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4720.0 - National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey: Users' Guide, 2008  
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 26/02/2010   
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SAFETY, CRIME AND JUSTICE


OVERVIEW

This chapter provides information on the following topics collected in the 2008 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey (NATSISS):



FEELINGS OF SAFETY

This topic encompasses two main themes:

Personal safety

People were asked about their feelings of safety at home alone and within their local area. A local area is the space close to a person's home, such as their neighbourhood, suburb or community. In the 2008 NATSISS, people aged 15 years and over were asked how safe or unsafe they felt during the following three situations:
  • at home alone during the day;
  • at home alone after dark (ie at night); and
  • walking alone in their local area after dark (ie at night).

Being alone meant that the person did not have anyone else with them. However, if a person was at home with a young child, they may have felt as if they were alone and were therefore treated as such. A person who was walking with their dog was considered to be walking alone, unless accompanied by another person. For these three situations, a response was provided based on the following levels of safety:
  • very safe;
  • safe;
  • neither safe nor unsafe;
  • unsafe;
  • very unsafe; or
  • never alone.

If a person had times when they felt safe and times when they felt unsafe, they were prompted to respond based on how they felt most of the time during the situation described. If after probing for a more specific response, a person was still unable to specify the level of safety they felt, a response of neither safe nor unsafe was recorded. If a person only felt safe after they had taken safety measures (eg a dog, an alarm or locks), a response of 'safe' or 'very safe' was accepted based on these measures being undertaken.

Comparison to the 2002 NATSISS

Information on personal safety was not collected in 2002.


Neighbourhood/community safety

People were asked for their perception of crime and other problems in their neighbourhood. In the 2008 NATSISS, people aged 15 years and over were asked whether they thought any of the following problems occur in their neighbourhood or community:
  • theft, including burglaries, theft from homes, motor vehicle theft, other theft;
  • problems involving youths, such as youth gangs or lack of activity;
  • prowlers or loiterers;
  • vandalism, graffiti or damage to property;
  • dangerous or noisy driving;
  • alcohol;
  • (illegal) drugs;
  • family violence;
  • assault;
  • sexual assault or rape;
  • problems with neighbours;
  • levels of neighbourhood conflict;
  • level of personal safety day or night;
  • all of these problems;
  • no problems; or
  • don't know.

The wording of the response categories differed slightly between non-remote and remote areas, but were treated the same. More than one response could be provided.

Sexual assault or rape includes all assaults or attempted assaults of a sexual nature. Incidents of indecent exposure or sexual harassment were excluded from this category.

Theft includes instances where anything was taken from locked or closed garden sheds or garages. Anything stolen from a garden, motor vehicles, garages or sheds was also included. Theft also includes break-ins, which refer to any unauthorised entry into a closed (but not necessarily locked) premises, with or without theft. People may have reported actual and/or attempted break-ins.

Problems with neighbours could have included excessive noise, parking issues, overhanging or invading plants, or barking/dangerous dogs.

People aged 15 years and over who provided a response to the previous question were asked to rate their level of satisfaction with their local council or government's response to dealing with the problems identified using the following scale:
  • very satisfied;
  • satisfied;
  • neither satisfied nor dissatisfied;
  • dissatisfied; or
  • very dissatisfied.

People who answered no problems or don't know for the types of problems in the neighbourhood or community were not asked this question.

The number of selected neighbourhood or community problems was also output numerically as a value ranging from 0 to 13. A not applicable or not known response may have been recorded.

Comparison to the 2002 NATSISS

In 2002, the response categories for neighbourhood or community problems differed by non-remote and remote areas. In remote areas there was also an option to provide a response relating to 'other problems', which were not further defined. Information on the level of satisfaction was not collected. The 2002 survey also calculated the number of types of neighbourhood or community problems and output these numerically, with values from 1 to 9 (or more) and a not applicable category.

More detailed information on the 2002 survey is provided in the output data item list, available from the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey: Data Reference Package, 2002 (cat. no. 4714.0.55.002).


CRIME AND JUSTICE

This module of the survey includes three main themes:

Use of legal services

People may have used legal services for many reasons, other than for criminal matters. Types of use could have included land claims, writing a will or for compensation. Due to the sensitive nature of this topic, the reason/s a person sought legal advice or assistance was not collected.

In the 2008 NATSISS, people aged 15 years and over were asked whether they had used legal services in the 12 months prior to interview. If a person had used legal services, they were then asked which services were used, from the following list:
  • Aboriginal Legal Service (ALS);
  • Legal Aid;
  • private legal service; or
  • other.

More than one response could be provided and people could also respond that they did not know what type of service they used. Types of other services that may have been used include legal services provided by land councils and the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission.

The number of legal services a person used in the 12 months prior to interview was also calculated, based on whether a person had used legal services and the type/s of services used. Up to four legal services may have been used. If a person had used services, but did not know the type of service, then the number of legal services would also be not known.

Comparison to the 2002 NATSISS

The 2002 survey provides information on the type and number of legal services used in the 12 months prior to interview. People who did not use legal services in the 12 months prior to interview were asked whether they needed to use legal services during that time-frame. This question was not asked in 2008.


Contact with police

People were asked about their contact with police, including whether they had been arrested or charged. Due to the sensitive nature of this topic, the reason/s a person had contact with the police was not collected. A person may have also chosen not to answer any (or particular) questions.

In the 2008 NATSISS, people aged 15 years and over were asked whether they had ever been charged by the police. This included traffic offences when they were also a criminal offence (eg someone was injured, culpable driving, etc). This excludes traffic offences related to an infringement notice only (eg parking fines).

