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Rate of crime victimisation declines in Australia

Media Release

27 April 2005

"Since 2000 the proportion of people who report experiencing crime has declined in Australia", the Director of the Australian Institute of Criminology, Dr Toni Makkai said today.

"Seventeen per cent of Australians experienced at least one incident of crime in 2004 - a seven per cent drop from the 24 per cent recorded in the last survey in 2000", Dr Makkai said.

"These survey results are consistent with trends in police recorded property crime rates in Australia as well as crime victim surveys in Britain, Canada and the USA."

The Australian Institute of Criminology has released the results of the Australian component of the International Crime Victimisation Survey (ICVS), Crime victimisation in Australia: key results of the 2004 international crime victimisation survey.

Fear of crime has declined. Seventy-two per cent of both male and female respondents reported feeling safe walking alone after dark, compared with 64 per cent in 2000.

Over one third of respondents had experienced household crime, while less than one third had experienced personal crime in the five years preceding the 2004 survey.

Survey results suggest the single best predictor of personal victimisation is previous victimisation.

The likelihood of being a victim of personal crime, which includes assaults and threats, robbery and personal theft, was higher for people who were unmarried, had a relatively high income, had resided at their postcode for less than one year, were unemployed or had an active lifestyle outside the home in the evenings.

For household crime, which includes burglary, attempted burglary, motor vehicle theft, theft from motor vehicles, motorcycle theft and bicycle theft, the likelihood of being a victim increased when the household had a high income and had resided at their postcode for less than a year.

Levels of reporting to police varied according to crime types, the survey found, with 94 per cent of motor vehicle thefts reported, compared to 37 per cent of assaults and/or threats reported to police.

The survey found feeling unsafe was associated with being a woman, being younger, speaking a language other than English at home, Indigenous status, and being a victim of crime.

"Police can have an important role in preventing the recurrence of crimes by helping people identify and eliminate vulnerabilities that can lead to repeat victimisation. Communities can also play an important role by working with residents in local areas to reduce crime and fear of crime.

"Surveys such as the 2004 ICVS assist with the development of community safety initiatives, such as the Australian Government's $58 million National Community Crime Prevention Programme," Dr Makkai said.

The ICVS is an international project involving 60 countries, and is coordinated through the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.

The Australian Institute of Criminology managed the Australian component of the 2004 ICVS, which included telephone interviews with 7000 people.

Funding to participate in the 2004 ICVS was provided by the Australian Government Attorney-General's Department and the Department of Immigration and Multiculturalism and Indigenous Affairs.

International results from the survey should be available later this year.