4519.0 - Recorded Crime - Offenders, 2008-09 Quality Declaration 
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 18/03/2010   
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1 This publication presents statistics about the characteristics of alleged offenders who were proceeded against by police during the period 1 July 2008 to 30 June 2009, for all states and territories. This includes information about the most serious offence, referred to as the principal offence, associated with an alleged offender. Statistics are also presented on the number of police proceedings that police initiated in the form of court and non-court actions during 2008-09 for all states and territories except Western Australia (refer to paragraph 44 of the Explanatory Notes).


2 Statistics in this publication are derived from information on offenders collected by the ABS from administrative records held by the state and territory police agencies.


3 The scope of the collection includes all alleged offenders, aged 10 years and over, who have been proceeded against by police during the reference period.

4 All criminal offences where police agencies have the authority to take legal action against an individual are included, with the exception of those outlined in paragraphs 5-6 of the Explanatory Notes. Depending on the type of offence committed, police will either initiate a court or non-court action. Court actions largely comprise the laying of charges against an alleged offender that must be answered in court. Offenders may be taken into custody, granted bail or issued with a summons for these charges pending an appearance in court. The proceeding may also be withdrawn or changed from a court to a non-court action. Non-court actions comprise legal actions such as informal or formal cautions/warnings, conferencing, counselling, drug diversionary schemes, or the issuing of penalty or infringement notices, which do not require an appearance in court.


5 The scope excludes the following:

  • persons less than 10 years of age;
  • organisations;
  • offences that come under the authority of agencies other than state and territory police, such as Environmental Protection Authorities, etc; and
  • proceedings initiated by federal police.

6 Due to quality and/or comparability issues, the statistics presented in this publication exclude the following:
  • traffic offence information specifically related to ASOC Division 14 - Road Traffic and Motor Vehicle Regulatory Offences and Subdivision 041 - Dangerous or negligent operation of a vehicle;
  • Indigenous offenders for Victoria, Western Australia, Tasmania and the Australian Capital Territory;
  • ASOC Group 1523 - Breach of Bail; and
  • police proceedings data for Western Australia.

7 Note: Data about police-initiated court proceedings for Division 14 and Subdivision 041 are available for all states and territories except Victoria as datacubes on the ABS website. Victorian traffic data are not held within the Victorian Police offender system (LEAP) as the data are processed by an external third party.


8 The statistics in this collection relate to offenders proceeded against by police during the reference period 1 July 2008 and 30 June 2009.


9 The following provides an explanation as to how offenders and police proceedings are treated and counted in this collection.

10 The main counting unit for this collection is the offender.

Date of Action

11 Data are compiled on the basis of the date that police initiated action or proceeded against an offender (e.g. the date the offender was charged, the date the offender was cautioned, etc). The date the offender was proceeded against by police may not be the date when the offence occurred, or the date when the offender came to the attention of police. In some jurisdictions the data may reflect the date of record creation rather than date of action, however, this does not have a significant impact on the comparability of data across jurisdictions for offenders as there are no major lags between the two dates.

Offender counts

12 For the offender population, an offender is only counted once irrespective of how many offences they may have committed within the same incident or how many times they were dealt with by police during the reference period. All methods of proceedings are included in these counts (ie: court and non-court actions).

Police proceeding counts

13 For the police initiated proceeding population an offender may be counted more than once if proceeded against on separate occasions by police during the reference period. Data are presented for both court and non-court proceeding counts for all states and territories except Western Australia (refer to paragraph 44 of the Explanatory Notes).

Principal offence

14 Offence information presented in this publication relates to the most serious offence or principal offence allegedly committed by an individual offender during the reference period. These statistics are not designed to provide a count of the total number of individual offences that come to the attention of police.

15 For the offender counts, where a single offence is processed by police on a single date, the offender is assigned that offence as their principal offence. Where multiple offences are committed within the same incident on a single date by an offender, the offender is assigned a principal offence based on the most serious offence using the ABS National Offence Index (NOI). For more information about the NOI refer to paragraph 21. Offenders proceeded against by police on more than one occasion in the reference period are also assigned a principal offence on this same basis.

16 For the police initiated proceeding counts, offenders who are proceeded against more than once in the reference period are assigned a principal offence for each separate date of police action. The following diagram provides an illustration of the assigning of a principal offence and the resulting counts for both populations.

