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Newsletters - Crime and Justice Statistics - Issue Number 18, Apr 2005

In this issue:
National Information Development Plan for Crime and Justice Statistics
NCCJS Meetings
Upcoming Publications
Staff News
NCCJS Contact Points

National Information Development Plan for Crime and Justice Statistics

The National Information Development Plan for Crime and Justice (the Plan) is part of a collaborative approach by agencies with an interest in the field of crime and justice to improve the range, quality and availability of national crime and justice statistics.

A Steering Committee will be established to facilitate implementation of the Plan and to provide guidance and support to lead agencies. The Plan identifies twelve priority areas where the current supply of data has gaps, deficiencies and/or overlaps and where improvements will enhance the evidence base used to inform national policy questions and public debate.

A general theme throughout the Plan is the improvement of the comparability of data from different sources. The Plan proposes developments in administrative and survey data collections that will support comparisons of statistics between crime and justice sectors, across national and international jurisdictions and across time, and will enhance coherence with statistics collected in other fields. Examples of some of the activities intended to deliver more comparable data are the development of tools such as data dictionaries to support data collection; a common data quality framework to aid the explanation of differences between collections; and a review of survey methods and concepts to deliver better integrated national data on crime victimisation and safety.

A second theme evident in the Plan is a need for more detailed information about offenders, victims and criminal incidents. The populations of interest include juveniles, recidivists, and those with mental health or substance abuse issues. Other areas for development include family violence statistics, data regarding Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and cultural diversity, and a better understanding of spatial statistical needs.

Recognition is also made in the Plan of the need for statistical information about transnational crimes, as well as new technology-oriented crimes. Data are sought to measure the size of the problem and to collect offender and victim information, including jurisdiction of origin.

A draft of the Plan was circulated for comment during February 2005. Subject to the extent of feedback and confirmation by lead agencies, it is anticipated that the Plan will be published in May 2005.

6th & 7th JUNE 2005

The Australian Institute of Criminology and the Australian Bureau of Statistics will conduct a two day conference at ABS House, Canberra ACT in June 2005. The conference will provide attendees with an opportunity to discuss the following topics: linking research, evaluation and policy; statistical methodologies; research and evaluation methodologies; data quality and improving the evidence base; and improving access to and use of the evidence base.

The conference program will include papers by plenary speakers, other invited speakers and selected papers from interested persons in plenary and concurrent sessions.

Detailed conference information is available from the web site <>.


Copies of all publications can be ordered by contacting the ABS National Information and Referral Service on 1300 135 070.

Corrective Services, Australia (4512.0)

The September quarter 2004 issue of Corrective Services, Australia was released on 1 December 2004. This publication presents time series information on persons in custody and community-based corrections. Details are provided by state/territory on prisoner counts by type of custody, legal status, sentence type and Indigenous Status.

The average number of prisoners in full-time custody on the first day of the three months in the September quarter was 23,456. Of these, the average number of unsentenced prisoners was 4,908 (21%).
Graph; Persons in prison custody, Proprtion unsentenced per month

Prisoners in Australia (4517.0)

On 23 December 2004 the ABS released Prisoners in Australia 2004, with indicators on the characteristics of prisoners, sentence lengths and offences for which offenders are imprisoned. The publication provides a basis for measuring change in this population over time.

At 30 June 2004, there were 24,171 prisoners in Australia, an increase of 3% since 30 June 2003. The median aggregate sentence length was 3.2 years and the median expected time to serve was two years.

Almost 60% of male prisoners and 50% of female prisoners are known to have prior imprisonment.

The prisoner population in Australia has increased by more than 40% over the decade to June 2004, higher than the 15% growth in the Australian adult population in the same period.

The female prisoner population doubled to 1,672 over the decade, whilst the male prison population increased by 40% to 22,499 during the same time.

Overall, the adult imprisonment rate increased from 127 to 157 prisoners per 100,000 adult population over the decade to June 2004.

