Australian Institute of Criminology

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Research group

Objective

The objective of the Research program is to conduct research on the extent, nature and prevention of crime in Australia, in order to provide timely, policy-relevant advice to the Commonwealth and other key clients.

Description

In the first half of the financial year Research was restructured from four programs into five groups to better reflect the actual work and expertise of the program. At the same time, all staff and most functions of Publishing and Conferences were incorporated into the Research program to be better placed to develop and market the output from research.

The current group structure with various projects within each group means some research staff are part of more than one group. Others support the research program as a whole. These groups, and group leaders are as follows:

  • Sophisticated and Property Crime Group: Peter Grabosky, Group Leader.
  • Public Policy Group: Adam Graycar, Group Leader.
  • Data Warehouse and Development Group: Satyanshu Mukherjee, Group Leader.
  • Violence Monitoring Group: Peter Grabosky, Group Leader.
  • Crime and Society Group: Jane Mugford, Group Leader.

Apart from core research the Research program is responsible for the provision of administrative and advisory services for the research funding activities of the Criminology Research Council. Where appropriate, the Council has agreed to coordinate its research priorities with those of the Institute.

To maximise the relevance of Institute research, collaborative and partnership arrangements with other individuals and agencies are encouraged. This involves joint projects of various kinds, and the location of visiting researchers at the Institute.

Strategic priorities

The strategic priorities of the Research group are to:

  • develop and present timely and useful products to stakeholders which further the process of policy development and review;
  • respond quickly to new demands and requirements from stake-holders;
  • develop capacity to supervise/lead collaborative work, and maintain a register of such work;
  • develop unique data sets, and add value to the data;
  • provide an expert perspective on crime prevention and criminal justice issues to parliamentary committees, public inquiries, and other fora; and
  • ensure that the research product is disseminated widely.

As in previous years, Institute Research staff continue to provide information and advice in response to a wide range of inquiries. They also provide information to parliamentary committees, Commonwealth, state and territory governments, statutory bodies, criminal justice agencies, the business community, universities and the media.

Contributions of significance during the year included the completion of a significant project on telecommunications and crime funded in part by Telstra, and research work undertaken for the National Campaign Against Violence and Crime.

A number of Research staff serve as members of steering committees, advisory boards and expert groups within Australia and overseas. These have included, for example, the Advisory Group on National Crime Statistics and the Advisory Group on National Criminal Courts Statistics for the Australian Bureau of Statistics; Standing Group of Commonwealth Representatives, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC) Meeting for 1996-97, Implementation of Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody Annual Report; Advisory Committee of Sydney University Institute of Criminology; Editorial Board Australian and New Zealand Journal of Criminology; Standards Australia Committee on Compliance Systems, Expert Working Group Advising the Australian Minister for Health on Indicators of Aggressive Behaviour; Inter-Departmental Committee on the National Domestic Violence Summit; and Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade OECD Project.

Sophisticated and Property Crime Group

The following broad topics fall within this group:

  • Fraud;
  • Telecommunications and Crime;
  • Car Theft;
  • Health Care Crime; and
  • Crime Prevention.

Fraud

Continuing research in this area has resulted in two papers in the Trends and Issues in Crime and Criminal Justice Series as well as several conference papers. Peter Grabosky presented a paper on a conceptual framework for the analysis of regulatory systems at the Law and Society Association in St Louis, USA, in May. There have been ongoing discussions with two state police services resulting in an invitation for Dr Russell Smith to address the Heads of Fraud Conference on 31 July 1997.

Telecommunications and Crime

A major project which extended over three financial years, partially funded by Telstra, will result in the findings being published by a commercial publisher. As well, three papers were published on various aspects of the report in the Trends and Issues series of papers as well as numerous conference presentations and journal articles.

Car Theft

Research in this area resulted in a paper in the Trends and Issues series. Following publication, Dr Grabosky and one of the Research Analysts met with members of the National Motor Vehicle Theft Task Force to discuss ongoing research.

Health Care Crime

An Occasional Seminar, a Trends and Issues paper, the organisation of the program for the conference Health Care Crime and Regulatory Control (to be held 3-4 July 1997) and a research consultancy for the Victorian Parliamentary Law Reform Committee were Dr Russell Smith's contributions on this topic.

Crime Prevention

An intern, as part of an Australian National University program, was with the Institute from mid-February until end April. Her research topic "Best Practice in Crime Prevention" with particular reference to crime on transport will form the basis of a forthcoming publication.

