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3 The scope of the collection includes all 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. Depending on the type and seriousness of the offence committed, police will either initiate a court or non-court action.
5 The scope excludes the following:
6 Due to quality and/or comparability issues, or an inability to supply data to the ABS, the statistics presented in this publication exclude the following:
7 The statistics in this collection relate to offenders proceeded against by police during the reference period 1 July 2013 to 30 June 2014. Additionally, selected statistics are available for the 2008-09 to 2012-13 reference periods.
8 The main counting unit for this collection is the offender, represented in the statistics in datacubes 1 to 4. Datacube 5 uses "police proceedings" as the counting unit.
9 The following information provides an explanation as to how offenders and police proceedings are treated and counted in this collection.
Date of action
10 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.
11 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 proceeding are included in these counts (i.e. court and non-court actions).
Police proceeding counts
12 For the police 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 proceedings.
13 Offence information presented in this publication relates to the 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.
14 For the offender counts, where a single offence is processed by police during the reference period, the offender is assigned that offence as their principal offence. Where multiple offences are committed by an offender, they are assigned a principal offence using the ABS National Offence Index (NOI). For more information about the NOI refer to paragraph 45.
15 For the police 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.
Principal method of proceeding
17 Offender rates are expressed as the number of offenders per 100,000 of the ABS Estimated Resident Population (ERP). This method derives what are sometimes referred to as "crude rates". 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 comparison over time.
18 Rates for the offender population are calculated using the ERP as at the midpoint of the reference period (eg. 31 December 2013 for the 2013-14 reference period).
19 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 a sex or age group, the ERP used in the calculation of the rates refers to the relevant sex or age group.
20 ERP estimates and projections applied for the Australian Capital Territory exclude Jervis Bay Territory. All estimates and projections for Australia exclude the external territories of Christmas Island and Cocos (Keeling) Islands.
21 For more information on the ERP, see Australian Demographic Statistics, June quarter, 2014 (cat. no. 3101.0).
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander offender rates
22 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander offender rates are expressed per 100,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population aged 10 years and over. This method derives what are sometimes referred to as "crude rates". The offender rates presented in this issue are derived from the estimated population for the years 2009 to 2011, as well as the Series B projections of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population, from the ABS publication Estimates and Projections, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, 2001 to 2026 (cat. no. 3238.0).
23 Series B is one of three main projection series (Series A, B and C) that have been published for the years 2011 to 2026. Series B assumes 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 2011 Census; and zero net overseas migration with no arrivals and no departures. It also assumes Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander life expectancy at birth will increase by 0.3 years per year for males and 0.25 years per year for females, reaching 73.5 years for males and 77.4 years for females by 2026.
24 The population estimates and projections used to derive offender rates are as at 30 June at the end of the reference period.
25 These projections are based on data from the 2011 Census of Population and Housing and supersede the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander projections data used for the calculation of offender rates in the 2012-13 issue of this publication.
26 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 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population aged 10 years and over.
Age standardisation of offender rates
27 Age standardisation is a statistical method that adjusts crude rates to account for age differences between study populations.
28 There are differences in the age distributions between Australia's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous populations, with the former having a much younger population. In 2001, the proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 18 years and over was 55%, compared with 76% of non-Indigenous people (and 75% of the total Australian population). The diagram below illustrates the differences in age distributions.
29 ESTIMATED RESIDENT POPULATION, AUSTRALIA - 30 JUNE 2001
30 Due to the differing age profiles, using crude rates to examine differences between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous populations may lead to erroneous conclusions being drawn about variables that are correlated with age.
31 By making comparisons across age groups, we know that offender rates decrease in older age groups, that is, that the offender rate is correlated with age. If we compare overall offender rates between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous persons, it is likely that the offender rate in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population will be higher because of the larger proportion of young people in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population. Therefore, age standardised Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous offender rates have been presented in Table 16. Ratios of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander to non-Indigenous age standardised rates are also included in these tables.
32 The standard population used for age standardisation is the total Australian Estimated Resident Population at 30 June 2001. The standard population is revised every twenty five years; the next revision will be based on final data from the 2026 Census of Population and Housing.
ABORIGINAL AND TORRES STRAIT ISLANDER OFFENDERS
33 This publication only presents data about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander offenders for New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia and the Northern Territory. Based on ABS assessment, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander offenders data for other jurisdictions are not of sufficient quality and/or do not meet ABS standards for self-identification for national reporting in 2013-14.
