Australian Bureau of Statistics
4510.0 - Recorded Crime - Victims, Australia, 2011
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 07/06/2012
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BREAK IN SERIES
3 The 2010 publication marked a break in series in the Recorded Crime – Victims collection. This was due to changes in police recording practices, implementation of a revised offence classification and completion of the National Crime Recording Standard (NCRS) implementation. The 2011 publication marks the first year where time series data are available following the break in series in the 2010 publication. Consequently, comparisons should not be made between data published prior to the Recorded Crime – Victims 2010 publication.
4 Statistics in this publication are derived from information on victimisation incidents collected by the ABS from administrative records held by police agencies within each state and territory.
5 The scope of this collection includes victims of offences classified to selected divisions and/or subdivisions of ANZSOC. Selected offences include:
6 As part of the ABS's ongoing commitment to ensuring data comparability and quality it has been determined that assault data will only be available for those jurisdictions complying with the NCRS. Recorded Crime – Victims data for assault for New South Wales, South Australia, Northern Territory, Australian Capital Territory and Western Australia are comparable. National data for assault are not available for Recorded Crime – Victims due to comparability issues; however, it is recommended that the ABS National Crime Victimisation Survey be used to make national cross-jurisdiction comparisons. For further information see Chapter 3 and paragraphs 36-47.
7 With the exception of motor vehicle theft, statistics in this publication relate to both completed and attempted offences, i.e. those where the intent is not fulfilled. Attempted motor vehicle thefts are excluded from the scope of the collection due to difficulties in distinguishing these offences from criminal damage.
8 Attempts to commit an offence are classified to the same ANZSOC subdivision/group as completed offences. The exception to this is murder, where murder and attempted murder are distinguished as separate offence categories.
9 The scope excludes the following:
10 A victim can be a person, a premises, an organisation or a motor vehicle depending on the type of offence.
11 Where the outcome of investigation determines that there was 'no crime' committed, these counts are excluded from the data. This can occur when offences are recorded then at a later point in time these offences were deemed to be unfounded, i.e. false or baseless. For further information see paragraphs 51-52.
12 The geographic definition of Australia, as used by the ABS, includes other territories. However, these territories are generally out of scope for ABS collections. Victims of crime on the Cocos (Keeling) Islands and Christmas Island are included in the counts for Western Australia, where applicable. Victims of crime in Jervis Bay Territory, or any other area under Australian Federal Police jurisdiction are not included in any counts in this publication.
13 National crime statistics are produced annually on a calendar year basis. The reference period for this publication relates to offences that have been reported to police between 1 January and 31 December 2011.
14 The offence categories used for the national crime victims statistics in this publication are based on the Australian and New Zealand Standard Offence Classification (ANZSOC), (third edition) (cat. no. 1234.0). The third edition of ANZSOC has been developed for use within Australia and New Zealand for the production and analysis of crime and justice statistics. It replaces the second edition and incorporates a title change from ASOC to ANZSOC only. The classification content and structure – which was updated in the second edition of ANZSOC following a minor review of the first edition of ANZSOC released in 1997 – remains unchanged.
15 The objective of the ANZSOC is to provide a uniform national statistical framework for classifying criminal behaviour in the production and analysis of crime and justice statistics.
16 For further information on the mapping of national offence categories to the ANZSOC see Appendix 1.
17 Victimisation rates are expressed as victims per 100,000 of the ABS Estimated Resident Population (ERP). These rates generally accord with international and state and territory practice, and are calculated using the midpoint of the reference period (i.e. 30 June).
18 Due to the break in series, victimisation rates are only presented for 2010 and 2011 data in this publication. Rates published prior to this period should not be compared with 2010 and 2011 victimisation rates. For further information refer to paragraph 3.
19 For population estimates and information on the methodology used to produce ERP, see Australian Demographic Statistics (cat. no. 3101.0). For Recorded Crime – Victims data, all estimates and projections for the Australian Capital Territory exclude Jervis Bay Territory. All estimates and projections for Australia exclude the external territories of Christmas Island and the Cocos (Keeling) Islands.
20 The risk of victimisation varies depending on the age and sex of the victim. This publication includes details of the age and sex of the victim, and age and sex specific victimisation rates. Rates are calculated using estimates of the age and sex breakdown of the population.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander victimisation rates
21 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander victimisation rates are expressed per 100,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population. Rates for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population presented in this publication are based on the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population data in Experimental Estimates and Projections, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, 1991 to 2021 (cat. no. 3238.0). These estimates and projections are based on data from the 2006 Census of Population and Housing, and rely upon assumptions about future fertility, paternity, life expectancy at birth and migration.