Other changes in the prison population for the 1994-2004 period include:
    • The proportion of unsentenced prisoners increased from 12% to 20%.
    • The proportion of sentenced prisoners serving an aggregate sentence length of 10 years or more increased from 10% to 13%.
Graph; Change in prisoner numbers between 30 June 1994 and 30 June 2004

Criminal Courts Australia (4513.0)

On 11 February 2005, the ABS released Criminal Courts, Australia 2003-04, providing a picture of the characteristics of defendants dealt with by the Higher (Supreme and Intermediate) and Magistrates' Criminal Courts, including information on offences and sentence types. Information on the characteristics of defendants finalised in the criminal jurisdiction of the Magistrates’ Courts is presented in the main suite of the publication for the first time. Previously, these data were experimental and included as an Appendix.

There were more than half a million (544,689) defendants finalised in the Higher Criminal Courts and Magistrates' Criminal Courts in 2003-04:
  • Most were finalised in the Magistrates' Courts (97%);
  • Nearly four in five (78%) were men, with half aged less than 35 years;
  • Defendants were more likely to be adjudicated in the Higher Courts for offences of Acts intended to cause injury (21% of those adjudicated) and Unlawful entry with intent (15% of those adjudicated);
  • Defendants were more likely to be adjudicated in the Magistrates' Courts for offences of Road traffic and motor vehicle regulatory offences (44% of those adjudicated) and Public order offences (9% of those adjudicated);
  • Most defendants (461,813 or 85%) were proven guilty (guilty plea or declared guilty);
  • For the women proven guilty in the Higher Courts and Magistrates' Courts in 2003-04, 93% received a non-custodial sentence, compared to 87% of men.
  • Defendants proven guilty were more likely to receive a custodial sentence in the Higher Courts compared with the Magistrates' Courts (78% and 9% of those proven guilty respectively).

Graph; Defendants proven guilty, Selected principal offence by principal sentence and court level


Children's Courts Collection Development

Development of a collection framework and strategy for the expansion of the ABS criminal courts collection to include the Children's Courts is underway. The collection strategy includes recommendations for the scope and coverage of a Children's criminal courts collection; a list of priority data needs; definitions and counting rules; and a proposal for a staged implementation process.

The aim is to begin to build an evidence base that will support policy development relating to juvenile offenders moving through the criminal courts. The development work hopes to:
  • provide nationally comparable, comprehensive statistics on the nature and extent of young people's involvement with the Children's criminal court system
  • provide a view across all of the criminal courts (Children's, Magistrates' and Higher courts)
  • work towards an integrated juvenile collection which will provide a view across other aspects of the criminal justice system.

The NCCSU will commence collecting test data early in 2005, with a view to providing some experimental statistics in the 2004-05 issue of Criminal Courts, Australia.

Any questions relating to the framework should be directed to <>.

2005 Surveys

The ABS will be running a Personal Safety Survey (PSS) in 2005, with results scheduled for release around July 2006. A National Crime and Safety Survey (NCSS) will also be run in 2005, with results scheduled for release around May 2006.

A Framework for Electronic Crime

The National Centre for Crime and Justice Statistics last year completed a collaborative project with the Australian High Tech Crime Centre (AHTCC) to assess e-crime information requirements in Australia. Initially, information is required to estimate the size of e-crime in terms of economic impact and frequency, and a description of the characteristics of incidents, offenders and victims.

A proposed definition of e-crime is '...a criminal offence where a computer or other (similar) electronic device is used as a tool to enable or enhance the commission of an offence, or is the target of the offence'. Under this definition a dichotomy between Enabled and Enhanced crimes is suggested. Enabled crimes are those crimes committed directly against computers, and that would not exist without the use of computers. Enhanced crimes are the more traditional crime types that are facilitated by the use of technology. Equipment theft is excluded from the definition as statistics are available from other sources and operational difficulties arise when determining the intention of a suspect.