Public Policy Group

The following broad topics fall within this group:

  • Deaths in Custody;
  • Custodial Studies;
  • Alcohol and other Drugs Policy;
  • Public Policy and Criminal Justice; and
  • Policing.

At the invitation of the Chinese People's Public Security University, Dr Peter Grabosky travelled to Beijing to give a series of lectures and seminars during the period 14-20 December 1996.

In May, Dr Peter Grabosky, representing the Director, gave a presentation to police at senior executive level at the Australian Institute of Police Management in Manly. On a quarterly basis, the Institute is invited to talk to this group. Other members of research staff were involved in various meetings and seminars with Australian state and federal police services on a variety of matters: fraud, environmental analysis, future of crime control, transnational crime, and common policing.

Deaths in Custody

This work is on-going. The statistics are collected and analysed in both calendar and financial year format. During the year this resulted in three reports: an interim report on deaths in custody for the financial year 1995-96; a chapter for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC) Annual Report on the Implementation of the Recommendations of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody 1995-96; and a report for the calendar year 1996 published in the Research and Public Policy Series. This was released in the week leading up to the Ministerial Summit on Indigenous Deaths in Custody. As well, work was completed to the end of calendar year 1996 on an Annotated Bibliography Report on Deaths in Custody which will be made available on the Institute home page on the Internet. Research Analyst Vicki Dalton prepared two background papers for the Deaths in Custody Summit which will be held in early July 1997.

Each year the Institute supplies a chapter for the ATSIC Annual Report which is tabled in Parliament. The most recent publication to appear was tabled in February 1997. Work is progressing on the Institute's contribution to the next Annual Report which will be the fifth and final report. This report deals not only with the 1996-97 financial year, but also with changes that have been made over the past five years and objectives and strategies that have been developed for the future. There were 130 separate phone inquiries about deaths in custody in the period under review. In addition, there were written requests for information on this toic as well as inquiries being made to the library.

"Indigenous People in the Criminal Justice System" by Satyanshu Mukherjee and Carlos Carcach was published in Keeping Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People Out of Custody: An Evaluation of the Implementation of the Recommendations of the Royal Commission in Aboriginal Deaths in Custody edited by Chris Cunneen and David McDonald and published by ATSIC in January 1997.

Custodial Studies

The Third National Police Custody Survey (NPCS) was conducted in August 1995 as a cooperative undertaking of the Australian Institute of Criminology and each of Australia's police services. It is part of an ongoing program of research into patterns and trends in police custody, nationally, undertaken as recommended by the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody and agreed to by all Governments. The first survey was conducted by the Royal Commission in 1988 and the second by the Institute in 1992. The report, written by Carlos Carcach and David McDonald, was published June 1997.

A conference on Privatisation and Public Policy was held in Melbourne on 16 and 17 June 1997. The program was a collaborative effort between Research Analyst Karl Higgins and the Victorian Ministry for Justice.

Adam Graycar assisted the Council of Australian Governments working group in the preparation of its Report on Government Service Provision.

In December 1996, Adam Graycar participated in a Heads of Justice agencies strategic planning workshop convened by the Government of South Australia. The task at hand was to develop a public policy framework for the planning and delivery of justice.

Adam Graycar convened a meeting of education directors in state and territory corrections departments on 23 June 1997 at the Institute to discuss a National Strategy for VET (Vocational, Education, Training) in Corrections. This was in response to a Senate Committee recommendation. This group will continue to meet to develop a national strategy.

In April 1997, Russell Smith prepared a report to the Victorian Government Department of Justice on Deterrence, Correctional Outcomes and Mandatory Sentencing in April 1997.

Alcohol and other Drugs Policy

David McDonald's work in the area included advice to the Victorian Parliament and a submission to the Third Evaluation of the National Drugs Strategy.

Little work in this area has been undertaken in the period under review but a Research Analyst will be joining the Institute in the new financial year to concentrate on this area of interest. As well, a conference on Alcohol and Crime is being planned for the next financial year.

Data Warehouse & Development Group

The following broad topics fall within this group:

  • The Data Warehouse;
  • Violent Deaths;
  • Victims of Crime;
  • Juvenile Crime, Detention & Justice; and
  • Patterns and Trends in Crime.

The Data Warehouse

The Institute aims to position itself as the national leader in the field of value-added criminal justice information and data, a key component of the process of accomplishing its mission of providing accurate criminal justice information for policy advice, and in so doing to move from exploring and describing phenomena to explaining phenomena related to social behaviour and criminal justice.