22 The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander projections used for 2011 are based on Series B (refer to Experimental Estimates and Projections, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, 1991 to 2021 (cat. no. 3238.0)). Series B is one of two main projection series (Series A and B) that have been published for the years 2007 to 2021. Both of these series assume an annual decline of 0.5% in fertility rates; an annual increase of 1% in paternity rates; constant interstate migration at levels observed in the 2006 Census; and zero net overseas migration with no arrivals and no departures. Two different assumptions were made about future Indigenous life expectancy at birth for Australia:
23 If Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander victim counts remained constant, an expected result of the change to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population estimates would be a decrease in the victimisation rate due to the assumptions used by Series B resulting in higher population estimates and projections than those previously used.
24 Rates for the non-Indigenous population are calculated using the ERP for the state or territory minus the projected Indigenous population.
25 Care should be exercised in interpreting rates based on small numbers of victims.
26 The following provides an explanation about how victims are treated and counted in this collection.
27 Data are compiled on the basis of the date an offence is reported to police and recorded within a reference period. This corresponds to either the date the offence was reported to police by a member of the public or when it was detected by police, and was recorded on police systems. The report date may not necessarily be the date when the offence occurred. This is particularly the case for homicide and related offences and sexual assault offences, where in some instances the time difference between when the offence(s) occurred and the report/detection date may be substantial.
28 A victim can be a person, premises, organisation or motor vehicle depending on the type of offence. A victim of a criminal incident is classified to one of the offence categories in scope of this collection (see paragraphs 5-12 for offences in scope).
29 It should be noted that the Recorded Crime – Victims collection does not enumerate unique persons or organisations. If a person is a victim of one offence, they will be counted once in this publication. If a person is a victim of multiple offences that fall within the same ANZSOC division, the victim is counted once, and the lowest ANZSOC code recorded within that division is recorded as the offence. If a person is a victim of the same offence multiple times on the same day, the victim is counted once. If a person is a victim of multiple offences that fall in different ANZSOC divisions, the victim is counted once in each of the different divisions, meaning one victim can be presented multiple times under different offence divisions. The following diagram illustrates the counting rules for the Recorded Crime – Victims collection.
30 The above diagram shows how one unique person who has been a victim of five offences is counted three times, due to the types of offences committed.
31 Other examples of how different victim scenarios are counted are explained below:
32 For the offence of Unlawful Entry With Intent (UEWI) the following applies:
Age of victims
33 For the Recorded Crime – Victims collection, the age information collected about a victim relates to the age of the victim at the time they become known to police rather than the age that the person became a victim. For example, if a victim was sexually assaulted at age 14 years but did not report the offence until they were 18 years of age, their age as presented in the data in this publication would be 18 years. Therefore, it is not possible to derive an accurate count of victims at the age when they were victimised.
ABORIGINAL AND TORRES STRAIT ISLANDER VICTIMS
34 This publication presents data for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander victims for a selected range of personal offences for New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia and the Northern Territory. Based on an ABS assessment of data quality, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander data for recorded victims of crime for other jurisdictions are not of sufficient quality for national reporting in 2011. For information about Indigenous rates refer to paragraphs 21-25.
35 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander status is based on self-identification by the individual who comes into contact with police. The quality of the data is dependent on police asking individuals to self-identify and responses being recorded on police systems. Where individuals are not able to provide an answer for themselves, jurisdictions may accept a response where a next of kin/guardian provides the information.
36 National statistics require a level of uniformity when compiling data from different states and territories. A number of standards, classifications and counting rules have been developed since the inception of this collection to improve national comparability. However, over time significant differences and changes in the business rules, procedures, systems, policies and recording practices of police agencies across Australia have resulted in some discrepancies in data between states and territories for some offence types.
37 Findings from the Differences in Recorded Crime Statistics (DiRCS) project released in 2005 indicated that data for assault were not comparable across all states and territories. Testing of this offence type highlighted that there were inconsistent recording practices across the states and territories. Some jurisdictions almost always record a reported criminal incident on their crime recording system, whereas other jurisdictions apply a threshold test prior to a record being made (e.g. whether the victim wishes to proceed against the offender or the seriousness of the incident). These thresholds varied across jurisdictions and were not guided by national standards.
