4519.0 - Recorded Crime - Offenders, 2016-17  
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OFFENDERS, AUSTRALIA

INTRODUCTION

This chapter presents national statistics about offenders aged 10 years and over who were proceeded against by police during the period 1 July 2016 to 30 June 2017. The statistics provide information about the characteristics of the offender (e.g. age and sex) and the principal offence for which an offender was proceeded against. This chapter also provides an overview of state and territory statistics for each data item. Further information for each state and territory is available in the State and Territory Profiles.

Certain offences are excluded from the Recorded Crime – Offenders collection. For further information about the scope and counting methodology of the collection, refer to paragraphs 3–15 of the Explanatory Notes. In this collection, national statistical standards and counting rules have been applied to facilitate comparisons between states and territories. However, some legislative and processing differences remain. For differences in legislation, processes or policies between states and territories, refer to paragraphs 50–84 of the Explanatory Notes.


OVERVIEW

In 2016–17 there were a total of 413,894 offenders proceeded against by police in Australia. This represented a 1% (or 4,458 offenders) decrease from 2015–16 and equated to a national offender rate of 1,949 offenders per 100,000 persons. (Table 1)

Graph Image for OFFENDERS, 2008-09 to 2016-17

Source(s): Recorded Crime - Offenders



Between 2015–16 and 2016–17 the number of offenders decreased in:
  • Queensland (by 5% or 4,225 offenders)
  • Australian Capital Territory (by 4% or 102 offenders)
  • Victoria (by 2% or 1,910 offenders)
  • Northern Territory (by 2% or 202 offenders)
  • South Australia (by 1% or 389 offenders)

Over the same reference period, the number of offenders increased in:
  • Western Australia (by 4% or 1,778 offenders)
  • Tasmania (by 2% or 216 offenders)
  • New South Wales (by less than 1% or 380 offenders)

Western Australia recorded the largest increase in the offender rate between 2015–16 and 2016–17, up 108 offenders per 100,000 persons, to 1,874 offenders per 100,000 persons. Tasmania was the only other jurisdiction which recorded an increase in its offender rate from 2015–16 to 2016–17, up 39 offenders per 100,000 persons to 2,281 offenders per 100,000 persons.

The remaining six jurisdictions recorded a decrease in offender rates since 2015–16. Queensland reported the largest decrease between the reference periods, down 137 offenders per 100,000 persons. (Table 6)


PRINCIPAL OFFENCE

In 2016–17, the five most common principal offences nationally were:
  • Illicit drug offences (20% or 81,160 offenders)
  • Acts intended to cause injury (19% or 78,421 offenders)
  • Theft (19% or 78,093 offenders)
  • Public order offences (15%, or 61,198 offenders)
  • Offences against justice (6% or 26,065 offenders) (Table 1)

Illicit drug offences

The number of offenders with a principal offence of Illicit drug offences decreased for the first time since the beginning of the time series in 2008–09, from 83,204 offenders in 2015–16 to 81,160 offenders in 2016–17.

This decrease was largely due to offenders with a principal offence of Manufacture or cultivate illicit drugs (down 12% or 688 offenders), and Possess and/or use illicit drugs (down 1% or 616 offenders). In 2016–17, offenders with a principal offence of Possess and/or use illicit drugs accounted for the majority of offenders in this division (67%).

Excluding South Australia (as data may be overstated, see Explanatory Note 64), the highest offender rate for this division in 2016–17 was in the Northern Territory with 702 offenders per 100,000 persons, followed by Queensland (594 offenders per 100,000 persons). (Tables 1, 2 and 6)

Acts intended to cause injury

In 2016–17, the number of offenders with a principal offence of Acts intended to cause injury reached its highest levels since the beginning of the time series in 2008–09 to total 78,421 offenders. The majority of offenders in this division were proceeded against for Assault, representing 93% of offenders.

