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The following offences (based on Australia and New Zealand Standard Offence Classification (ANZSOC) code) are out of scope of the collection:
16 The Australian Road Rules (maintained by the National Transport Commission) only apply in each state and territory if they have been enacted by legislation. For example, in the Northern Territory, offences against the Australian Road Rules are identified as federal offences. To ensure consistency across all states and territories, the Australian Road Rules and the associated state and territory enacting legislation, are excluded from the scope of the Federal Defendants collection.
17 From 2016–17, all national laws enacted under state and territory legislation are excluded from the scope of the Federal Defendants collection. Data for 2015–16 have been revised to reflect this change. For more information see paragraph 72.
18 The statistics presented in this publication relate to federal defendants who had criminal federal offences finalised within the Higher, Magistrates' and Children's Courts during the reference period 1 July 2016 to 30 June 2017. Selected time series data are also presented.
19 The national classifications used to collect and produce data on federal defendants are:
20 These classifications provide a framework for organising criminal court information for statistical purposes, and have a hierarchical structure allowing for different levels of detail to be recorded depending on the source information. Associated with each classification are coding rules which ensure that the counting of information is consistent across states and territories.
Australian and New Zealand Standard Offence Classification (ANZSOC)
21 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. In July 2011, the title Australian Standard Offence Classification (ASOC) was changed to Australian and New Zealand Standard Offence Classification (ANZSOC). The revised title ANZSOC reflects the international use of the framework to classify criminal behaviour and highlights the collaborative work occurring between Australia and New Zealand. The classification content and structure remains unchanged.
National Offence Index (NOI)
22 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.
23 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.
24 For the purpose of Criminal Courts, Australia and this collection, the NOI is used for determining the ‘Principal Offence’ for each defendant (see paragraphs 42–45). As such, the assumptions and rules underpinning the NOI, in particular defining 'offence seriousness' and the impact of the ‘ranking’ of offences, needs 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 offences are ranked ahead of illicit drug offences in the NOI, they are unlikely to co-occur.
Method of Finalisation
25 This classification categorises how a defendant has been finalised by a court. The main categories include adjudications (a judgement/finding by the court), non-adjudications and transfers. For more information see Appendix 2 and paragraphs 34–41.
26 This classification categorises the type of sentence handed down by the court for defendants who are proven guilty. For more information see Appendix 3 and paragraphs 48–51.
Federal Offence Group
27 The Federal Offence Group categorises 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 category 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 category, and which ANZSOC Divisions are contained in each group, refer to Appendix 4.
28 Federal Offence Groups presented within this publication are determined using Act level information, with the exception of offences against the Criminal Code Act 1995, Crimes Act 1914, Migration Act 1958, Competition and Consumer Act 2010 and Corporations (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander) Act 2006 which are assigned using both Act and Section level information. Federal Offence Groups are subject to regular review as a result of changes to federal legislation and emerging user needs. As such, caution should be used when making historical comparisons by Federal Offence Group.
29 From 2015–16, the Federal Offence Group ‘Terrorism’ became available for the first time. ‘Terrorism’ comprises offences committed under Part 5.3 of the Criminal Code Act 1995 including terrorist acts, preparing or training for terrorist acts, or possessing things connected with terrorist acts. Prior to 2015–16, terrorism offences were mapped to the Security category, and therefore caution should be used when making comparisons over time for these offences.
30 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. A finalised defendant is one for whom all charges have been formally completed (within the reference period) so that they cease to be an item of outstanding work for the criminal courts.
31 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.
32 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.
33 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
34 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
35 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
36 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).
37 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 with 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
38 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).
39 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 defendant is determined by the following order of precedence:
40 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:
41 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:
PRINCIPAL FEDERAL OFFENCE
42 Where a finalised defendant has multiple charges the principal federal offence is determined by:
43 The type of finalisation is considered in the following order:
44 Where a defendant has a single charge within the type of finalisation (e.g. charges proven, charges not proven, transfer of charges etc.), the principal federal offence is the relevant ANZSOC code (refer to paragraph 21) associated with that charge.
45 Where a defendant has multiple charges, each with the same method 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 22–24.
PRINCIPAL FEDERAL OFFENCE GROUP
46 In order to output the Federal Offence Group at the defendant level, a principal Federal Offence Group category is derived by selecting the category associated with the principal federal offence. For more information on how the principal federal offence is derived, refer to paragraphs 42–45.
47 Where there is more than one Federal Offence Group category associated with an offence, a hierarchy is used to derive the most serious category. This hierarchy has been based on the hierarchy used to derive the principal federal offence, i.e. the National Offence Index (NOI). For more information on the NOI, refer to paragraphs 22–24.
48 Federal defendants who are proven guilty have sentence information reported at the offence level. A defendant can receive:
49 Where a defendant has multiple sentences, the principal sentence is selected by applying the hierarchy of the Sentence Type classification (see Appendix 3). This is usually, though not necessarily, the sentence associated with the principal offence.
50 It should be noted that not all sentence types are available to magistrates and judges in all jurisdictions. Whether a sentencing option is available in a particular state or territory and court level should be considered when making comparisons.
51 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 Criminal Courts statistics 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.
52 The secondary counting unit for the Federal Defendants collection is the federal offence, which presents a count of all federal offences finalised in the reference period (as opposed to a single, principal offence used to represent individual defendants) . Federal offences are presented by both ANZSOC and the Federal Offence Group.