38 The project also concluded that once a crime had been recorded in a crime recording system there was no evidence to suggest that processes within any state or territory had a significant impact on differences in recorded crime statistics.
39 In considering other aspects of recorded crime statistics, the DiRCS project and subsequent data quality investigations concluded that information for offence types other than assault were satisfactory for the level of comparison presented in this publication. Where there are known specific issues for individual states and territories, these are described in paragraphs 57-78.
40 A paper outlining the conduct and outcomes of the DiRCS project is available on the National Statistical Service website <www.nss.gov.au>. The paper was prepared by the ABS National Crime Statistics Unit (NCSU) on behalf of the NCSU Board of Management.
41 As a consequence of the lack of data comparability for assault and as part of the ABS ongoing commitment to ensuring national data comparability it has been determined that assault data will only be published for those jurisdictions complying with the NCRS. Assault data will only be available for the following jurisdictions: New South Wales, South Australia, Northern Territory, Australian Capital Territory and Western Australian. Assault data are not available for Victoria, Queensland and Tasmania. Published assault data is suitable for cross-jurisdiction comparisons.
42 For more detailed information about data comparability in relation to the Recorded Crime - Victims collection, refer to the publication Measuring Victims of Crime: A Guide to Using Administrative and Survey Data, June 2011 (cat. no. 4500.0.55.001).
National Crime Recording Standard
43 A National Crime Recording Standard (NCRS) was developed to address the lack of a uniform standard in the initial police recording processes. This standard complements the already established classifications and counting rules for the Recorded Crime – Victims collection and improves the level of comparability of these statistics across jurisdictions.
44 The NCRS, comprising a uniform set of business rules and requirements, has been developed in collaboration with police agencies across Australia to guide the recording and counting of criminal incidents for statistical purposes and enable consistency in recording. A comprehensive set of scenarios has also been developed which underpin the rules and requirements of the NCRS. These scenarios provide police agencies with guidance about how to deal with an incident from the point at which it comes to police attention, to the point at which it is recorded into crime statistics. The main objective of the NCRS is to provide clear guidance to police agencies on the criteria to be considered when making a judgement as to what should be recorded on police recording systems to meet national crime statistical requirements.
45 The application of the rules and requirements of the NCRS enable the recording of crime for statistical purposes in a comparable manner, while still allowing for the recording and retaining of information on police systems for the primary reasons of operational investigation and law enforcement. Given the nature of policing, many factors ultimately influence the level of recorded crime. Social, cultural and economic factors may influence the level of criminal offending or the level of reporting to police. Recorded crime statistics are the by-product of an administrative system and will be affected by changes within that system. The introduction of new technologies or changes in police business practices and resources are also likely to influence levels of recorded crime which may not necessarily reflect changes in the actual number of criminal incidents. Changes to legislation may also have an impact on the level of recorded crime and on the types of offences recorded.
Differences in rule interpretation
46 While the application of rules and requirements of the NCRS was designed to enable the recording of crime in a comparable manner across all 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. In relation to reporting of incidents of assault there are differences in interpretation and implementation of the rule across states and territories. New South Wales, South Australia, Northern Territory, Australian Capital Territory and Western Australia have interpreted and implemented the rule as required taking at 'face value' a report and recording an incident on their crime recording system. An investigation will then follow to determine whether a crime has been committed at law.
47 The interpretation and implementation of the recording rule for assault incidents varies from the standard for Victoria and Queensland. The variation is particularly around whether an element of investigation occurs before deciding to record an incident on their crime recording system. The degree to which this approach is taken and the potential impact on data across the states varies and is discussed below in State and Territory specific issues. Tasmanian assault data are currently not directly comparable with the jurisdictions whose data have been included.
Relationship of offender to victim
48 The relationship of offender to victim is defined as the relationship of the alleged offender to the victim as perceived by the victim at the time of the offence, not when further investigation has occurred or an offender is apprehended at a later date.
49 Data are not available for Western Australia as it is not captured on the same basis as other states and territories (i.e. at the time the offence is recorded). New South Wales is unable to provide data for robbery offences. Several jurisdictions are unable to provide data for other theft and blackmail/extortion as the victim can be either a person or an organisation. As a result, these offences have been excluded from tables. Victoria records the relationship of the victim to offender rather than the offender to the victim, and data is subsequently recoded to meet the Recorded Crime – Victims relationship classification.
