ranking of 1 relating to the ANZSOC code associated with the most serious offence.
24 The first version of the NOI was released in 2002. This was superseded by the second version, released in 2009 to accommodate the changes made in ASOC08. Offence information for 2010–11 onwards is based on the 2009 edition of the NOI.
25 The assumptions and rules underpinning the NOI, in particular defining 'offence seriousness' and the impact of this definition on the ranking of offences, need to be considered when using the principal federal offence data in this publication. However, it is important to note that these technical issues are only of practical significance where a choice must be made between output categories. For example, although some Sexual assault and related offences are ranked ahead of Illicit drug offences, they are unlikely to co-occur.
Method of Finalisation
26 This classification categorises how a defendant has been finalised by a court. Main categories include adjudications, non-adjudications and transfers. For more information see Appendix 2 and paragraphs 31–38.
27 This classification is used to assign a principal sentence to defendants who are proven guilty. For more information see Appendix 3 and paragraphs 43–46.
28 The principal counting unit for the Federal Defendants collection is the finalised defendant. A defendant is a person or organisation against whom one or more criminal charges have been laid and which are heard together as the one unit of work by a court at a particular level. It should be noted that the collection does not enumerate unique persons or organisations. If a person or organisation is a defendant in a number of criminal cases dealt with and finalised separately within the courts during the reference period, this person or organisation will be counted more than once within that reference period.
29 Where a person or organisation is a defendant in more than one case, and their cases are finalised on the same date and in the same court level, their defendant records will be merged and counted as a single defendant record. This merging rule is used for defendants finalised in the Higher, Magistrates' and Children's Courts.
30 Courts in some jurisdictions operate programs which transfer defendants to drug and other specialist courts for finalisation. These defendants are counted as finalised by transfer in the criminal court level that recommended the transfer. In some instances, defendants may be referred to programs where, upon completion of the program, the defendant returns for finalisation to the court that requested the transfer.
METHOD OF FINALISATION
31 Method of finalisation describes how a criminal charge is concluded by a criminal court. For the purposes of the Federal Defendants collection, one method of finalisation is applied to each defendant within the Higher, Magistrates' and Children's Courts.
Transfers between Higher Court levels
32 Defendants who transfer from one Higher Court to another Higher Court are considered as initiated only once and finalised only once.
Transfers between the Magistrates' Court and the Higher Court levels
33 Defendants who transfer from the Magistrates' Court to the Higher Court (or vice versa) are considered to be initiated twice (once in each court level) and finalised twice (once in each court level).
34 Defendants with a principal federal offence of Illicit drug offences or Sexual assault and related offences are more likely to be transferred from the Magistrates' Court to the Higher Court than defendants for other offences, and are therefore more likely to have a method of finalisation of a transfer. The high proportion of transfers for these offences should be taken into consideration when interpreting data by method of finalisation as it may impact on the proportion of defendants proven guilty for these offences.
Transfers between Children's Courts and Magistrates' or Higher Court levels
35 Defendants who transfer between the Children's Courts and the Magistrates' or Higher Courts (or vice versa) are considered to be initiated twice (once in each court level) and finalised twice (once in each court level).
36 Where a defendant finalised in a Higher Court has multiple charges and these have different methods of finalisation, the method of finalisation code applied to the defendants is determined by the following order of precedence:
37 Where a defendant finalised in a Magistrates' Court has multiple charges and these have different methods of finalisation, the defendant method of finalisation code is determined by the following order of precedence:
38 Where a defendant finalised in a Children's Court has multiple charges and these have different methods of finalisation, the defendant method of finalisation code is determined by the following order of precedence:
39 Where a finalised defendant has multiple charges the principal federal offence is determined by:
42 Where a defendant has multiple charges, each with the same type of finalisation - for example, the defendant has been found guilty of all charges - the NOI is used to determine the principal federal offence. The principal federal offence is determined as the charge with the highest ranked ANZSOC Group in the NOI. Where the defendant has an offence that is unable to be determined via the NOI (due to missing offence information or the offence being mapped to an ANZSOC code that is not included in the NOI), and this offence cannot be determined as more or less serious than another offence within the same type of finalisation, the principal federal offence is coded to 'not able to be determined'. For more information about the NOI refer to paragraphs 23–25.