If a person had been charged by the police, they were asked their age the first time they were charged. An age of between 8-97 years could have been provided. If a person could not remember their age the first time they were charged, a 'don't know' response was recorded.

People aged 15 years and over were also asked if they had been arrested by the police in the five years prior to interview. If a person had been arrested, they were asked to provide the number of times this had occurred. A number of times from 1 to 97 could have been provided. If a person was unsure of the number of times, a 'don't know' response was recorded.

Comparison to the 2002 NATSISS

The 2002 survey provides information on whether people were ever formally charged, their age the first time this occurred, whether they had been arrested by police in the five years prior to interview and how many times this had occurred.


Incarceration

People were asked about time they had spent in gaol, where the time related to being on remand awaiting a court hearing or was part of a gaol sentence. Due to the sensitive nature of this topic, a person may have chosen not to answer any (or particular) questions.

In the 2008 NATSISS, people aged 15 years and over were asked whether they had ever been sent to gaol by a judge in a court. Time spent in gaol includes:
  • any instance where a person was in gaol, regardless of the length of time;
  • where a person was placed in gaol without being arrested (ie they were placed in gaol for their own safety); and
  • where a person was in gaol awaiting a court hearing.

Time spent in the custody of a 'night patrol', in a police lockup or visiting other people in gaol was excluded.

If a person had ever spent time in gaol, they were asked to provide:
  • the longest amount of time spent in one go;
  • the total time spent in gaol, including on remand or awaiting a court hearing; and
  • whether they had spent any time in gaol in the five years prior to interview.

If a person was unsure of the longest time they had spent in gaol, a 'don't know' response was recorded. A person's total time may have been the same as their longest time. The information on the length of time was collected in days, weeks, months or years and then converted into days to provide one consistent form of measurement.

People who declined to provide information on the longest time they had spent in gaol were not asked the subsequent question about the total time spent in gaol, but were still asked about any time spent in gaol in the five years prior to interview.

Comparison to the 2002 NATSISS

The 2002 survey contained one data item related to incarceration - whether a person had been incarcerated in the five years prior to interview. No further information was collected.


VICTIMS OF ASSAULT

People were asked to provide information on experiences of any incident where force or violence was used against them, or where they were threatened with physical force or violence. Due to the sensitive nature of the questions, responses were not compulsory and a person may have chosen not to answer any (or particular) questions.


Physical violence

Physical violence is any incident that involves physical assault, where physical assault is the use of physical force with the intent to harm or frighten. In the 2008 NATSISS, people aged 15 years and over were asked whether anyone, including people they knew, had used physical force or violence against them in the 12 months prior to the survey. In remote areas, people were asked if anyone had started a fight with them or tried to beat them up.

Types of incidents could have included any time when a person was pushed, shoved, hit or attacked with a weapon. Where the physical force or violence was a legitimate part of participation in a sport (eg boxing, martial arts), this was excluded. Attempted or threatened violence were collected separately (see below). If a person had experienced more than one incident in the 12 months prior to interview, they were asked to focus on the most recent incident.

If a person was subject to physical force or violence, they were then asked whether they reported the (most recent) incident to the police. They were also asked whether they knew their offender/s. If a person knew their offender/s, they were asked to nominate their type of relationship/s, from the following list:
  • current partner (de facto, husband, wife);
  • previous partner (de facto, husband, wife);
  • boyfriend, girlfriend or date;
  • ex-boyfriend or ex-girlfriend;
  • parent;
  • child;
  • sibling;
  • other family member;
  • friend;
  • work colleague/fellow school student;
  • neighbour;
  • known by sight only; or
  • other known person.

If a person was subject to physical force or violence in the 12 months prior to interview, they were asked whether the (most recent ) incident resulted in any physical injuries. If a person was physically injured, harmed or hurt in the (most recent) incident, they were asked to provide the types of injuries received, from the following list:
  • scratches;
  • bruises;
  • cuts;
  • fractures or broken bones;
  • broken teeth;
  • penetrative injury/stab/gun shot; or
  • any other type of injury.

If the person who received the physical injuries was female, the list of responses also included miscarriage. People who were physically injured were also asked if they visited a health clinic, saw a doctor or any other health professional for their injuries.


Threatened physical violence

Threatened physical violence is any attempt to use or threat to use physical force or violence against a person. In the 2008 NATSISS, people aged 15 years and over were asked whether anyone, including people they knew, had tried to use or threatened to use physical force or violence against them in the 12 months prior to the survey. In remote areas, people were asked if anyone had tried to or said they were going to hit them, fight with them or had threatened them.

Types of incidents could have included any time when a person was threatened in person, by letter, telephone or email. Incidents that did not involve a physical threat, such as name calling or swearing, were not included and where the threat was a legitimate part of participation in a sport this was also excluded. If a person had experienced more than one incident in the 12 months prior to interview, they were asked to focus on the most recent incident.

In non-remote areas, any person who was subject to an attempt or threat of physical force or violence in the 12 months prior to interview was asked whether the incident happened in person. In both remote and non-remote areas, people who experienced an attempt or threat of physical force or violence were asked whether they reported the (most recent) incident to the police.


Comparison to the 2002 NATSISS

The 2002 survey contained one data item related to physical or threatened violence in the 12 months prior to interview. A response may have been provided to either the question about physical violence or about threatened physical violence. In non-remote areas, people who experienced the latter situation were asked if any of the threats were made in person and if so, they were considered to have been a victim of threatened physical violence. People in remote areas were not asked if the threats were made in person.


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