Australian Institute of Criminology

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National picture of crime and justice released today

Media Release

22 March 2006

Australian Institute of Criminology Director, Dr Toni Makkai, today released 'Australian Crime: Facts and Figures 2005' which serves as a ready reference for Australian crime statistics. It is the eighth publication in the series which is published annually by the Australian Institute of Criminology (AIC).

'The report provides a national picture of crime and justice throughout Australia for the period 1996 to 2004', Dr Makkai said.

'Overall the figures show that there has been a reduction in the number of almost all the major crimes recorded at a national level in Australia. The crimes of homicide, robbery, burglary, motor vehicle theft and other theft have been in decline over the past three years', Dr Makkai reported.

This reduction is supported by results from the Australian component of the International Victimisation Survey carried out in 2004 which showed that crime victimisation in the preceding twelve months had dropped by seven percent when compared with survey results in 2000.

The homicide rate was 1.9 in 1996 and was at its highest in 1999 at 2.0 per 100,000 persons. In 2004 it dropped to 1.5 per 100,000 persons.

The rate for robbery peaked at 137 per 100,000 of the population in 2001, the highest recorded since 1996. Since 2001 rates have declined by 40percent to 82 per 100,000 of the population in 2004.

The rate of motor vehicle theft declined by 35percent between 1996 and 2004, from 671 to 437 per 100,000 population. In 2004 there were 87,916 recorded victims of motor vehicle theft.

Based on the Drug Use Monitoring in Australia program, between 1999 and 2004 the percentage of police detainees testing positive to any drug or to cannabis has remained steady. Heroin use decreased markedly between 2000 and 2001 and has remained at this lower level. Methylamphetamine use increased until 2001 and has since levelled off.

From 1999-2000 to 2003-2004 in those jurisdictions which publish data on the gender and aged of alleged offenders, there has been a decline in the total number of alleged offenders but the majority continue to be male and aged between 15 and 19 years of age.

Between 1984 and 2004, the overall imprisonment rate increased from 88 to 158 per 100,000 adult population. The overall incarceration rate for juveniles declined 60 percent from 65 to 26 per 100,000 between 1981 and 2004.

Since 1998-99 expenditure on criminal justice has increased by an average of 4 percent each year. Police services account for approximately 72 percent of the total criminal justice-related expenditure.

Criminal justice data reported in 'Facts and Figures' come from a variety of sources: administrative such as criminal justice agency records and incident records kept by police, and surveys such as the crime victimisation survey. Statistics from the AIC as well as data holdings at the Australian Bureau of Statistics and other government agencies are used in this report.