4513.0 - Criminal Courts, Australia, 2015-16 Quality Declaration 
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 02/03/2017   
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FDV EXPLANATORY NOTES

EXPERIMENTAL FAMILY AND DOMESTIC VIOLENCE STATISTICS

107 This release provides experimental data about defendants finalised in Australian state and territory criminal courts for selected Family and Domestic Violence (FDV) related offences within the 2015–16 reference period. These data are experimental and should be interpreted with caution, taking into account the factors described in these explanatory notes.

108 An FDV related offence refers to an offence that has been identified as FDV related in the criminal courts administrative data systems. What constitutes an FDV offence is defined by the relevant State and Territory legislation in each jurisdiction.

109 Data relating to FDV defendants has been published for the first time for this collection. Further work is required to develop and implement a uniform set of standards, classifications and business rules to guide the national recording and reporting of FDV related offences. As such, it is not recommended that the experimental statistics in this issue be compared between jurisdictions.

Family and Domestic Violence Indicator

110 Depending on the jurisdiction, the data presented in this release are based on an FDV indicator. This indicator has been compiled using a police initiated FDV flag transferred to the criminal courts as recorded by police agencies in their crime recording systems; a criminal courts derived flag using local legislative references; or allocation of a matter to an FDV specialist court list.

111 The FDV indicator used in the following jurisdictions is based on the police FDV flag:

  • Victoria;
  • Western Australia;
  • Northern Territory; and
  • Tasmania.

For these jurisdictions the FDV flag is transferred to the courts by police with information recorded by the prosecution

112 In New South Wales the recording of FDV offences is governed by the Crimes (Domestic and Personal Violence) Act 2007. The Act enables an FDV flag to be attached to the defendant record either when the charge is recorded or by the court.

113 Legislative amendments were enacted in Queensland in December 2015 which enables an offence to be recorded as FDV related. Queensland Criminal courts are now able to record an FDV offence by reference to s47 (9) of the Justices Act 1886 for charges lodged in the Magistrates’ Courts, and through reference to s564 (3A) of the Criminal Code Act 1899 for indictments lodged in the Supreme and Districts Courts (this includes Children’s Courts).

114 A composite method was used to derive an FDV indicator in the Australian Capital Territory Criminal Courts; a matter was recorded as FDV related in the criminal courts data if the matter had been flagged as FDV related by police and/or allocated to an FDV specialist court list.

115 Data for South Australia have not been included as the South Australia Criminal Courts do not receive the FDV flag and do not have FDV specific legislation that could be used to identify these types of offences.

Scope and coverage

116 The principal FDV offence is derived by first restricting the offences to the following FDV related person and property offences:
  • Homicide (ANZSOC Division 01);
  • Acts intended to cause injury (ANZSOC Division 02);
  • Sexual assault (ANZSOC Division 03);
  • Abduction, harassment and other offences against the person (ANZSOC Division 05);
  • Property damage (ANZSOC Sub-division 121); and
  • Breach of violence order (ANZSOC Sub-division 1531).

117 The FDV indicator is then applied to further restrict this subset of offences to only those that are FDV related. Principal FDV offence is then derived using the Method of Finalisation and National Offence Index ranking of the offences (see Explanatory note 23–25).

118 For some jurisdictions, the FDV flag is applied to the apprehension record. This means that where one offence on an apprehension record was identified as FDV related all offences on that apprehension record are flagged as FDV related. This may result in an over count of FDV offences.

119 Data are presented for the Higher, Magistrates’ and Children’s Court levels with the exception of Victoria and Tasmania. For these states, the Higher Courts were not able to provide FDV data for the purposes of the ABS Criminal Courts collection. However, data are presented for the Children’s and Magistrates’ court levels for these jurisdictions.

120 The Queensland Criminal Courts FDV indicator was applied based on legislation introduced on 1 December 2015 and as such was applied to only part of the 2015–16 reference period. FDV data for Queensland are not included in the Experimental FDV datacube but are presented separately as a Technical Note to the release. It is anticipated that data for Queensland will be included alongside other states in the 2016–17 release.

Experimental Family and Domestic Violence counting methodology

121 The principal counting unit for the Experimental FDV release is the finalised defendant. For more information see paragraph 29.

122 For the purposes of the Criminal Courts Experimental FDV data, a finalised defendant is defined as having one or more FDV related offences in the ABS criminal courts extract.

123 The secondary counting unit for this experimental release is FDV offence. Rather than apply an order of precedence to the offences for each defendant (to enable the defendant to be represented by one principal FDV offence) this unit allows for the counting of all FDV offences finalised. FDV offences have been presented by ANZSOC in Table 8 in Datacube 13. Note that some FDV offences will be counted more than once for a proven guilty offence if more than one sentence is handed down. Therefore the count of FDV offences may be overstated.

124 The third counting unit in this experimental release is co-occurring offences. Co-occurring offences shows the count of offences for finalised defendants who were finalised for a breach of intervention order and at least one other FDV related offence. A defendant may have multiple co-occurring offences and could be counted more than once. Co-occurring offences have been presented in Table 9 in Datacube 13.

State or territory specific issues

125 The legislation in New South Wales that enables the identification of offences as FDV related only applied to state offences during the 2015–16 reference period. Offences against Commonwealth legislation were therefore not able to be identified as FDV related in New South Wales. This will result in an undercount of those offences which are predominantly offences against Commonwealth legislation, for example, some offences coded to ANZSOC division 05 Abduction, harassment and other offences against the person. Some offences coded to this ANZSOC division will be prosecuted under state legislation.

126 In New South Wales, there may also be an undercount of 05 Abduction, harassment and other offences against the person as defendants charged with stalking, intimidation and harassment have been coded to ANZSOC offence group 029 Stalking. For more information see paragraph 75.

127 In Victoria, when a defendant attends court from custody their records are initiated manually in the court recording system, rather than via the usual automated process which populates the FDV flag from the police system using electronic file transfer. This will result in a lower than expected level of FDV flagging for certain offence types, in particular ANZSOC division 01 Homicide and related offences and 03 Sexual assault and related offences.

128 Western Australia Police utilise two separate crime recording systems for information about offenders. Data from one of these systems are used to provide prosecutions information to the Criminal Courts and is the source of data for the extract provided for the ABS Criminal Courts collection. In contrast data from both systems are provided for the Recorded Crime – Offenders collection. Data from both systems are matched to enable the production of offender statistics and associated demographic and offence information for the Recorded Crime – Offenders collection.

Confidentiality of FDV Tabular Data

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

Comment and further information

130 Users should note that the FDV data contained in this publication are considered to be experimental, and are subject to further evaluation. The ABS is interested in feedback from users of these statistics on any aspect of the release. Please send written feedback to: crime.justice@abs.gov.au.