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Australian crime: Facts and figures 2009

Media Release

18 March 2010

Today's release of Australian crime: Facts and figures 2009 by the Australian Institute of Criminology (AIC) shows government expenditure on criminal justice has now risen to $10 billion per year.

The 12th annual snapshot of crime and criminal justice in Australia from the AIC showed reductions in a range of crime types recorded by police, with property crime, assault, and sex assault reports all declining between 2007 and 2008.

While this was good news, AIC Director Dr Adam Tomison cautioned that the long-term trends for serious crime types such as robbery, assault and sex assault have been increasing since 1996.

"The report found there had been a 49 percent increase in assaults between 1996 and 2008, however the number of victims reporting assaults to police dropped from 176,427 to 170,277 between 2007 and 2008," Dr Tomison said.

"Since 1996, there has been an overall decline of eight percent in the annual number of arrests for drug offences, with a five percent decrease between 2007 and 2008.

"While arrests for cannabis and heroin continue to decline, arrests for amphetamines have more than quadrupled, increasing by 310 percent since 1996."

Government expenditure on criminal justice increased from $9 to $10 billion between 2007 and 2008, with the lion's share going to law enforcement. There were 48,024 sworn state and territory police officers employed across the nation in 2008, with a national average of 225 sworn police per 100,000 people.

Prison numbers continued to rise, by 1.4 percent in 2008, with 27,615 people in prison, while the rate of adult males and females serving community correction orders decreased by 18 percent and 19 percent respectively.

The majority of all offenders were male and the offending rate for persons aged 15 to 19 was almost four times the rate for all other offenders. Indigenous prisoners comprised 24 percent of the prison population, at a rate 17 times higher than that for non-Indigenous prisoners.

In 2008 the rate for male juveniles in detention reached 66 per 100,000, a 43 percent rise since 2004. The incarceration rate of males was 10 times that of females and for Indigenous juveniles was 26 times that of non-Indigenous youth.

For the first time, Facts and figures 2009 also contains data on financial instruments fraud provided by the Australian Payments Clearing Association.

Fraud on credit and charge cards had increased by 44 percent since 2006, yet according to victimisation surveys fraud remained one of the most under-reported offences, with fewer than 50 percent of incidents reported to police or other authorities.

The release of this year's report coincides with the launch of a new interactive online data tool, Facts and figures online, which enables people to analyse and compare crime statistics from the Australian crime: Facts and figures collection.

"The AIC's report has been a reliable and useful compendium of information on crime trends within Australia since it was first published in 1998 and we believe its availability as an online resource will help to enhance and inform policy across government, as well as the community and private sectors," Dr Tomison said.

To view the paper or utilise Facts and figures online visit www.aic.gov.au

AIC media contact: Caterina Giugovaz Telephone: 02 6260 9226; Mobile: 0418 221 798.