34 As the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander status of an offender is based on self-identification by the individual who comes into contact with police, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander identification is difficult to ascertain where police proceed by way of a penalty notice as this method does not usually provide an opportunity for police to ask individuals to self-identify. The proportion of all offenders proceeded against by police by way of a penalty notice during 2013-14 was:
35 Given the high levels of 'not stated' Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander status for offenders proceeded against by a penalty notice, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander status data in this publication excludes penalty notices. For 2013-14, the impact of removing penalty notices on the proportion of 'not stated' values for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander status was as follows:
36 The proportion of offenders with a 'not stated' Indigenous status varies by offence type.
37 The use of penalty notices by police is most prevalent for Public order offences, Illicit drug offences, Offences against justice and Miscellaneous offences. The removal of those offenders who were proceeded against via a penalty notice results in reduced offender counts and rates for these four offence divisions in particular. Total Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander counts and rates are also affected by the removal of penalty notices where there is a known Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander status.
38 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander status data are not received for offenders issued with drug diversions in South Australia. This is the reason for the high proportion of offenders with an unknown Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander status for Illicit drug offences in South Australia.
39 The national classifications used to collect and produce data about offenders are:
Australian and New Zealand Standard Offence Classification (ANZSOC), 2011
40 ANZSOC provides a uniform national framework for classifying offences across Australia and New Zealand 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 the classification are coding rules which ensure that the counting of information is consistent across states and territories.
41 An offence classification was first developed in this format in 1997 called the Australian Standard Offence Classification (ASOC). A second edition of the ASOC was released in 2008 which contained updates to improve coverage to cater for offences of emerging importance; increase relevance and usability; and maintain comparability and continuity. In 2011, the offence classification was updated from the Australian Standard Offence Classification (ASOC) to the Australian and New Zealand Standard Offence Classification (ANZSOC); however changes were not made to the content of the classification. For further information about ANZSOC refer to Australian and New Zealand Standard Offence Classification, 2011 (cat. no. 1234.0).
42 The offence information presented in this issue for the reference periods 2008-09 to 2013-14 is based on the 2011 version of ANZSOC. Data presented in the 2007-08 issue of this publication are based on ASOC 1997 and are not comparable.
43 For ease of reading, some ANZSOC offence terms have been abbreviated throughout this publication. The term 'and related offences' has been omitted from the following ANZSOC offence names:
44 In addition, the following ANZSOC offence terms have been abbreviated as follows:
National Offence Index (NOI), 2009
45 The NOI (published in National Offence Index, 2009 (cat. no. 1234.0.55.001)) is a tool which provides an ordinal ranking of offence categories in ANZSOC according to perceived seriousness in order to determine a principal offence. The purpose of the 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 are proceeded against by police on more than one occasion in the reference period. Refer to Appendix 2 for a copy of the NOI.
Method of Proceeding Classification
46 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). 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 3. For information about the counting methodology used for methods of proceeding refer to paragraphs 15-16.
47 National offender statistics are compiled in order to maximise comparability across states and territories. This 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 differences in recording practices, legislation or policy to combat particular types of crime.
New South Wales
48 From 1 May 2012 the NSW Police Force took over the role of policing the state's public transport network, through a dedicated Police Transport Command of 610 officers. This has led to increases in 2012-13 and 2013-14 in the number of offenders and proceedings in some ANZSOC categories, including Theft (due to fare evasion) and Public order offences. These offences are most often proceeded against by way of a penalty notice.
49 From September 2011, the offence 'continue intoxicated and disorderly' was added to the list of offences for which a penalty notice may be issued.
50 Verbal Warning and Compliance Notice were two non-court proceedings included for the first time in 2009-10. They relate mainly to licensing enforcement (i.e. liquor, security industry, firearms). The Verbal Warning is a less formal process which informs the person that some breach(es) of regulations need to be corrected. The Compliance Notice is a written warning with a stipulated time period within which the breach(es) must be corrected.
51 Prior to 2009-10, data for most Victorian Penalty Infringement Notices (PINs) were not available, as data were collected and maintained by a third party and not by Victoria Police. As a result, offender counts and rates for Victoria and Australia were underestimated. PINs data were supplied for the first time in the 2009-10 cycle for both 2008-09 and 2009-10 and have been provided for subsequent years. Caution should be used with comparing the 2009-10 and subsequent publications with previous versions.
52 In July 2008 a trial Infringement Notice Project commenced in Victoria to allow the following offences to be dealt with by police using a penalty/infringement notice:
The trial is ongoing for offences 1 and 2 above, while penalty notices can now be issued for the remaining offences.