While Western Australia recorded the largest increase in the offender rate for Assault (up 47 offenders per 100,000 persons from 2015–16), the Northern Territory continued to have the highest offender rate for this division in 2016–17 (1,366 offenders per 100,000 persons). The second highest offender rate for Assault was in South Australia with 436 offenders per 100,000 persons. (Tables 1 and 6)

Graph Image for OFFENDER RATE(a), Assault by states and territories, 2015-16 to 2016-17

Footnote(s): (a) Rate per 100,000 persons aged 10 years and over for the state/territory of interest (see Explanatory Notes paragraphs 16–19).

Source(s): Recorded Crime - Offenders



Theft

The number of offenders with a principal offence of Theft increased by 4% between 2015–16 and 2016–17, from 75,068 to 78,093 offenders. This was the fourth consecutive annual increase since 2013–14 during which time the number of offenders with a principal offence of Theft has increased by 19% or 12,525 in 2016–17.

The principal offence for most offenders in this division was Theft (except motor vehicles), accounting for 88% (or 68,405 offenders) of all Theft offenders. This offence division includes, for example, pick pocketing, theft of intellectual property, shoplifting and fare evasion (see Australian and New Zealand Standard Offence Classification (cat. no. 1234.0) for further information). Note: Fare evasion largely accounted for the increases in this offence division in states and territories where these data were available (see Explanatory Notes 52, 56 and 66 as well as Table 6).

South Australia had the highest offender rate for Theft at 642 offenders per 100,000 persons, followed by 551 offenders per 100,000 persons in New South Wales. (Tables 1 and 6)


SEX

The number of female offenders increased by 2% nationally since 2015–16 to 97,913 offenders in 2016–17. This was the highest number of female offenders since the beginning of the time series in 2008–09. For the same period the number of male offenders decreased by 2% (or 6,074 offenders) to 314,997 offenders.

In 2016–17 the female offender rate was 910 offenders per 100,000 females. The male offender rate has been more than three times higher than the female offender rate since the beginning of the time series in 2008–09, with 3,005 male offenders per 100,000 males in 2016–17. (Table 2)

The most common principal offence for female offenders in 2016–17 was Theft (26,687 or 27% of female offenders), as it has been since the beginning of the time series in 2008–09. Nationally, however, males accounted for 66% of all Theft offenders with an offender rate consistently two times that of females for Theft (489 and 248 offenders per 100,000 males and females, respectively).

The most common principal offences for male offenders nationally in 2016–17 were Acts intended to cause injury (20% or 61,607 male offenders) and Illicit drug offences (20% or 61,593 male offenders). (Table 2)


AGE

In 2016–17, the median age for offenders nationally increased by 1% to 29 years. Across the states and territories the median age ranged from 26 years in the Australian Capital Territory to 32 years in the Northern Territory. (Tables 5 and 15)

Offenders aged between 20 and 24 years accounted for the largest proportion (17%) of offenders (71,564 offenders) nationally in 2016–17. This was the second highest offender rate at 4,198 offenders per 100,000 persons, behind offenders aged between 15 and 19 years with a rate of 4,597 offenders per 100,000 persons.

Since the beginning of the time series in 2008–09 the national offender rate for persons aged 29 years and younger has decreased, most notably for:
  • Offenders aged between 15 and 19 years, down by 1,433 offenders per 100,000 persons
  • Offenders aged between 20 and 24 years, down by 488 offenders per 100,000 persons

Over the same reference period, the offender rate for persons aged 30 years and over increased. The largest of these increases occurred for:
  • Offenders aged between 40 and 44 years, up by 553 offender per 100,000 persons
  • Offenders aged between 45 and 49 years, up by 560 offenders per 100,000 persons

Graph Image for OFFENDER RATE(a), Difference in offender rate by age group, 2008-09 to 2016-17

Footnote(s): (a) Rate per 100,000 persons aged 10 years and over for the age group of interest (see Explanatory Notes paragraphs 16–19).

Source(s): Recorded Crime - Offenders