A Statistical Profile of Crime in Australia by Satyanshu Mukherjee, Carlos Carcach and Karl Higgins was published for the Second National Outlook Symposium in March 1997. Such profiles are not possible without the "data warehouse"

"Statistical Needs for Policy", a paper by Carlos Carcach and Satyanshu Mukherjee, presented at an Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Commission workshop, held at the Australian National University (ANU) in September 1996, was published in the proceedings in January this year.

Violent Deaths

Firearms-Related Violence in Australia by Satyanshu Mukherjee was published in the Trends and Issues series in June.

Reporting Crime to the Police

An occasional seminar in January by Carlos Carcach was published as a Trends and Issues paper for the Second National Outlook Symposium in March 1997.

Juveniles

The conference Juvenile Crime and Juvenile Justice: Towards 2000 and Beyond was held in June 1997. The program development was the work of Satyanshu Mukherjee. Juvenile Crime and Juvenile Justice, a data set, was produced as Research and Public Policy series No. 11. Satyanshu Mukherjee and Carlos Carcach each presented a paper: "Juvenile Crime: Overview of Changing Patterns" and "Youth as Victims and Offenders of Homicide" respectively.

Adam Graycar was keynote speaker at a community Aboriginal juvenile justice conference in Cairns in May.

The previously published quarterly statistics "Persons in Juvenile Corrective Institutions" will be replaced by an annual survey in the second half of 1997.

Patterns and Trends in Crime

Work on the updated second edition of Crime and Justice in Australia was completed in the period under review and is to be published by Federation Press in late 1997. It will also be published on the second disk in the AIC series Australian Crime and Justice on CD-ROM.

Violence Monitoring Group

The following broad topics fall within this group:

  • Homicide Monitoring;
  • National Firearms Monitoring;
  • Paedophilia; and
  • Violent Crime.

Homicide Monitoring

The Homicide Monitoring program has been operating within the Institute since 1989. Establishment of the Program was recommended by the National Committee on Violence and operates with the cooperation of all Australian Police Services. Up until 1989 it was not possible to give an accurate picture of homicide patterns in Australia.

The purpose of the Program is to identify as precisely as possible the characteristics of individuals which place them at risk of homicide victimisation and of offending, and the circumstances which contribute to the likelihood of a homicide occurring. This, in turn, provides a basis for the rational development of public policy on the prevention and control of violence. The basic data source for the Homicide Monitoring Program is police records, supplemented by information from individual investigating officers.

Research Analyst, Marianne James, gave a paper summarising the program and the data at the Institute's Second National Outlook Symposium in March 1997. Peter Grabosky provided an overview of homicide in Australia to the Homicide Research Working Group in the United States in June. An overview of seven years' data will be published in 1997.

National Firearms Monitoring

At its 17 July 1996 meeting, the Australasian Police Ministers' Council (APMC) resolved that the Australian Institute of Criminology "will monitor the effects of the new firearms controls". The Institute will report annually to the APMC.

In order to fulfil this role the Institute plans to monitor:

  1. deaths and injuries (homicidal, suicidal and accidental; single and multiple) caused by firearms;
  2. firearm related offences;
  3. the number and types of firearms in Australia; and
  4. the number and demographics of people licensed to possess and use firearms.

Much of the study will involve a pre-intervention/post-intervention comparison. It will be some years before sufficient post-implementation data become available, enabling us to draw conclusions on the impacts of the new initiatives. This means that the reports on the first two or three years of implementation will be mostly descriptive. It also emphasises the importance of developing data sets containing pre-1996 data particularly covering firearm and non-firearm caused homicides, suicides and accidental death, firearm-related offences, registered weapons and the number and demographics of licensed shooters in Australia.

To obtain complete and accurate information for the monitoring program the Institute will be working cooperatively with the police authorities from each jurisdiction and other leading providers of information and statistics, including the Australian Bureau of Statistics(ABS); the National Injury Surveillance Unit (NISU); the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW); the National Exchange of Police Information (NEPI); Australian Coroners; Australian Customs Service; the Victorian Institute of Forensic Science, which is developing the National Coronial Information System; the National Firearms Licensing and Registration Project (NFLR); and the Joint Application Development (JAD) Workshop.

The new National Firearms Monitoring program will contribute towards an increased knowledge of firearms and their use in Australia, and will complement the Institute's National Homicide Monitoring program, which has been monitoring homicide patterns and trends in Australia for the past seven years. Together these programs will provide a sound basis for policy decisions.

