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Latest costs of crime data released by the Australian Institute of Criminology

Media Release

24 April 2008

The cost of crime to the Australian community in 2005 has been estimated at $35.5b, a slight increase over inflation since a similar estimation of almost $32b in 2001, according to a report released today by the Australian Institute of Criminology (AIC).

Counting the costs of crime: a 2005 update has been produced using a similar approach to the AIC's two 2003 companion reports examining the costs of crime. Taking the two indicators of inflation and GDP into account, the research suggests that the costs of crime increased only marginally between 2001 and 2005 and can be considered stable.

There was movement within these figures, however, said AIC Director Dr Toni Makkai.

"While many categories of crime showed a decrease between 2001 and 2005, there was a substantial increase in the costs of fraud, which is a fast-growing area of activity assisted by emerging crimes such as electronically assisted identity theft and other cyber-style crimes", Dr Makkai said.

"There was also a growth in spending on the criminal justice system over this period, which is mainly attributed to increased funding for the area as a whole following the 11 September 2001 terrorism incidents in the US".

Fraud and criminal justice costs have increased as a proportion of the overall costs of crime, and vehicle thefts and burglary have fallen. Shoplifting accounts for over 60 percent of crimes, but only nine percent of the costs; various forms of violent crime account for eight percent of incidents, but 33 percent of costs.

Dr Makkai warned that estimates of the costs of crime should be viewed as a guide only, as Australian data on the cost of crime are lacking. "There is plenty we could do to increase the availability of data in the Australian context, including more regular collection of crime data against business, better data on the costs associated with violent crime including the costs of injury, and further research into growth areas of crime such as fraud and related crime types", Dr Makkai said.

AIC media contact: Lani Gerrish, Tel: 02.6260 9273; m: 0403 746 009