Diagram: Principal offence

Principal method of proceeding

17 As a person may be proceeded against for multiple offences, either in a single day or on different occasions, the various offences linked to that offender may result in different legal actions; that is, both court and non-court actions. For offender counts the method of proceeding will be determined by the principal offence assigned to that offender. For police proceeding counts, as offenders who are proceeded against more than once in the reference period are assigned a principal offence for each separate date of police action, they are also assigned the appropriate method linked to each principal offence.

18 For more information about these classifications refer to paragraphs 19-22 of the Explanatory Notes.


19 The national classifications used to collect and produce data about offenders are:
  • Australian Standard Offence Classification (ASOC);
  • National Offence Index (NOI); and
  • Method of Proceeding.

Australian Standard Offence Classification (ASOC), 2008

20 ASOC provides a uniform national classificatory framework for classifying offences across Australia for statistical purposes. The classification is a hierarchical structure allowing for varying degrees of detail to be published depending on the level of detail in the source information. Associated with each classification are coding rules which ensure that the counting of information is consistent across states and territories. The ABS released a revised edition of the ASOC in 2008 (second edition), and the offence information presented in this issue for both the 2007-08 and 2008-09 reference periods are based on the 2008 version of ASOC. Data presented in the 2007-08 issue of this publication were based on ASOC97 and are not comparable. For further information about ASOC refer to Australian Standard Offence Classification, 2008 (cat. no 1234.0).

National Offence Index (NOI), 2009

21 The NOI is a tool which provides an ordinal ranking of all ASOC Groups in ASOC according to perceived seriousness in order to determine a principal offence. The purpose of NOI is to enable the representation of an offender by a single offence in instances where multiple offences occur within the same incident or where offenders offend on more than one occasion in the reference period. For further information about NOI refer to National Offence Index, 2009 (cat. no 1234.0.55.001).

Method of Proceeding

22 The method of proceeding describes the type of legal action (court or non-court) initiated by police against a person as a result of an investigation of an offence(s). Note: The type of legal action may change as further investigation is undertaken by police. Not all changes made during the reference period may be reflected in this collection. The method of proceeding classification is a hierarchical classification. For detailed information about the classification refer to Appendix 2. For information about the counting methodology used for method of proceedings refer to paragraph 17 of the Explanatory Notes.


23 Offender rates are expressed as offenders per 100,000 of the ABS Estimated Resident Population (ERP). These rates generally accord with international and state and territory practice, and enable the comparison of the extent and type of offending across the individual states and territories, as well as a comparsion over time.

24 Rates for the offender population are calculated using the ERP as at the midpoint of the reference period (i.e. 31 December 2008). The ERP used in the calculation of these rates are for persons aged 10 years and over for all states and territories. Where rates are presented for an age group or a single year of age, the ERP used in the calculation of the rates refers to the relevant age group or single year of age.

25 For more information on ERP, see Australian Demographic Statistics, December quarter, 2008 (cat. no. 3101.0). For the offenders collection, all estimates and projections for the Australian Capital Territory exclude Jervis Bay Territory.

Indigenous offender rates

26 Indigenous offender rates are expressed per 100,000 Indigenous population aged 10 years or over. The offender rates presented in this issue for both the 2007-08 and 2008-09 reference periods are derived from Series B projections of the Indigenous population from the ABS Experimental Estimates and Projections, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, 1991 to 2021 (cat. no. 3238.0). These projections are based on data from the 2006 Census of Population and Housing and supersede the Indigenous projections data used for the calculation of offender rates in the 2007-08 issue of the Recorded Crime - Offenders, Selected states and territories publication, which had been based on 2001 Census of Population and Housing information.

27 Series B is one of two main projection series (Series A and B) that have been published for the years 2007 to 2021. Both of these series assume an annual decline of 0.5% in fertility rates; an annual increase of 1% in paternity rates; constant interstate migration at levels observed in the 2006 Census; and zero net overseas migration with no arrivals and no departures. Two different assumptions were made about future Indigenous life expectancy at birth for Australia:
  • in Series A, Indigenous life expectancy at birth will remain constant at 67.3 years for males and 73.0 years for females for the duration of the projection period; and
  • in Series B, Indigenous life expectancy at birth will increase by 0.3 years per year for both males and females, reaching 72.1 years for males and 77.8 years for females by 2021. This equates to an increase in life expectancy at birth of 5 years over the 15 year projection period for both males and females.