43 Federal defendants who are proven guilty have sentence information reported at the offence level. A defendant can receive:
45 It should be noted that not all sentence types are available to magistrates and judges in all jurisdictions. For example, in the Higher Courts, all states and territories with the exception of Western Australia have provision for the use of partially suspended imprisonment sentences. Whether a sentencing option is available in a particular state or territory and court level should be considered when making comparisons.
46 Defendants with a method of finalisation of 'not guilty by reason of mental illness/condition' (an acquitted outcome) may have a specific kind of sentence or order imposed on them by the court. However, these sentences are not within the scope of this collection as the definition of principal sentence, for the purpose of this collection, is that it only applies to defendants with a method of finalisation of proven guilty.
STATE AND TERRITORY SPECIFIC ISSUES
47 The following information highlights events or processes unique to a state/territory that may have impacted on the data for the Federal Defendants collection. For other state and territory specific issues that have impacted on the Criminal Courts collection more generally, refer to paragraphs 71–96 of the Explanatory Notes of Criminal Courts, Australia (cat. no. 4513.0) publication.
New South Wales
48 Duration from initiation to finalisation data for New South Wales Magistrates' and Children's Courts are based on the date of first appearance rather than the date of registration. New South Wales is unable to provide the date of registration as it is not captured in the Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research's system, the system used to provide NSW Courts data to the ABS. This may impact on Duration from initiation to finalisation data and therefore caution should be used when making comparisons across states and territories.
49 In November 2013, Western Australia's Magistrates' and Children's Courts data were migrated to the Integrated Court Management System (ICMS). Data entry and extraction procedures on the ICMS vary from those of the previous recording system which have had an impact on several data items, most notably Method of finalisation. The expansion of outcome categories within the ICMS system enables greater accuracy in identifying defendants acquitted by the court as this is now specified as a final outcome type. This has led to an increase in the number of finalised defendants reported as Acquitted. The number of finalised defendants who were transferred also increased as a result of new processes for the transfer of charges from Magistrates' to Higher Courts in ICMS. Caution should therefore be used when making historical comparisons for these Methods of finalisation.
50 For 2013-14, Western Australia changed the way they provided Date of initiation data for the Magistrates' and Children's Courts. Previously, the date of first appearance was provided rather than the date of registration. In 2013-14, Western Australia provided the date of registration, bringing it in line with national reporting requirements. Caution should therefore be used when making historical comparisons, or comparing historical data with other states and territories.
51 The 2010–11 Federal Defendants collection included data for Tasmanian Magistrates' and Children's Courts only. From 2011–12, data for all court levels are included for Tasmania.
52 Duration from initiation to finalisation data for the Northern Territory Magistrates' and Children's Courts are based on the date of first appearance rather than the date of registration. The Northern Territory is unable to provide the date of registration as it is not captured in their systems. This may impact on Duration from initiation to finalisation data and therefore caution should be used when making comparisons across states and territories.
53 In 2011–12 and 2012–13, a joint project between the NT Department of the Attorney-General and Justice and Police to clear up historic outstanding warrants and summons matters resulted in an increase in the number of finalisations. Other impacts include increases in the duration of cases and increases in the number of cases Withdrawn by the prosecution during the 2011–12 and 2012–13 reference periods. Caution should be used when making historical comparisons.
Australian Capital Territory
54 The Australian Capital Territory has a higher proportion of defendants with a principal federal offence of traffic offences than other states and territories. This is due to parking offences charged under the Australian National University Parking and Traffic Statute 2007.
COMPARISONS TO OTHER ABS DATA
Criminal Courts collection
55 Federal defendants are a subset of all defendants finalised in Australia's criminal courts. Information relating to all defendants finalised in the criminal courts are available in the publication Criminal Courts, Australia (cat. no. 4513.0). However, as a federal defendant may also be charged with state or territory offences, the difference between all finalised defendants in the criminal courts and finalised federal defendants does not equal the count of defendants charged with state or territory offences.
COMPARISONS TO NON-ABS SOURCES
56 Due to differing scope and counting rules the data in this publication may not be comparable to data published in other national or state and territory publications.