50 There is some inconsistency in coding of current and former boyfriends and girlfriends across the jurisdictions, which should be taken into account when making comparisons:
Outcomes of Investigations
51 An element of the NCRS included the creation of a 'no crime' category. For 2011, where police have determined after investigation that 'no crime' has occurred at 30, 90 or 180 days, these counts are excluded from the data.
52 The Northern Territory is unable to code their outcome of investigation data to meet the requirements of the national outcome code 'no crime'. As a result, Northern Territory data may include victim counts for those situations where police have determined after investigation that 'no crime' has occurred.
COMPARISONS TO OTHER ABS DATA
Crime Victimisation, Australia
53 Another key source of data about people's experience of crime is the annual ABS Crime Victimisation Survey, which is a complementary source to the Recorded Crime - Victims collection. This survey collects information directly from individuals and households about their experiences of crime, the extent to which incidents of crime were subsequently reported to police and perceptions of neighbourhood problems and feelings of safety for a broad selected set of offences (see Crime Victimisation, Australia (cat. no. 4530.0)). The Crime Victimisation Survey replaced the previous Crime and Safety Survey (cat. no. 4509.0) that was last conducted in 2005. Due to differences in recording across states and territories, it is recommended that the survey data be used as the source to compare assault data across jurisdictions, rather than data presented in this publication.
Personal Safety Survey, Australia
54 A further source of crime victimisation data that measures people's experience of violence, harassment and stalking is the ABS Personal Safety Survey, last run in 2005. This survey was conducted by personal interview and provides detailed information collected from individuals about: their experiences of threats/attempts or actual physical assault or sexual assault; the type of perpetrator; experience of harassment and stalking; reporting of incidents to police; feelings of safety; and includes a range of characteristics about some of these incidents of violence (see Personal Safety Survey, Australia, 2005 (cat. no. 4906.0)).
Other explanatory information
55 As different methods are used, caution should be exercised in making any direct comparisons between different data sources. The information paper Measuring Victims of Crime: A Guide to Using Administrative and Survey Data (cat. no. 4522.0.55.001) was released by the ABS in June 2011. The main aim of this paper is to increase community understanding of the nature of different collection methodologies of crime victimisation data in Australia and why the findings from different data sources may differ. The paper outlines national crime victimisation statistics available from several different sources in the Australian context (including Recorded Crime - Victims) and draws comparisons between the statistics from these sources. The paper also describes methodological differences between survey sources and the possible impacts of the methodological differences between the survey vehicles.
COMPARISONS TO NON-ABS SOURCES
56 The statistics presented in this publication may be different from those published by police forces in individual states and territories. Different definitions of offences (see Glossary) and counting methodology (see paragraphs 26-32) will result in variations. National recorded crime victims statistics are compiled on a victim basis in that they count the number of victims for each individual ANZSOC division offence category, rather than the number of breaches of the criminal law.
STATE/TERRITORY EVENTS AND SPECIFIC ISSUES
57 The following information highlights events or processes unique to a state/territory that may have an impact on the data for this collection. This may include specific initiatives, recording practices, or changes to legislation or policy supplied by each state/territory.
New South Wales
58 Counts of kidnapping/abduction may be inflated slightly. 'Deprivation of liberty' (which is out of scope for this collection) is not separately identifiable on the NSW Police recording system; therefore counts of this offence type are also included in the kidnapping/abduction offence category.
59 All family and domestic violence related assaults are recorded even if the victim does not want to proceed.
60 An assault will still be recorded if there are no signs of injury and the victim does not wish to take the matter further. There is also a propensity in New South Wales to record assault as a part of public disturbances (e.g. a pub brawl).
61 In 2010, sexual assault data where the relationship of offender to victim was an ex-partner were understated as ex-partner was coded to 'Non family member n.f.d.'. For 2011, data for sexual assault where the victim identified the offender as an ex-partner have been coded to 'ex-partner'.
62 Victoria may record an offence (where the facts indicate that a crime has been committed) if the victim does not wish to proceed, depending on the severity of that offence.
63 Property taken in association with UEWI may not always be identified due to limitations in recording options in the Victoria Police LEAP computer system. Therefore, caution should be used when assessing the sub components of UEWI. The total counts for UEWI are correct, however further disaggregation results in an undercount for 'UEWI - involving the taking of property' and an over count of 'UEWI - other'.