53 The Crimes (Family Violence) Act was repealed on 8 December 2008 and replaced by the Family Violence Protection Act which allowed for easier and broader prosecution of family violence orders. This resulted in increases in the number of breaches (ANZSOC Division 15).
54 For Public order offences, in comparison with 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 penalty notices. This results in Queensland having the highest proportion of court actions of any state or territory.
55 The issuing of infringement notices or 'e-ticketing' by Queensland Police for public nuisance offences commenced from 8 November 2010. These offences include: public nuisance, public urination, obstruct police officer (in relation to the aforementioned public nuisance or public urination) and contravene requirement of a police officer (in relation to stating correct name and address regarding the above).
56 Queensland has a relatively high number of offenders with an unknown principal offence. This is due to the Queensland Police offender system containing reported offence details which are quite broad in their description. Where this occurs the offence may not be able to be coded to ANZSOC, resulting in the principal offence being listed as "unknown".
57 South Australia Police have provided data for formal cautions/warnings and conferences for the first time in 2013-14. These data relate to juvenile offenders only, as these methods of proceeding are not used to proceed against adult offenders. The inclusion of these methods of proceeding resulted in an increase in the proportion of non-court actions in 2013-14.
58 Caution should be exercised when interpreting counts of offenders and proceedings with a principal offence of Illicit drug offences for South Australia as the data may be overstated. Data relating to offenders issued with Cannabis Expiation Notices (CENs) and drug diversions are stored on separate infringement databases and this information cannot be linked to other databases that store information about offenders. As the databases cannot be linked, if an offender committed an offence in addition to a CEN, then they may be counted twice, resulting in an over count of the total number of offenders, rates and police proceedings for South Australia. Furthermore, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander status data are not captured for drug diversions or CENs and are recorded as 'not stated'.
59 General Expiation Notices (GENs) may be issued for Public order offences and Offences against justice and are stored on an infringement database that cannot be linked with other police databases that contain information about offenders. As a result, offenders with a principal offence of Public order offences or Offences against justice may be overstated as an offender may be counted twice if they have committed an offence in addition to the GEN during the same reference period.
60 Western Australia police utilise two separate offender recording systems. Data for this collection are 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 over count in the number of proceedings. Therefore, data relating to police proceedings for Western Australia are not published. This affects Tables 9, 10 and Chapter 5 and has resulted in national data not being available for police proceedings and the number of times an offender is proceeded against by police.
61 Between 2012-13 and 2013-14 there were increases in the number of offenders with a principal offence of Fraud / Deception. This included a number of older incidents finalised by the Western Australia Police Fraud Squad during the 2013-14 reference period.
62 From 4 April 2011, Tasmanian Police were only able to proceed against youth offenders for minor drug offences under the Youth Justice Act 1997, rather than give Illicit Drug Diversion Initiative cautions and diversions. This resulted in an increased number of court actions for youth offenders for Illicit drug offences between 2009-10 and 2010-11.
63 For the Recorded Crime Offenders 2010-11 collection, Tasmanian Police undertook a review of their ANZSOC mappings and implemented coding changes that impacted on some principal offence divisions for the 2009-10 and 2010-11 reference periods, most notably Divisions 04 Dangerous or negligent acts endangering persons, Division 07 Unlawful entry with intent, Division 08 Theft and related offences and Division 13 Public order offences. For details about these coding changes, refer to the Explanatory Notes of the 2010-11 issue of this publication.
64 Minor coding changes were made by Tasmania Police in 2011-12, with the most notable impact being the movement of some offenders previously coded to ANZSOC 1322 Liquor and tobacco offences to ANZSOC 1541 Resist or hinder government official (excluding police officer, justice official or government security officer) and ANZSOC 1562 Resist or hinder police officer or justice official.
65 In addition, minor coding changes were made by Tasmania Police in 2012-13, with the most notable impact being the movement of some offenders previously coded to ANZSOC 1312 Criminal Intent to ANZSOC 1121 Unlawfully obtain or possess regulated weapons/explosives and ANZSOC 1122 Misuse of regulated weapons/explosives. Comments have been applied to affected cells in the data cubes.
66 Offence data for juvenile offenders are predominantly coded to an ANZSOC division level supplementary code (for example, 0800 Theft and related offences, not further defined). Many of the ANZSOC division level supplementary codes are unranked on the National Offence Index (NOI), which results in some offenders being coded to an "unknown" principal offence.
67 There are a small proportion of offenders that come into contact with police who are unable to provide their exact date of birth. In these situations, where only a birth year is provided, police may allocate a nominal birth date or alternatively, police may record the offender's date of birth as unknown.