28 Rates for the non-Indigenous population are calculated using the total ERP of persons aged 10 years and over for each state or territory minus the projected Indigenous population aged 10 years and over.


29 This publication presents data on Indigenous offenders only for New South Wales, South Australia and the Northern Territory for both 2007-08 and 2008-09, and Queensland for 2008-09. Based on an ABS assessment, Indigenous data for offenders for other jurisdictions are not of sufficient quality for national reporting in 2008-09.

30 As the Indigenous status of an offender is based on self-identification by the individual who comes into contact with police, Indigenous identification is difficult to ascertain where police proceed by way of a summons, and/or a penalty/infringement notice which usually do not provide an opportunity for police to ask individuals to self-identify. The proportion of offenders proceeded against by police by way of a penalty notice during 2008-09 in New South Wales was 31%; in South Australia, 25%; and in the Northern Territory, 33%. In Queensland, less than 1% of offenders were proceeded against by way of a penalty notice.

31 To address the issue of high levels of Indigenous status "not stateds" due to the relatively high proportions of offenders proceeded against by a penalty notice, Indigenous status data in this publication for all four available states and territories exclude those offenders who are proceeded against by a penalty notice. The impacts on the overall proportion of "not stateds" for 2008-09 data are as follows:
  • New South Wales - decreases from 9% to 5%;
  • Queensland - remains constant at 12%;
  • South Australia - decreases from 39% to 11%; and
  • Northern Territory - decreases from 22% to 2%.

32 Note, the proportion of "not stateds" will vary by offence type.

33 The use of penalty/infringement notices by police is most prevalent with public order, illict drug, justice procedures, government security and operations, and miscellaneous offences. By removing those offenders who were proceeded against with a penalty notice primarily has resulted in reduced offender counts and rates for those four offence divisions, with the exception of Queensland. Total Indigenous counts and rates will also be affected slightly due to the loss of some offender counts for those penalties where there was a known Indigenous status.


34 National offender statistics are compiled in order to maximise comparability across states and territories. The Offenders collection has been designed to facilitate comparisons of states and territories through the application of common national statistical standards and counting rules. However, some legislative and processing differences remain. The following information highlights those processes unique to a jurisdiction that may have had an impact on the data for this collection. This may include recording practices, legislation or policy to combat particular types of crime.

New South Wales

35 During 2008-09, Criminal Infringement Notices were implemented state-wide in New South wales. In 2007-08, these notices were only trialed in 12 sites across New South Wales. As a result, non-court proceedings have increased.

36 From December 2008, official Warnings under the Young Offenders Act 1987 are recorded as Legal Actions (Warning YOA) with the use of lawpart codes that enable direct coding to ASOC. Data for 2008-09 includes Warnings YOA since December 2008. These methods were excluded prior to this period.


37 Victoria has a lower rate of public order offences, property damage and environmental pollution, and offences against justice than most other jurisdictions as most Victorian penalty/infringement notices are not included in data for this collection. These data are not included as the data resides with a third party (not Victoria Police) and are unable to be matched with offender data maintained by Victoria Police. Offender counts and rates for Victoria are underestimated as a result and caution should be exercised when comparing these offence types with other jurisdictions. Victorian traffic offence data are also maintained by an external party and are not available.

38 A trial Infringement Notice Project commenced in Victoria Police in July 2008 following the introduction of the Infringements and Other Acts Amendment Act 2008. This act lists a number of additional offences which are able to be dealt with by way of an infringement notice by police. In addition, police will have an ability to issue new official warning notices for most offences in the trial. This trial is for two years. The offences include the following:
  • failure of a person who is drunk to leave a licensed premises when requested
  • consuming or having liquor on unlicensed premises
  • shop theft under $600
  • wilful damage
  • indecent / obscene language
  • offensive behaviour

39 The issuing of these infringements or official warnings are recorded on Victoria Police's information system (LEAP) and have therefore been included in Victoria's counts for 2008-09.

40 The Crimes (Family Violence) Act was repealed on the 8th December 2008 and replaced by the Family Violence Protection Act which allows for easier and broader prosecution of family violence orders, with expected associated increases in the number of breaches (ASOC Division 15).


41 Indigenous status data for 2008-09 is considered to meet quality requirements for publication. Indigenous status data for 2007-08 were not considered to have met the required quality standards and were not published.

