TableBuilder: Crime Victimisation, Australia

Provides data about victims for a selected range of personal and household offences

Introduction

This guide provides information about the release of microdata on Crime Victimisation from the ABS 2012–13 Multipurpose Household Survey (MPHS). The MPHS is conducted each year throughout Australia from July to June and is designed to provide annual statistics for a number of small, self–contained topics.

Microdata are the most detailed information available from a survey and are generally the responses to individual questions on the questionnaire or data derived from two or more questions. They are released with the approval of the Australian Statistician.

This guide should be used as a reference document when accessing the microdata file as it explains the data content, technical details and the conditions of use.

Available products

Microdata for the Crime Victimisation topic are available through the TableBuilder product – an online tool for creating tables and graphs that can be accessed from the ABS website.

Further information about TableBuilder and about microdata in general is available from the Microdata Entry Page on the ABS website.

Users wishing to access the Crime Victimisation TableBuilder are required to apply online. All users are required to agree to the terms and conditions of use before access can be granted. To apply for access press the green button below:

Apply for Microdata

Data available on request

Some data collected in the survey may not be included on the TableBuilder file but may be available on request, on a fee-for-service basis. Subject to confidentiality and sampling variability constraints, special tabulations can be produced incorporating data items, populations and geographic areas selected to meet individual requirements. Contact us for further information.

Privacy

The ABS Privacy Policy outlines how the ABS handles any personal information that you provide to us.

Survey methodology

General information about the 2012–13 MPHS Crime Victimisation topic, including summary results, are available in the publication Crime Victimisation, Australia, 2012–13 (cat. no. 4530.0). All summary tables, in Excel spreadsheet format, can be accessed from the Crime Victimisation Downloads page. Detailed information about the survey including scope and coverage, survey design, data collection methodology, weighting, benchmarking and estimation and the reliability of estimates can be accessed from the Crime Victimisation Explanatory Notes page.

For the 2012-13 MPHS, one person aged 15 years and over in each sampled household was selected at random (based on a computer algorithm) and asked the various MPHS topic questions in a personal interview. If the randomly selected person was aged 15–17 years, permission was sought from a parent or guardian before conducting the interview. If permission was not given, the parent or guardian was asked the crime questions on behalf of the 15–17 year old. Questions on whether alcohol or other substances contributed to the most recent physical or face-to-face threatened assault were not asked of these proxy respondents. Therefore, the data for these items only represent the responses from 15-17 year old respondents who were personally interviewed. As they do not represent all 15-17 year olds, this entire age group should be excluded when producing tables related to the contribution of alcohol or other substances to physical or face-to-face threatened assaults. Publication tables using these data items relate only to those aged 18 years and over.

Only persons aged 18 years and over were asked questions on sexual assault. Proxy respondents representing 15-17 year olds were not asked questions about sexual assault.

File structure

The 2012-13 MPHS asked 30,749 respondents across Australia about a range of crimes to determine whether they had been a victim in the 12 months before enumeration in the survey. Victims were asked a series of questions about certain aspects of the crimes committed against them and their household such as the location of the incident; their relationship, if any, to the offender; and whether the crime had been reported to police.

Responses to each of these questions, along with a range of socio-demographic data are included on the TableBuilder file. This microdata has been allocated to one of two levels:

  1. Socio-demographic and Personal Crime Level Data Items
  2. Household Crime Level Data Items

The Socio-demographic and Personal Crime Level contains characteristic data about each respondent including their age, sex, marital status, employment, education and personal income. This level also has some information about the households in which respondents live including the number of children present aged less than 15 and the overall household income. In addition, the Socio-demographic and Personal Crime Level includes broad locational data items such as the respondent's state or territory of usual residence. Crimes that have been committed against the respondent (not members of their household) such as assaults are also part of this level.

The Household Crime Level contains data on crimes committed against any member of the household. Specifically, these crimes relate to break-ins, theft and property damage. Often the items stolen or the property damaged are jointly owned by members of a household so cannot be allocated to an individual. Consequently, for the purpose of this survey these are considered household crimes.

The following image shows the levels including the sub–categories under which the individual data items have been grouped. A complete data item list can be accessed from the Data downloads section.

Data item structure

Using TableBuilder

For general information relating to TableBuilder or instructions on how to use features of the TableBuilder product, please refer to the User Manual: TableBuilder (cat. no. 1406.0.55.005)

Outlined below is more specific information relevant to the Crime Victimisation TableBuilder. This information should help users better understand and interpret the data.