64 For incidents of assault Victoria differs from the NCRS in the interpretation and implementation of the NCRS. 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 recording system until it is determined that a crime has been committed. The impact of this is that assault statistics produced are lower than those reported in the Crime Victimisation Survey. As a result of the comparability issues arising from this difference in interpretation and implementation of the NCRS a decision has been made not to make available assault data for Victoria.
65 Where an incident is reported to police, it is not taken on face value and recorded on the Queensland Police Records and Information Management Exchange. (QPRIME). The Criminal Code Act deals with all criminal assaults. Where a domestic violence incident occurs which involves an alleged assault and the victim does not consent to proceeding with an assault charge, the assault matter is not recorded on QPRIME. In a number of other jurisdictions where family and domestic violence incidents are recorded the incident would be included in the police recorded crime data even if the victim does not want to proceed with the assault. The impact of this is that assault statistics produced are lower than those reported in the Crime Victimisation Survey. As a result of the comparability issues arising from this difference in the interpretation and implementation of the NCRS a decision has been made not to make available assault data for Queensland.
66 South Australia does not record an assault for an unknown victim but may record an other offence such as theft (when evidence suggests an assault or an other offence has taken place) if they cannot locate a victim or their representative.
67 South Australia records all family and domestic violence related assaults even if the victim does not want to proceed.
68 South Australia Police record a single victim in instances where multiple vehicles belonging to that victim are stolen in a single incident. Victims of motor vehicle theft may therefore be understated. However, impact to victim counts is considered minimal.
69 The legal age of consent (that is, when it is legal for young people to consent to sex) for South Australia and Tasmania is 17 years of age. The legal age of consent in all other states and territories is 16 years.
70 It is a legal requirement in Western Australia for doctors, nurses, midwives, teachers and police officers to report all reasonable beliefs of child sexual abuse to the Department for Child Protection.
71 Western Australia does not record an assault or any other offence (when evidence suggests an assault has taken place) if they cannot locate a victim or their representative and when the evidence suggests that the assault is minor.
72 Western Australian sexual assault figures may be understated, due to changes in recording practices. Western Australian recording practices are currently under review.
73 The legal age of consent (that is, when it is legal for young people to consent to sex) for South Australia and Tasmania is 17 years of age. The legal age of consent in all other states and territories is 16 years.
74 For incidents of assault Tasmania’s data are not directly comparable with those jurisdictions whose data have been included.
75 Assault in the Northern Territory is clearly defined under sections 187-188 of the NT Criminal Code Act and therefore does not rely on common law definitions.
76 If after a report of an assault further investigation reveals insufficient evidence, but in the judgement of a police officer a crime did take place, a record of an assault will still be made on the Northern Territory Police administrative recording system (PROMIS) with an outcome code of 'insufficient evidence'.
77 The Northern Territory case management system does not include a 'no crime' outcome of investigation code. As a result, Northern Territory data may include victim counts for those situations where police have determined after investigation that 'no crime' has occurred. This differs to all other states and territories where 'no crime' data has been excluded from the victim counts.
Australian Capital Territory
78 Motor vehicles that are stolen in the Australian Capital Territory, but recovered in another state/territory are recorded on the Australian Capital Territory operational IT systems and included in the counts.
79 The data presented in this publication have been confidentialised to prevent identification of victims. Table cells containing small values have been randomly adjusted to avoid releasing confidential information. Due to this randomisation process, totals may vary slightly across tables. These adjustments do not impair the value of the tables as a whole.
80 Statistics produced on the basis of date reported may be affected over time by lags in completing and/or processing some crime reports. Where offences reported in the reference year are not processed for inclusion in the national statistics until the following year, revised data are included in subsequent publications and noted accordingly.
81 Additional state and territory data are available free of charge on the ABS website under the 'Details' tab for this product. A list of these data cubes can be found at Appendix 2. Unpublished data may be available on request on a fee-for-service basis. For further information, contact the National Centre for Crime and Justice Statistics (NCCJS) by email at <email@example.com>.
82 Other ABS publications which may be of interest include:
83 Current publications and other products released by the ABS are available from the ABS website <www.abs.gov.au>. The ABS also provides a Release Calendar on the website detailing products to be released in the next six months. The National Centre for Crime and Justice Statistics within the ABS releases Crime and Justice News (cat. no. 4500.0), an annual newsletter that is published on the ABS website. The National Centre for Crime and Justice Statistics can be contacted by email <firstname.lastname@example.org>.
84 Non-ABS sources which may be of interest include:
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