42 For public order offences, in comparison to other states and territories Queensland Police make greater use of arrest, summons, cautions, and notices to appear as an action against an offender, and only limited use of infringement/penalty notices. This results in Queensland police proceedings data having the highest proportion of overall proceedings which are police-initiated court proceedings.

43 Queensland has a relatively high number of principal offences with an unknown status. This is due to the Queensland police offender system containing reported offence details which are quite broad in their description, and where this occurs the offence may be deemed too broad to code to ASOC, resulting in it being listed as an Unknown Offence within ASOC.

Western Australia

44 Western Australia police utilise two separate offender recording systems for police purposes. The data for the Recorded Crime - Offenders collection is sourced from both systems. Data were successfully matched between the two systems to enable the production of offender counts and associated demographic and offence information. Data on police proceedings however could not be matched between these two systems resulting in an overestimate of the number of proceedings. Therefore data about police proceedings are not published. This affects Tables 3.4 and 3.10 and has resulted in national data not being available for police proceedings.

South Australia

45 Caution should be exercised with counts of offenders and proceedings with a principal offence of illicit drugs for South Australia as the data may be overstated. Data relating to offenders issued with Cannabis Expiation Notices (CEN) are stored on a separate infringements database and this information cannot be linked to other databases that store information about offenders who were proceeded against by police. Offenders with CEN's are effectively assigned a principal offence of illicit drugs. As offenders cannot be linked across the databases, if an offender has committed an offence in addition to a CEN then that offender may be counted as two separate offenders (ie. counted twice).

46 General Expiation Notices (GEN), usually issued for public order and justice offences, are also stored in an infringement database and cannot be linked with other police databases that contain information about offender who were proceeded against by police. While the impact to the offender counts and the associated principal offence counts associated with GENs are likely to be less than the impact for CENs, an offender may be counted twice if the person has committed an offence in addition to the GEN.

47 Both of the above impacts may overstate the total offender counts and rates for South Australia, as well as potentially affect the police proceedings count.


48 Public order offences increased from 2007-08 to 2008-09 due to the targetting of anti-social behaviour by Tasmania Police and new legislation in 2007 which expanded the areas of public spaces that were regulated in relation to "the consumption of legal substances in regulated spaces". Additional infringement notices and/or cautions were issued during this period..

49 Division 15 - Offences against justice procedures includes a small overcount due to offenders with a principal offence of Breach of Bail being incorrectly coded to ASOC 1569 rather than ASOC 1523 (Breach of Bail).

Northern Territory

50 The introduction of new legislation in 2007 in the Northern Territory resulted in an increase in the count of offenders with a principal offence of public order. This included the commencement of the Northern Territory Emergency Response (NTER) Act prohibiting alcohol in certain regions. New legislation implemented during 2008-09 targetting group criminal activities (ie riot and affray) also resulted in increased public order charges.

Australian Capital Territory

51 A number of policing strategies in the Australian Capital Territory has resulted in less people being proceeded against for breach of the peace or intoxication. Use of "move on" powers and "sobering up" shelters has contributed to a decline in public order offences from 2008-08.


52 Offence data for the 2007-08 issue of the publication were based on ASOC97, however offence data for 2007-08 in this issue has been re-extracted and provided on an ASOC08 basis. The re-extraction of the data has resulted in a number of offenders with a date of action for the period 1 July 2007 to 30 June 2008 who were not included in the extract that was received for the 2007-08 issue included in the revised 2008-08 extract; which has affected the total offender counts. This has resulted in revised 2007-08 data for all states and territories, except Western Australia.

53 There has been a change to the data used to derive Indigenous offender rates since the 2007-08 issue (refer to paragraphs 28-29 of the Explanatory Notes). Indigenous offender rates data have been revised for 2007-08 for New South Wales, South Australia and the Northern Territory.


Recorded Crime - Victims

54 There are strong links between victims and offenders recorded by police in their administrative systems as once a victim is recorded by police an investigation may ensue which could result, although not always, in an offender being proceeded against by police. However, a number of limitations exist between the Recorded Crime - Offenders collection and data from the Recorded Crime - Victims collection:
  • data cannot be directly linked;
  • counting units vary as the concept of a principal offence is not applied in the victims collection. Victims may be counted more than once if multiple offences reside in different ASOC divisions;
  • the reference period used in the victims collection is based on a calendar year, while the offenders collection is based on a financial year;
  • police may detect offending without a victim reporting a crime, or in instances of 'victimless' crimes, such as illicit drug offences or regulatory offences. These are excluded from the victims collection; and
  • statistics about victims of assault and sexual assault are not strictly comparable across the jurisdictions in the victims collection. As a result, comparisons should not be made using assault and sexual assault counts from both collections. For more information about the victims collection, refer to Recorded Crime - Victims, Australia (cat no. 4510.0).