Counting units and weights

Weighting is the process of adjusting results from a sample survey to infer results for the total population. To do this, a 'weight' is allocated to each record. The weight is the value that indicates how many population units are represented by each sample unit.

Both person and household estimates can be obtained from the Crime Victimisation TableBuilder. Each type of estimate uses a different weight (or 'Summation Option') and it is essential that the correct one is selected when specifying tables. Weights are selected from the Summation Options, as shown below:

Summation Options

Generally, as the Socio-demographic and Personal Crime Level relates to people a person weight is attached in the Summation Options. Similarly, as the Household Crime Level relates to households a household weight is attached.

However, the default weight when producing any table using the Crime Victimisation TableBuilder is the person weight (in bold in the image above) which is automatically applied to any table being generated. If generating a table from the Household Crime Level, the weight will usually need to be changed. A weight shown in bold, such as in the image above, indicates the weight being used in the table. Placing a tick in a 'Sum' tick box and then adding it to a row or column in the table will select a different weight.

While the default is person weight, it is also possible to specifically select person weight through Summation Options. To estimate the number of persons with certain characteristics (e.g. 'Number of assaults experienced by a person in the last 12 months') the weight listed under the category heading Socio-demographic and Personal Crime Level must be used. To specifically select a person weight through Summation Options:

  1. Click on the blue triangle 'twistie' next to the Summation Options line
  2. Ensure all 'Sum' tick boxes are blank
  3. Click on the Socio-demographic and Personal Crime Level 'twistie'
  4. Click on the Person Weight 'twistie'
  5. Click on the Sum tick box
  6. Add the person weights to your table by clicking on add to row or add to column

To estimate the number of households with certain characteristics (e.g. 'Number of break-ins experienced by households in the last 12 months') the household weight listed under the category heading Household Crime Level must be used. The same process as above can be followed, ticking the 'Sum' tick box under the Household Crime Level 'twistie' instead.

The following table summarises the weights recommended for use with each of the levels:

LevelSummation option weightsUnit of measure
Socio-demographic and Personal Crime LevelNumber of Socio-demographic and Personal crime data itemsPerson
Household Crime LevelHousehold Crime Level Data ItemsHousehold
Household Crime Level x Socio-demographic and Personal Crime Level (except Demographics, Education, Labour Force, Personal Income)Household Crime Level Data ItemsHousehold

Continuous data items

Some continuous data items are allocated special codes for certain responses (e.g. 9999 = 'Not applicable'). When creating ranges for such continuous items, special codes are NOT included. Totals, therefore, represent only 'valid responses' for continuous data items rather than all responses (including special codes).

For example:

The following table shows the responses for 'Weekly personal income from all sources' by 'Sex of person'. The continuous values of the data item are contained in the 'A valid response was recorded' row. If the actual continuous values are to be displayed then it is necessary to create a range for them.

Table demonstrating continuous data item

Here is the same table with a range applied for the continuous values of 'Weekly personal income from all sources' (IncExample). Note that the numbers of respondents for the other responses 'Not applicable', 'Valid reading not obtained' and 'Not measured' no longer contribute to the table.

Table demonstrating continuous data item in ranges

Any special codes for continuous data items are listed in the Data Item List.

Selecting data items for cross-tabulation

Apart from the Field Exclusion Rules that are applied in TableBuilder, there are minimal restrictions on the items that can be selected to appear in a table. That is, generally, users are able to cross-tabulate any variable with any other variable on the file. However, often the resulting table is not logical. For example, 'Whether household experienced a break-in in the last 12 months' by 'Whether weapon used in most recent incident of physical assault' cross-tabulates two different types of crimes which have no meaningful connection.

The following table summarises when variables should and should not be cross-tabulated.

 Socio-demographic and Personal Crime Data ItemsHousehold Crime Level Data Items
Socio-demographic and Personal Crime Data Items
Geography
DemographicsX
Exception: Index of relative socio-economic index disadvantage - Deciles
Household Demographics
EducationX
Labour ForceX
Income (see rows below)
Household Income
Personal IncomeX
Crime Person LevelX
Household Crime Level Data ItemsSee column 3

Field exclusion rules

To ensure confidentiality, TableBuilder prevents the cross-tabulation of certain variables which could result in respondents being identified. These are known as field exclusion rules. In the Crime Victimisation TableBuilder these restrictions have been applied to the sub-state geographic and SEIFA data items such that only one sub-state geographic or SEIFA data item can be included in any one table.

