4513.0 - Criminal Courts, Australia, 2007-08 Quality Declaration 
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 25/02/2009   
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February 25, 2009
Embargoed: 11.30 am (AEDT)

Traffic offences up 13% in a year: ABS

The number of defendants in the Magistrates' Court for vehicle or traffic offences went up by 13% in 2007/08, according to figures released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

Vehicle or traffic offences represented nearly half (45%) the 565,800 adjudicated defendants finalised in the Magistrates' Courts in 2007/08; 33% were for driving licence offences, 25% for exceeding the prescribed content of alcohol and 12% for speeding - increases of 20%, 4% and 16% on the previous year respectively.

Nearly a third of defendants (29%) with traffic offences were aged under 25, while people over 45 were more likely to be charged with speeding than those under 25 (19% and 8% respectively).

Men accounted for three times as many defendants charged with road traffic offences than women.

Overall, vehicle or traffic offences have risen by 25% over the last five years, with the largest increase being for driving licence offences which have more than doubled (up 61%) in that time.

Other findings from the Courts include:

In the Higher Courts:
  • Nearly a quarter (23%) of adjudicated defendants were charged with acts intended to cause injury. Defendants with this offence rose by 6% from 2006-07. Of defendants under 25 this offence comprised just over one quarter (27%) of the total.
  • Sexual assault and illicit drug offences both increased by 8% from 2006-07.
  • More than a quarter (29%) of adjudicated defendants aged 45 and over were charged with sexual assault offences.
  • Adjudicated defendants with robbery/extortion offences increased by 6% from 2006-07, but there has been an overall decline of 19% since 2001-02.

In the Children's Courts:
  • There were 39,400 juvenile offenders finalised in the Children's court in 2007-08.
  • The largest proportion of defendants adjudicated (16%) were charged with acts intended to cause injury, followed by theft (14%). The number of adjudicated defendants with acts intended to cause injury increased by 8% from 2006-07.
  • Adjudicated defendants with robbery and extortion and road traffic/motor vehicle offences increased by 23% and 11% from 2006-07.

Further information is in Criminal Courts, Australia (cat. no. 4513.0), available for free download.

Media Note: Adjudicated refers to defendants finalised based on a judgement or decision by the courts as to a person's guilt of the charges laid against them. Offences relate to a defendants most serious charge.

When reporting on ABS data, please attribute either the Australian Bureau of Statistics or ABS as the source.