CONFIDENTIALITY OF TABULAR DATA
57 The Census and Statistics Act 1905 provides the authority for the ABS to collect statistical information, and requires that statistical output not be published or disseminated in a manner that is likely to enable the identification of a particular person or organisation. The requirement means that the ABS must ensure that any statistical information about individuals cannot be derived from published data. To minimise the risk of identifying individuals in aggregate statistics, a technique is used to randomly adjust cell values and summary variables. This technique is called perturbation and has been applied to the Federal Defendants collection for the first time for the 2013-14 reference period. Perturbation involves the small random adjustment of the statistics and is considered the most satisfactory technique for avoiding the release of identifiable statistics, while maximising the range of information that can be released. These adjustments have a negligible impact on the underlying pattern of the statistics.
58 After perturbation, a given published cell value will be consistent across all tables. However, the sum of the components of a total will not necessarily give the same result as the published total in a particular table. As such, proportions may add to more or less than 100%. Readers are advised to use the published totals rather than deriving totals based on the component cells. Cells with small values may be proportionally more affected by perturbation than large values. Users are advised against conducting analyses and drawing conclusions based on small values.
59 Perturbation has been applied to all data in the Federal Defendants collection from 2010-11 onwards. Previously, a different technique was used to confidentialise the data and therefore there may be small differences between historical data presented in this issue of the publication and those published in previous issues.
60 Current publications and other products released by the ABS are listed on the ABS website. The ABS also issues a daily release advice on the website which details products to be released in the week ahead. For a listing of ABS publications relating to crime and justice statistics, refer to the Related Information tab.
61 Non-ABS sources of criminal court statistics which may be of interest include:
62 For the first time, in addition to presenting data by the Australian and New Zealand Standard Offence Classification (ANZSOC), counts of finalised federal defendants are presented by Federal offence group, the alternative offence grouping to ANZSOC.
Federal Offence Group
63 The Federal offence group classifies Commonwealth Acts and Sections into broad categories that are of a particular interest to users. The Federal offence group is not a standard ABS classification and is not related to the ANZSOC. Each Federal offence group may comprise a range of offences that reside in a number of different ANZSOC Divisions. For more information about the groups, including definitions, which Acts have been mapped to each group, and which ANZSOC Divisions are comprised in each group, refer to Appendix 4.
64 Caution should be used when comparing Federal offence group data with previous years. In 2011–12, a major revision of the Federal offence group was undertaken. The number of categories was expanded, and there was extensive re-mapping of groups to the new categories. In 2012-13, further refinements were made and data for 2011-12 were revised accordingly. See Explanatory Notes of the 2011–12 and 2012–13 issues of this publication for details of these changes.
65 In 2013–14, another review of the Federal offence group was undertaken. The process of assigning Commonwealth Acts and Sections to the corresponding groups was simplified by assigning most Acts at the Act level only, rather than at the more detailed Section level. The exception to this was the Criminal Code Act 1995, Crimes Act 1914 and Migration Act 1958 where Section level information was taken into consideration. The Federal offence groups most impacted by these changes were Child sexual exploitation offences, Import/export offences and Security offences. This revision applies to 2013-14 data only. Data for previous years have not been revised.
Principal Federal Offence Group
66 In order to output the Federal offence group at the defendant level, a principal group has been derived by selecting the group associated with the principal federal offence. For more information on how the principal federal offence is derived, refer to paragraphs 39-42.
67 Where there is more than one Federal offence group associated with an offence, a hierarchy is used to derive the most serious group. This hierarchy has been based on the hierarchy used to derive the principal federal offence, ie. the National Offence Index (NOI). For more information on the NOI, refer to paragraphs 23-25.
68 The secondary counting unit for the Federal Defendants collection is the federal offence. Rather than apply an order of precedence to the offences for each defendant (to enable the defendant to be represented by one principal federal offence) the Federal Defendants collection allows for the counting of all federal offences finalised. Federal offences have been presented by ANZSOC in Table 24 and the Federal offence group in Table 25 in the data cubes.
69 Note that some federal offences will be counted more than once for a proven guilty offence if more than one sentence is handed down. Therefore the count of federal offences may be overstated.
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