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THE NATIONAL CRIME RECORDING STANDARD (NCRS)
National statistics require a level of uniformity when compiling data from different states and territories. A number of standards, classifications, and counting rules have been developed since the inception of this collection to improve national data comparability.
A National Crime Recording Standard (NCRS) was developed to address the lack of a uniform standard in the initial police recording processes. This standard complements the already established classifications and counting rules for the Recorded Crime – Victims collection and improves the level of comparability of these statistics across jurisdictions.
The NCRS, comprising a uniform set of business rules and requirements, has been developed in collaboration with police agencies across Australia to guide the recording and counting of criminal incidents for statistical purposes and enable consistency in recording. A comprehensive set of scenarios was also developed which underpin the rules and requirements of the NCRS and provides police agencies with guidance about how an incident should be recorded from the point at which it comes to police attention, to the point at which it is compiled into crime statistics. The main objective of the NCRS is to provide clear guidance to police agencies on the criteria to be considered when making a judgement as to what should be recorded on police recording systems to meet the requirements of national crime statistics reporting.
The application of the rules and requirements of the NCRS enable the recording of crime for statistical purposes in a comparable manner. At the same time, the NCRS still allows for the recording and retention of other kinds of operational information on police systems to support investigation and law enforcement operations. Given the nature of policing, many factors ultimately influence the level of recorded crime. Social, cultural and economic factors may influence the level of criminal offending, victimisation or the level of reporting to police. Recorded crime statistics are the by-product of an administrative recording system and will be affected by changes within that system. The introduction of new technologies or changes in police business practices and resources are also likely to influence levels of recorded crime, which may not necessarily reflect changes in the actual number of criminal incidents that occur within the community. Changes to legislation may also have an impact on the level of recorded crime and on the types of offences recorded over time and between states and territories.
The implementation of the NCRS has been progressively undertaken by states and territories in recent years to further improve the level of comparability across jurisdictions. The Recorded Crime Victims 2010 publication marked the first full year of data after NCRS implementation was undertaken by jurisdictions. Data in this publication are based on the second full year of data post NCRS implementation.
Residual data issues
While the NCRS has improved aspects of comparability of the Recorded Crime – Victims collection, some residual issues remain around the treatment of the offence of assault. The comparability of assault statistics across jurisdictions has been problematic. As part of the ABS ongoing commitment to ensuring national data comparability and quality, it has been determined that assault data will only be available for those jurisdictions deemed to be fully complying with the National Crime Recording Standard. While state and territory level data is available for New South Wales, South Australia, Western Australia, Northern Territory and Australian Capital Territory, national assault data is not available. For further information about differences across jurisdictions refer to Chapter 3 of this publication and the Explanatory Notes, paragraphs 36–47.