The sub-state geographic and SEIFA data items available are:

  • Greater Capital City Statistical Areas
  • Remoteness Areas - ASGS
  • Section of State - ASGS
  • SEIFA - Index of Relative Socio-economic Advantage and Disadvantage - 2011 - SA1 - Deciles National
  • SEIFA - Index of Relative Socio-economic Disadvantage - 2011 - SA1 - Deciles National

If field exclusion rules exist for certain variables, users will see the following message: “Maximum number of fields in exclusion group exceeded.”

Interpretation of results

Crime victim surveys are best suited to measuring crimes against individuals or households with specific victims. Victims need to be aware of and recall what happened to them and how it happened, as well as be willing to relate what they know to interviewers.

Not all types of crime are suitable for measurement by household surveys. No reliable information can be obtained about crimes without specific victims, such as trafficking in narcotics. Crimes of which the victim may not be aware cannot be measured effectively - some crimes involving deception and attempted crimes of many types may fall into this category. It may also be difficult to obtain information about some crimes such as sexual offences and assault committed by other household members due to the sensitivity of the crime and an increased reluctance to disclose. Some of these crimes may not be fully reflected in the data collected. Household survey data excludes crimes against commercial establishments or government agencies.

This survey covered only selected types of personal and household crimes. Personal crimes covered in the survey were physical assault, threatened assault, robbery and sexual assault. Household crimes covered were break-in, attempted break-in, motor vehicle theft, theft from a motor vehicle, malicious property damage and other theft.

For this survey the definition of total victims is restricted to those crimes included in the survey and does not represent all crime in Australia. Information collected in this survey is essentially 'as reported' by respondents and hence may differ from that which might be obtained from other sources or via other methodologies. This factor should be considered when interpreting the estimates and when making comparisons with other data sources.

Zero value cells

Tables generated from sample surveys will sometimes contain cells with zero values because no respondents that satisfy the parameters of the cell were in the survey. This is despite there being people in the population with those characteristics. That is, the cell may have had a value above zero if all persons in scope of the survey had been enumerated. This is an example of sampling variability which occurs with all sample surveys. Relative Standard Errors cannot be generated for zero cells. Whilst the tables may include cells with zero values, the ABS does not publish such zero estimates in Crime Victimisation, Australia, 2012-13 (cat no. 4530.0) and recommends that TableBuilder clients do not use these data either.

Data collection instrument

Data was collected using Computer Assisted Interviewing (CAI), whereby responses were recorded directly onto an electronic questionnaire in a notebook computer, usually during a telephone interview. A copy of the household survey questions used to collect the Crime Victimisation is available (see the Crime Questionnaire in the Survey material section). Response categories in the data collection instrument represent input categories and are not always available as separate output categories on the TableBuilder file as categories are collapsed for output to improve data quality and maintain confidentiality. However, it is important that users consider precise question wording, question order and sequencing and the range of input categories to assist them to interpret the data. 

Multi-response data items

A number of the survey's data items allow respondents to provide more than one response. These are referred to as 'multi–response data items'. An example of such a data item is shown below. For this data item, respondents can report all types of contact which they have had with the police in the last 12 months.

Multiple-response data item

When a multiple response data item is tabulated, a person is counted against each response they have provided. As a result, each person in the appropriate population is counted at least once, and some persons are counted multiple times. Therefore, the total for a multiple response data item will be greater than or equal to the sum of its components. Multi–response data items can be identified by the initials 'MR' in the data item list, which can be accessed from the Data downloads section. In the example below, the sum of the components is 18,411,700 whereas the total population is 18,398,900.

Multiple-response data item

Not applicable categories

Most data items include a 'not applicable' category. The 'not applicable' category comprises those respondents who were not asked a particular question(s) and hence are not applicable to the population to which the data item refers. The classification value of the 'not applicable' category, where relevant, is shown in the data item list (see the Data Item List in the Data downloads section).

Data item list

A complete list of all data items included on the Crime Victimisation TableBuilder file is provided in an Excel spreadsheet that can be accessed from the Data downloads section. The population applicable to each data item is also shown. Multi–response data items can be identified by the initials 'MR'.

Users intending to purchase the TableBuilder product should ensure the data they require, and the level of detail required, are available and applicable for the intended use.

Conditions of use

User responsibilities

The Census and Statistics Act 1905 includes a legislative guarantee to respondents that their confidentiality will be protected. This is fundamental to the trust the Australian public has in the ABS, and that trust is in turn fundamental to the excellent quality of ABS information. Without that trust, survey respondents may be less forthcoming or truthful in answering ABS questionnaires. For more information, see 'Avoiding inadvertent disclosure' and 'Microdata' on the ABS web page 'How the ABS keeps your information confidential'.