53 A known issue with the federal offence counting unit is that it may present an overcount of offences. This is due to the fact that the count is based on all records that are flagged as ‘federal’ in the file provided to the ABS, and where a given federal offence has more than one sentence imposed, separate record/s (each flagged as federal) are provided for each separate sentence.
STATE AND TERRITORY SPECIFIC ISSUES
54 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 73–104 of the Explanatory Notes of Criminal Courts, Australia (cat. no. 4513.0).
New South Wales
55 Duration data for New South Wales Magistrates' and Children's Courts are based on the date of first appearance rather than the date of registration, because the date of registration is not captured in the Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research's (BOCSAR) system (the source of courts data provided to the ABS). This may impact on duration data and therefore caution should be used when making comparisons across states and territories. This issue does not impact data for the New South Wales Higher Courts.
56 New South Wales legislation does not contain discrete offences of stalking, intimidation and harassment and therefore all these offences have been coded to ANZSOC Division 02 Acts intended to cause injury. As such, this division may be overstated and ANZSOC Division 05 Abduction/harassment may be understated. Caution should be used when making comparisons with other states and territories.
57 Victoria has a high proportion of defendants with a principal federal offence in ANZSOC Division 14 Traffic and vehicle regulatory offences compared with most other states and territories. This is due to parking offences occurring at airports, charged under Airports (Control of On-Airport Activities) Regulations 1997. Prior to 2015–16 these offences were mapped to the Federal Offence Group of ‘Aviation’; from 2015–16 these offences are mapped to ‘Transport’ (see Appendix 4). For more information refer to paragraph 70.
58 Following an improvement in recording practices in Queensland, detailed proven guilty data (guilty finding by the court, guilty plea by defendant and guilty ex-parte) are available for 2015–16 and 2016–17 within this publication. Users are advised that detailed proven guilty data presented in previous versions of the publication are unreliable and should not be used.
59 Detailed data on defendants proven guilty (guilty finding by the court, guilty plea by defendant and guilty ex-parte) are not published for Western Australia. This is due to changes in the quality of these data since the migration of Western Australia’s criminal courts data to the Integrated Courts Management System (ICMS) in November 2013.
60 For 2013–14 onwards, Western Australia has reported date of initiation for the Magistrates' and Children's Courts based on date of registration, as per national reporting standards. Previously, the date of first appearance was provided. Caution should therefore be used when making historical comparisons, or comparing historical data with other states and territories.
61 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.
62 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, because the date of registration is not captured in their systems. This may impact on duration data and therefore caution should be used when making comparisons across states and territories.
63 In 2011–12 and 2012–13, a joint project between the Northern Territory Department of the Attorney-General and Justice and Police, to close historic outstanding warrants and summons matters, resulted in an increase in the number of finalisations. Other impacts included increases in the duration of cases and increases in the number of cases withdrawn by the prosecution during those periods. Caution should be used when making historical comparisons.
Australian Capital Territory
64 The Australian Capital Territory has a high proportion of defendants with a principal federal offence of Traffic and vehicle regulatory offences compared with most other states and territories. This is due to parking offences charged under the Commonwealth Australian National University Parking and Traffic Statute 2007 and the Australian National University Act 1991. Prior to 2015–16, these offences were mapped to the ‘Other’ category in the Federal Offence Group; from 2015–16, these offences are mapped to the ‘Transport’ category (see Appendix 4). For more information refer to paragraph 71.
COMPARISONS TO OTHER ABS DATA
Criminal Courts collection
65 The Federal Defendants collection presents a subset of all defendants finalised in Australia's criminal courts, as published in 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
66 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
67 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 was applied to the Federal Defendants collection for the first time in the 2013–14 release. 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.
68 After perturbation, a given published cell value will be consistent across all tables. However, in each individual table, the sum of the components of a total will not necessarily give the same result as the published total. 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.
69 Perturbation has been applied to all data presented in this publication. Previously, a different technique was used to confidentialise these data and therefore there may be small differences between historical data presented in this and previous versions of the publication.
70 Prior to 2016–17, parking offences that occurred at airports had been coded to Federal Offence Group ‘Aviation’ – based on the Airports (Control of on-airport activities) Regulations 1997 legislation under which they were charged. From 2016–17, these offences have been re-coded to Federal Offence Group ‘Transport’. Data for 2015–16 has been revised to reflect this change. Caution should be used when making historical comparisons.
71 Prior to 2016–17, parking offences charged under the Australian National University Act 1991 in the Australian Capital Territory had been coded to Federal Offence Group ‘Other’. From 2016–17, these offences have been re-coded to Federal Offence Group ‘Transport’. Data for 2015–16 has been revised to reflect this change. Caution should be used when making historical comparisons.
72 Prior to 2016–17, some national laws enacted in individual states and territories were being included in the Federal Defendants data (where they were flagged as federal offences). This included offences against Australian Consumer Law (ACL) in Queensland. To ensure consistency across all states and territories, all state and territory enacted national laws have been removed from the scope of the Federal Defendants collection in 2016–17. Data for 2015–16 have been revised to reflect this change. Caution should be used when making historical comparisons.
73 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.
74 Non-ABS sources of criminal court statistics which may be of interest include:
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