In 1990 the Commonwealth and the states and territories formed an Inter-Governmental Agreement regarding the establishment of the National Crime Statistics Unit (NCSU) as a National Common Police Service. The role of the NCSU is to initiate, coordinate and oversee the development and production of nationally consistent crime statistics. The NCSU first released data on victims of crime in May 1994, while Recorded Crime – Offenders data have been available since the 2007–08 reference period. This publication contains consistent data from the 2008–09 reference period onwards.
The statistics contained in the publication are provided from administrative systems maintained by state and territory police. Data have been compiled according to national standards in order to maximise consistency between the states and territories. The NCSU compiles, analyses, publishes and disseminates national offenders statistics subject to the provisions in the Census and Statistics Act 1905 (Cth).
For information on the institutional environment of the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), including the legislative obligations of the ABS, financing and governance arrangements, and mechanisms for scrutiny of ABS operations, please see ABS Institutional Environment.
Recorded Crime – Offenders (cat no. 4519.0) presents statistics about the characteristics of alleged offenders who were proceeded against by police during the period 1 July 2017 to 30 June 2018, for all states and territories. The collection presents information about alleged offenders aged 10 years and over. It also includes information about the most serious offence, referred to as the principal offence, associated with an alleged offender. 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.
Statistics are also presented on the number of proceedings that police initiated in the form of court and non-court actions during 2017–18 for all states and territories except Western Australia. For the proceeding population, an offender may be counted more than once if proceeded against on separate occasions by police during the reference period.
All criminal offences where police agencies have the authority to take legal action against an individual are included, except motor vehicle/traffic related offences and breach of bail. 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.
The Recorded Crime – Offenders collection is conducted annually for offenders who were proceeded against and recorded by police during the period 1 July to 30 June. Data and accompanying data cubes are expected to be released within 8 months of the reference period. Each release includes data for the current reference year, along with comparisons of data with previous time periods for some data items.
Recorded Crime – Offenders data are extracted from administrative systems maintained by state and territory police. The data are not subject to sampling error. Non-sampling errors can arise from inaccuracies in recording by police agencies, or when the data are extracted, processed and disseminated. The ABS has limited influence over any errors associated with data recorded by external sources. The ABS provides a collection manual which outlines the scope, coverage, counting rules and data item definitions for the Recorded Crime – Offenders collection to minimise data extraction errors. Efficient processing and editing procedures are in place within the ABS to minimise processing and reporting errors. Data were quality assured by the custodians of the source data to mitigate against the risk of any errors introduced during data processing being published.
Published data are revised as required to ensure the series presents the most up to date statistics. Revisions to historical data are made when new information about the comparability of data over time is identified. This may occur when errors or omissions are identified in the administrative data supplied to the ABS in prior years.
In order to ensure consistency in the data for each state and territory, Recorded Crime – Offenders statistics are compiled according to national standards and classifications. The collection uses the Australian and New Zealand Standard Offence Classification, 2011 (cat. no. 1234.0) to classify offence types and applies a set of national counting rules to establish the number of offenders and police proceedings. However, some differences still occur due to state and territory legislation, different recording practices, different policies across jurisdictions to combat particular types of crime, and limitations of the various administrative databases that are used to extract the data. The statistical impacts of these are detailed in the Explanatory Notes.
Due to differing scope and counting rules, the data in the Recorded Crime – Offenders publication are not strictly comparable with data published in other national and state/territory publications (many of which deal with reported offences, rather than unique offenders); however, broad comparisons can still be made.
The Recorded Crime – Offenders publication contains detailed Explanatory Notes and a Glossary that provide information on the data sources, counting rules, terminology, classifications and other technical aspects associated with these statistics.
Offender rates are included in the publication to assist in the comparison of offender populations across states and territories. Offender rates by Indigenous status, both crude and age standardised, are included to allow for meaningful comparisons of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous offender populations.
In addition to the information provided in the publication, data cube tables are also available providing detailed breakdowns by state and territory. Please refer to the Downloads tab for the products that are available from this collection.
If the required information is not available from the publication or the data cubes, the National Information and Referral Services may be able to help you with a customised service to suit your needs. Contact 1300 135 070 or email <email@example.com>.