55 Despite these differences broad comparisons can be made between the two collections.

Criminal Courts Data

56 Data relating to the number of police-initiated court proceedings are not strictly comparable to the number of defendants sourced from the Criminal Courts collection. Not all court related actions initiated by police will proceed to a criminal court as police proceedings may be withdrawn or changed to other legal actions by police during the course of an investigation. Furthermore, a defendant appearing in a criminal court in Australia may be prosecuted via charges initiated by authorities other than police. There will also be lags between when the police initiate action via a court method of proceeding and when a criminal court finalises a defendants case. In most cases the offender counts should be higher than defendant counts, however this may not be the case for all offence types due to charges laid by other authorities. For more information about criminal courts see Criminal Courts, Australia (cat. no. 4513.0) .


57 Table cells containing small values have been randomly adjusted to avoid releasing confidential information. Due to the randomisation process, totals may vary slightly across tables.


58 A standard set of additional tables containing state and territory equivalents of the tables in this publication is available on the ABS website. Special tabulations may be able to be produced on request to meet individual user requirements. For further information, contact the National Centre for Crime and Justice Statistics by email through <crime.justice@abs.gov.au> or the contact person listed on the front cover of this publication.


ABS publications

59 Other ABS publications which may be of interest include:
  • Australian Demographic Statistics (cat. no. 3101.0) - issued quarterly
  • Australian Social Trends (cat. no. 4102.0) - issued quarterly
  • Australian Standard Offence Classification, 2008 (cat. no. 1234.0) - irregular
  • Conceptual Framework for Family and Domestic Violence (cat. no. 4529) - single issue
  • Corrective Services, Australia (cat. no. 4512.0) - issued quarterly
  • Crime Victimisation, Australia (cat. no. 4530.0) - issued annually
  • Criminal Courts, Australia (cat. no. 4513.0) - issued annually
  • Experimental Estimates and Projections, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, 1991 to 2021 (cat. no. 3238.0) - issued five yearly
  • General Social Survey: Summary Results, Australia (cat. no. 4159.0) - four yearly
  • Information Paper: National Information Development Plan for Crime and Justice Statistics 2005 (cat. no. 4520.0) - single issue
  • Information Paper: National Criminal Justice Statistical Framework (cat. no. 4525.0) - single issue
  • Measures of Australia's Progress (cat. no. 1370.0) - issued biennially
  • National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey (cat.no.4714.0) - irregular
  • National Offence Index, 2009 (cat. no 1234.0.55.001) - irregular
  • Personal Safety Survey (cat. no. 4906.0) - irregular
  • Prisoners in Australia (cat. no. 4517.0) - issued annually
  • Year Book Australia (cat. no. 1301.0) - biennial

60 Current publications and other products released by the ABS are available from the ABS website <https://www.abs.gov.au>. The ABS website includes a Release Calendar detailing products to be released in the next six months. The National Centre for Crime and Justice Statistics within the ABS releases Crime and Justice News (cat. no. 4500.0), an annual newsletter that is published on the ABS website. The National Centre for Crime and Justice Statistics can be contacted by email <crime.justice@abs.gov.au>.

Non-ABS publications

61 Non-ABS sources which may be of interest include:
  • Australian Crime Commission, Australian Illicit Drug Report
  • Australian Federal Police, Annual Report
  • Australian Institute of Criminology, List of Publications <http://www.aic.gov.au>
  • Crime Research Centre, University of Western Australia, Crime and Justice Statistics for Western Australia
  • New South Wales Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research, New South Wales Recorded Crime Statistics
  • Office of Crime Prevention, Northern Territory Government, Northern Territory Quarterly Crime and Justice Statistics
  • Office of Crime Statistics and Research, South Australia, Crime and Justice in South Australia
  • Queensland Police Service, Statistical Review
  • Steering Committee for the Review of Government Service Provision, Report on Government Services
  • South Australian Police Department, Statistical Review Annual Report
  • Tasmanian Department of Police and Public Safety, Annual Report
  • Victoria Police, Crime Statistics