4524.0 - In Focus: Crime and Justice Statistics, December 2011  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 01/12/2011   
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NATIONAL SNAPSHOT

Over half of all Australians aged 18 years and over believe there is at least one social disorder issue in their local area.

Over 10 million Australians aged 18 years and over (60.8%) believed there was at least one social disorder issue in their local area in the 12 months preceding the survey. The survey found that noisy driving and dangerous driving were the two most commonly perceived social disorder issues in Australia, with just over a third of all Australians believing that these two issues were present in their local area (36.2% and 34.7% respectively).

PROPORTION OF RESPONDENTS IDENTIFYING EACH SOCIAL DISORDER ISSUE(a)
Graph showing that noisy driving and dangerous driving were the two most commonly perceived social disorder issues in Australia

One in five Australians consider at least one of the social disorder issues in their local area to be a large problem.

Although the majority of respondents stated that the social disorder issues in their local area were small or moderate problems, one in five Australians reported the presence of at least one social disorder issue in their local area that they considered to be a large problem (20.0%). People using or dealing drugs was the issue most likely to be considered a large problem (33.8%), despite it being the least commonly perceived social disorder issue (8.1%). It has been suggested that the presence of drugs in the community can be particularly alarming for residents, as it may be interpreted as a sign that more serious criminal activity is occurring (i.e. organised crime), and raises fears that individuals using drugs in the community are more likely to engage in antisocial behaviour or offend (Endnote 5).

PROPORTION OF RESPONDENTS RATING EACH SOCIAL DISORDER ISSUE AS A LARGE PROBLEM(a)(b)
Graph showing that people using or dealing drugs was the issue most likely to be considered a large problem

Personal experience or observation was the greatest influence on people’s opinions about social disorder issues.

Nearly all respondents that perceived a moderate or large social disorder issue in their local area had personally seen or experienced it (98.2%). Just under a quarter of respondents (23.1%) reported being influenced by someone they know in their opinion of at least one moderate or large issue, whilst 14.5% reported being influenced by information from the media.

Relative to the other social disorder issues, persons identifying people using or dealing drugs as a moderate or large problem were significantly less likely to be influenced by personal experience or observation (77.0%). Conversely, they were significantly more likely to be influenced by the experiences of someone known to them (36.4%) and information from the media (27.0%), relative to the other social disorder issues. The often discreet and concealed nature of drug-related criminal activity may reduce the likelihood of individuals personally experiencing or coming into direct contact with this issue (Endnote 6).

PERCEIVED SOCIAL DISORDER ISSUES – HOW OPINION WAS INFLUENCED(a)(b)


(a) More than one influential factor may be reported so components may not add to 100%.
(b) Expressed as a percentage of total respondents identifying the social disorder issue and rating it as a moderate or large problem.


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