A conceptual framework was designed to show the organisation of information that could facilitate the collection of e-crime statistics.
The framework is built around;
  1. influences that led to the need for a framework for e-crime statistics including legislation, overseas influence and the Electronic Crime Strategy
  2. recognition of the different potential sources for the data including Industry, Community, Police systems and other agencies
  3. delineation of statistics to be generated for e-crime based on the data requirements identified including size of problem, characteristics and costs. These statistics are not exhaustive or prescriptive; rather they provide an indication of the nature of information that may be available with the full implementation of the statistical framework.

Proposals to develop e-crime statistical information have been included in the National Information Development Plan for Crime and Justice.

Information Paper - 'Enhancing the Population Census: Developing a Longitudinal View'

The ABS will be releasing an information paper on 15 April about a proposal to enhance the value of 2006 Census of Population and Housing data by combining it over time with data from future censuses, and other ABS data.

The information paper will include specific information on key issues on which submissions are sought, as well as providing examples of potential cases where the enhanced data provides potential statistical value.

The ABS encourages the public and other interested parties to submit their views on the proposal. The information paper and submission form will be available on the ABS web site from 15 April. Those wishing to provide feedback can lodge a submission on-line through the web site or on a paper form.

Director's Overseas Conference and Discussions

In November 2004 I attended a joint United Nations Economic Commission for Europe and United Nations Office for Drugs and Crime (UNECE/UNODC) conference on measuring crime victimisation. The conference was attended by some 35 countries and the main theme was comparability and effectiveness of victimisation measures. Delegates prepared papers and gave sessions on practice and issues in their countries; the Australian paper discussed current experience, particularly with survey measures. The conference determined that a Technical Advisory Group would be formed to advance best practice and develop standards in this area, with ABS accepting a role as a member of this group. I was also able to meet with counterparts at the UK Home Office and Statistics Canada to share experiences with crime and justice statistics.

Chris Libreri
Director, National Centre for Crime & Justice Statistics

NCCJS Meetings

The following meetings have been held since October 2004:
    • Courts Advisory Group, 10 December 2004
    • Corrective Services Advisory Group, 9 November 2004 and 2 March 2005
    • Courts Board of Management, 24 November 2004 and 23 March 2005
    • Crime Advisory Group, 23 March 2005
    • Police Practitioner Group, 21 and 22 March 2005

Forthcoming meetings:
    • Courts Practitioner Group, 13 and 14 April 2005
    • Corrective Services Board of Management, 19 April 2005
    • Crime Board of Management, 20 April 2005
    • Courts Advisory Group, June 2005

Upcoming Publications

26 May 2005: Recorded Crime - Victims, Australia 2004 (cat. no. 4510.0).

May 2005: National Information Development Plan 2005 (cat. no. 4520.0).

23 June 2005: Corrective Services, Australia, March Quarter 2005 (cat. no. 4512.0).

September 2005: Corrective Services, Australia, June Quarter 2005 (cat. no. 4512.0).

Staff News

In February 2005, Samantha Ferguson began work in the Strategic and Survey Development Unit and Kimberley Fry began work in the Statistical Management Unit. During the last six months, Rhonda Forner and Karen Gelb returned from maternity leave, while Margaret Windsor and Nadine Wiggins left on maternity leave. Catherine Farrugia commenced study leave for 12 months.

Crime and Justice on the Web

For more information about Crime and Justice statistics, look for our theme page on the ABS web site. From the ABS home page click on ‘People’ under the “Themes” heading, then ‘Crime and Justice’, for a centralised source of crime and justice information.

NCCJS Contact Points

Fax: (03) 9615 7372

Email: <>

Postal Address:

National Centre for Crime and Justice Statistics
Australian Bureau of Statistics
GPO Box 2796Y
Melbourne VIC 3001

Commonwealth of Australia 2008

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