TableBuilder

In accordance with the Census and Statistics Act 1905, data in TableBuilder are subjected to a confidentiality process before release. The release of microdata must satisfy the ABS legislative obligation to release information in a manner that is not likely to enable the identification of a particular person or organisation.

This confidentiality process is applied to avoid releasing information that may lead to the identification of individuals, families, households, dwellings or businesses.

Prior to being granted access to TableBuilder, users must agree to the following ABS Terms and Conditions of TableBuilder Access: 

  • understand that the ABS has taken great care to ensure that the information on the survey output record file is correct and as accurate as possible and understand that the ABS does not guarantee, or accept any legal liability whatsoever arising from, or connected to, the use of any material contained within, or derived from TableBuilder
  • understand that all data extracted from the survey output record file through TableBuilder will be confidentialised prior to being supplied and that as a result, no reliance should be placed on small cells as they are impacted by random adjustment and respondent and processing errors
  • users inform the ABS, through their Contact Officer, upon leaving their organisation so that their access is disabled
  • not provide their TableBuilder user ID and password access to any other person or organisation.

Conditions of sale

All ABS products and services are provided subject to the ABS Conditions of Sale. Any queries relating to these Conditions of Sale should be emailed to intermediary.management@abs.gov.au.

Price

Microdata access is priced according to ABS Pricing Policy and Commonwealth Cost Recovery Guidelines. For details refer to ABS Pricing Policy on the ABS website. For microdata prices refer to the Microdata prices web page.

How to apply for access

Clients wishing to access the microdata should read the How to Apply for Microdata web page. Clients should familiarise themselves with the User Manual: Responsible Use of ABS CURFs and other related microdata information which are available via the Microdata web pages, before applying for access.

Australian universities

The ABS/Universities Australia Agreement provides participating universities with access to a range of ABS products and services. This includes access to microdata. For further information, university clients should refer to the ABS/Universities Australia Agreement web page.

Further information

The Microdata Entry page on the ABS website contains links to information which will assist users to understand and enable access to microdata. For further information users should email microdata.access@abs.gov.au or telephone (02) 6252 7714.

Privacy

The ABS Privacy Policy outlines how the ABS handles any personal information that you provide to us.

Data downloads

Data item list

Survey material

To view the Multipurpose Household Survey, 2012-13 Crime Victimisation Questionnaire (sample only) click here

Previous releases

 TableBuilder data seriesMicrodataDownloadDataLab
Crime Victimisation, 2011-12TableBuilder  
Crime Victimisation, 2010-11TableBuilder  
Crime Victimisation, 2009-10  Detailed microdata
Multipurpose Household Survey, 2008-09  Detailed microdata
Multipurpose Household Survey, 2007-08  Detailed microdata

Definitions and quality

Show all

The publication Crime Victimisation, Australia, 2012–13 (cat. no. 4530.0) includes a list of the Abbreviations used in the microdata for the Crime Victimisation topic. The publication also includes a Glossary containing definitions of selected terms.

Quality declaration

Institutional environment

TableBuilder files are released in accordance with the conditions specified in the Statistics Determination section of the Census and Statistics Act 1905 (CSA). This ensures that confidentiality is maintained whilst enabling micro level data to be released. More information on the confidentiality practices associated with TableBuilder can be found at the Confidentiality page.

For information on the institutional environment of the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), including the legislative obligations of the ABS, financing and governance arrangements, and mechanisms for scrutiny of ABS operations, please see ABS Institutional Environment.

Relevance

Data on Crime Victimisation were collected as part of the 2012–13 Multipurpose Household Survey (MPHS). The MPHS is a supplement to the monthly Labour Force Survey (LFS) and is designed to collect annual statistics on a small number of self-contained topics. The scope of the LFS is restricted to people aged 15 years and over and excludes members of the permanent defence forces; certain diplomatic personnel of overseas governments usually excluded from census and estimated resident populations; overseas residents in Australia; and members of non-Australian defence forces (and their dependents). Refer to Labour Force, Australia (cat. no. 6202.0) for further information regarding the LFS. In addition, the 2012–13 MPHS excluded households in Indigenous Communities and people living in non-private dwellings such as hotels, university residences, students at boarding schools, patients in hospitals, inmates of prisons and residents of other institutions (e.g. retirement homes, homes for persons with disabilities). 

