THE NATIONAL CRIME RECORDING STANDARD
As a result of the findings from the DiRCS project, the National Crime Recording Standard (NCRS) was developed to address the lack of uniform practices in initial police recording processes. The NCRS, comprising a uniform set of business rules and requirements, was developed in collaboration with police agencies across Australia to guide the recording and counting of criminal incidents for statistical purposes.
In evaluating the implementation of the NCRS and statistical impacts visible in the Recorded Crime - Victims collection, the ABS compared these data with state and territory data obtained from the Crime Victimisation Survey, observing that the assault data provided by police still had residual differences between jurisdictions that affected comparability. Through discussion of different business and recording practices with state and territory policing agencies, it was determined that one aspect of the NCRS had been interpreted and implemented differently across the jurisdictions. This rule concerns the point at which the incident should be recorded by police in crime recording systems.
Differences in the interpretation of the National Crime Recording Standard (NCRS)
While the application of the rules and requirements of the NCRS were designed to enable the recording of crime in a comparable manner across the jurisdictions, there is some variability in the interpretation of the rules, in particular the rule which guides what is recorded on police systems when an incident is reported to police.
An incident will be recorded as one or more offences if prima facie (on the face of it) and on the balance of probability (more probable than not):
- The circumstances as reported or detected amount to a crime defined by law and fall within the jurisdiction of the police agency; and
- There is not credible evidence to the contrary.
This rule provides a common basis for recording an incident with one or more offences according to the judgement of the police officer (as distinct from evidentiary or prosecutorial reasons).
This rule is intended to guide what is recorded on the police systems when an incident is reported to police. This rule has been interpreted and implemented by New South Wales, South Australia, Australian Capital Territory and Western Australia as requiring that when a victim reports an incident to police this report is taken at 'face value' and recorded as an incident on their crime recording system. An investigation will follow to determine whether a crime has been committed at law. For more information about NCRS impacts on the Recorded Crime - Victims collection, see paragraphs 42-49 of the Explanatory Notes. Note that there are different degrees to which this approach is applied across these jurisdictions.
For Victoria, Queensland and Tasmania, some element of an investigation will be undertaken before deciding whether to record an incident on their crime recording system. A record of the incident may be taken on other systems, however the incident will not be recorded on the police crime recording system until it is determined that a crime has been committed. Again, the degree to which this approach is taken across these states varies.
These issues of lack of comparability between jurisdictions apply only to assault and therefore cross-jurisdictional comparisons can be made for all other offence types in this publication. Issues around assault comparability are specific to this offence, due to a range of reasons:
- Different legislative definitions and requirements across jurisdictions;
- The ambiguity that can arise in determining what has occurred in an alleged assault incident;
- Difficulty in determining the role different parties have played in an assault incident; or
- Protocols that exist for reporting family and domestic violence and other specific types of assaults.
All of these factors can result in different counts for assault depending on when in the investigative process (before or during) a decision to record is made.
For more detailed information about the differences between crime victimisation data sources and the implications on data comparability, refer to the publication Measuring Victims of Crime: A Guide to Using Administrative and Survey Data, June 2011
(cat. no. 4500.0.55.001).