Australian Capital Territory
68 Criminal Infringement Notices (CINs) were introduced on 24 December 2009 for a range of minor public order offences, including defacing premises, urinating in public, failing to comply with noise abatement direction and consuming liquor in a prescribed public place. CINs are aimed at having an immediate deterrent effect on an offender while providing an alternative to court action. These offences are not recorded on the primary Australian Capital Territory police recording system.
69 Caution should be exercised when interpreting data on counts of offenders and proceedings for the ACT. As the CINs data are recorded on a separate system, this information cannot be linked to other databases that store information about offenders. Therefore, if an offender has committed an offence in addition to a CIN then that offender may be counted twice. This may result in an over count of the total number of offenders, rates and police proceedings for the Australian Capital Territory.
70 Data for the 2008-09, 2009-10, 2010-11, 2011-12 and 2012-13 reference years have been revised since the previous issue of this publication. See paragraphs 71-74 below for more details. The revisions are incorporated in the data cubes available in this publication. Users are advised against making comparisons between data in this issue and in previous issues of the publication, as data may not be directly comparable.
71 In 2012-13 and 2011-12, some offences in South Australia were coded to ANZSOC supplementary codes (for example, 1530 Breach of violence and non-violence orders, not further defined). Many of the ANZSOC supplementary codes are unranked on the National Offence Index (NOI), which resulted in some offenders being coded to an "unknown" principal offence. For this issue of the publication, these supplementary codes were able to be recoded into more detailed ANZSOC categories, and data for 2012-13 and 2011-12 were revised. This led to a reduction in offenders coded to an "unknown" principal offence in those years, and consequent increases in other ANZSOC divisions.
72 In South Australia, data relating to offenders issued with drug diversions are stored on a separate infringement database to the main offenders database, and offenders cannot be linked between systems. In 2012-13, however, a system error caused some offenders to be incorrectly linked together. This led to an undercount of the total number of offenders. The error has now been rectified, resulting in a small positive revision to the number of South Australian offenders in 2012-13.
73 A thorough review of the Offenders processing system in 2013-14 led to the discovery of a small error in the calculation of Indigenous Status in the collection. The error resulted in more offenders being coded to "non-Indigenous" and "not stated", and less offenders being coded to "Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander". This issue predominantly affected data for New South Wales and Queensland, with minimal impact on South Australia and the Northern Territory. Revisions have been applied in this publication for the years 2008-09 to 2012-13.
74 In April 2014, the ABS published backcast historical population estimates, and updated population projections for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander persons for the period 2001–2026. This was based on the 2011 Census of Population and Housing, and published in Estimates and Projections, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, 2001 to 2026 (cat. no. 3238.0). As a result, the offender rates presented for both the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population and the non-Indigenous population for the years 2008-09 to 2012-13 in this publication have been revised.
COMPARISONS TO OTHER ABS DATA
Recorded Crime - Victims
75 There are strong links between victims and offenders recorded by police in their administrative systems. 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, there are a number of limitations in comparing the Recorded Crime - Offenders collection and the Recorded Crime - Victims collection:
76 Despite these differences, broad comparisons can be made between the two collections.
77 For more detailed information about data comparability in relation to the Recorded Crime - Victims collection and more generally about using administrative and survey data, refer to the information paper, Measuring Victims of Crime: A Guide to Using Administrative and Survey Data, June 2011 (cat. no. 4500.0.55.001).
78 For more information about the Recorded Crime - Victims collection, refer to Recorded Crime - Victims, Australia (cat. no. 4510.0).
79 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 actions initiated by police will proceed to a criminal court as police proceedings may be withdrawn or changed to other legal actions 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 state and territory 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 defendant's 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 refer to Criminal Courts, Australia (cat. no. 4513.0).
80 The Census and Statistics Act 1905 provides the authority for the ABS to collect statistical information, and requires that statistical output shall not be published or disseminated in a manner that is likely to enable the identification of a particular person or organisation. This requirement means that the ABS must ensure that any statistical information about individuals cannot be derived from published data.
81 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 Recorded Crime - Offenders collection for the first time for the 2013-14 release. Perturbation involves 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.
82 After perturbation, a given published cell value will be consistent across all tables. However, the sum of 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.
83 Cells with relatively 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.
84 Perturbation has been applied to the 2013-14 data as well as historical 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 publication and those published in previous issues of this publication.
85 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 at
86 Other ABS publications which may be of interest are listed on the Related Information tab.
87 The ABS web site includes a release calendar detailing products to be released in the next six months.
88 Non-ABS sources which may be of interest include:
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