Microdata from the Crime Victimisation component of the MPHS are available in TableBuilder. Respondents aged 15 years and over (or 18 years and over for incidents of sexual assault) were asked questions about their experiences of crime victimisation. The type of information collected included their experience of selected personal crimes (physical assault, threatened assault, robbery and sexual assault) and selected household crimes (break-ins, attempted break-ins, motor vehicle theft, theft from a motor vehicle, malicious property damage and other theft). Information was collected from one person selected at random in each selected household.

Timeliness

The MPHS is an annual survey with enumeration undertaken over the financial year period from July to June. The Crime Victimisation topic has been collected each year using the MPHS since 2008–09 and is scheduled to be repeated till at least 2015-16. As the reference period was the 12 months prior to the survey interview during 2012–13, the data relate to crimes occurring at some time between July 2011 and June 2013. Data from the Crime Victimisation topic (in the form of html and data cubes) were released on 12 February 2014.

Accuracy

The microdata contains finer levels of detail of data items than what is otherwise published in other formats, for example, in Crime Victimisation, Australia, 2012–13 (cat. no. 4530.0). For more information on the level of detail provided, please see the associated data item lists.

Steps are taken to confidentialise the data made available on TableBuilder in such a way as to maximise the usefulness of the content while maintaining the confidentiality of respondents selected in the survey. As a result, it may not be possible to exactly reconcile all the statistics produced from the microdata with other published statistics. Further information about the steps taken to confidentialise the microdata is available through the following link:

TableBuilder confidentiality

Users of MPHS data should also note that all sample surveys are subject to error which can be broadly categorised as either sampling error or non-sampling error.

Sampling error occurs because a sample, rather than the entire population, is surveyed. One measure of the likely difference resulting from not including all dwellings in the survey is given by the standard error. There are about two chances in three that a sample estimate will differ by less than one standard error from the figure that would have been obtained if all dwellings had been included in the survey, and about nineteen chances in twenty that the difference will be less than two standard errors.

Non-sampling error arises from inaccuracies in collecting, recording and processing the data. Every effort is made to minimise reporting error by the careful design of questionnaires, intensive training and supervision of interviewers, and efficient data processing procedures. Non-sampling error also arises because information cannot be obtained from all persons selected in the survey.

Coherence

The ABS conducted National Crime and Safety Surveys in 1975, 1983, 1993, 1998, 2002 and 2005. In 2006–07, a review of these crime surveys found the need for more timely and regular crime victimisation headline indicators (on an annual basis), and the need for flexibility to cater for new and emerging areas of crime.

In 2008–09, a redesigned ABS Crime Victimisation Survey was conducted (using the MPHS) which sought information on people's experiences as victims of both personal and household crimes. Collection of this information was largely repeated in 2009–10, 2010–11, 2011–12 and 2012-13 allowing comparisons over time to be made.

In 2010–11, for the first time, victims of physical assault and face-to-face threatened assault aged 15 and over who were personally interviewed were asked whether they believed alcohol or any other substance contributed to their most recent incident of assault (see Data Collection section of the Explanatory Notes for more information).

Differences in survey methodology and enumeration periods, as well as changes to many of the questions being asked, means that data from the 2008–09 to 2012-13 Crime Victimisation Surveys are not comparable with earlier ABS crime surveys. These differences mean that a time series is only possible for the period 2008–09 and beyond.

Consistent with the findings of the review of ABS crime surveys, the national Crime Victimisation Survey is expected to be conducted annually from 2008–09 using the MPHS.

The terms used to describe the various types of offences in this publication may not necessarily correspond with legal or police definitions.

Interpretability

The information within this product should be referred to when using the microdata. It contains information including Survey methodology, File structure, Using the TableBuilder, Conditions of use and the Data item lists.

The Explanatory Notes section of the Crime Victimisation, Australia, 2012–13 (cat. no. 4530.0) includes information on survey objectives, survey methods and design, data quality and interpretation, output data items, information about the availability of results and comparability with previous surveys.

Accessibility

Microdata products are available to approved users. Users wishing to access the microdata should read the How to apply for Microdata web page, before applying for access. Users should also familiarise themselves with information available via the Microdata web pages.

A full list of available microdata can be viewed via the List of expected and available Microdata.

Crime Victimisation data for the survey years 2010-11, 2011-12 and 2012-13 are now available through TableBuilder.

Any questions regarding access to microdata can be forwarded to microdata.access@abs.gov.au or phone (02) 6252 7714.

Privacy

The ABS Privacy Policy outlines how the ABS handles any personal information that you provide to us.

Previous catalogue number

This release previously used catalogue number 4530.0.55.002.