The first output from this project is a review of gun laws for each state and territory, undertaken by Professor Kate Warner, an Institute Associate. This first report was provided to the Office of Law Enforcement Coordination in April 1997.

Paedophilia

A conference, Paedophilia: Policy & Prevention, was held on 14 and 15 April 1997. The program was devised by Marianne James. A selection of the papers from the conference will be published in the Research and Public Policy series in the second half of 1997.

Violent Crime

In late 1996 an expert working group and two Institute researchers (David McDonald and Melanie Brown) wrote the report Indicators of Aggressive Behaviour for the Minister for Health. This research will be of value in developing policies for the prevention and control of violence across Australia and was published in the Research and Public Policy series in April 1997.

Peter Grabosky and Adam Graycar have established links with the National Consortium for Violence Research, an American organisation comprising the leading researchers in the field.

Published in the period under review were two Trends and Issues papers on violent crime, and one title in the Research and Public Policy series: Violent Deaths and Firearms in Australia: Data and Trends by Satyanshu Mukherjee and Carlos Carcach. As well, Peter Grabosky presented a paper entitled "The Trail of Violence" at the Second National Outlook Symposium.

Crime and Society Group

The following broad topics fall within this group:

  • Violence Against Women;
  • Violence Prevention; and
  • Recidivism and Open Learning Education.

Violence Against Women

Representing the first 12 months' work of the Violence Against Women Indicators Project, Violence against Women in Australia: Key Research and Data Issues by Judy Putt and Karl Higgins was published at the Second National Outlook Symposium in March 1997. This report presents the findings in relation to key research and data issues. It further identifies gaps in research which could have been undertaken if funding had continued.

Jane Mugford presented two papers at the Second National Outlook Symposium in March 1997, "Family Violence: Research for Policy", and the other providing a commentary from a Commonwealth perspective on the policy implications of the Women's Safety Survey.

Violence Prevention

The Australian Violence Prevention Award is now in its sixth year. Institute Director, Adam Graycar chairs the national committee: 59 award-winning projects were published as Violence Prevention in Practice in the Research and Public Policy series.

A full list of all 1995 and 1996 award winners can be viewed on the AIC's home page (http://www.aic.gov.au).

Applications for the 1997 award closed in late May. There are 90 entries which will be judged in September with the winners being announced by the Attorney-General on 23 October 1997 at Parliament House.

Recidivism and Open Learning Education

Funding has been made available by Department of Employment, Education, Training and Youth Affairs to the Institute to investigate the benefits of open learning style education for Indigenous offenders, and to assess the impact on repeat offending. The project responds to recommendations of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody, regarding education and training needs of Indigenous offenders. This is a two-year project which is scheduled for completion in 1999.

Conferences

  • First Australasian Women Police Conference held 29-31 July 1996, in Sydney. Almost 300 people attended this four-day conference which included speakers from England, the USA, Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea and attendees from many Asia-Pacific countries.
  • Burglary and Car Crime: Is Your Property Safe? held 2 December 1996, in Melbourne. This one-day program, jointly organised by the Department of Criminology, University of Melbourne, attracted 50 participants.
  • The Second National Outlook Symposium: Violent Crime, Property Crime and Public Policy held 3-4 March 1997, in Canberra. This symposium is a regular event in the Institute's calendar being held every 18 months. This Second National Outlook Symposium was attended by over 300 delegates.
  • Paedophilia: Policy & Prevention held 14-15 April 1997, in Sydney. This was the first of the outsourced conferences, with an attendance of 223.
  • Privatisation and Public Policy: A Correctional Case Study held 16-17 June 1997, in Melbourne with 146 in attendance.
  • Juvenile Crime and Juvenile Justice: Toward 2000 and Beyond held 26-27 June 1997, in Adelaide with 150 participants.

Publishing

Published research from the Institute is available in two series: Trends and Issues in Crime and Criminal Justice Series, and Research and Public Policy Series. Book-length works are published by commercial publishers, the first being Homophobic Violence, published by Federation Press under the Hawkins Press imprint.

As well, Bibliotech, which is part of the Australian National University, has been appointed as sales agent for all Institute backlist titles and all new titles in the Research and Public Policy Series. Subscriptions for Trends and Issues in Crime and Criminal Justice Series are still handled at the Institute. These changes have meant that the three full-time staff previously involved in publishing spend only part of their time on publishing and, with their move into Research, more resources are now available to this program.

Media

Each research publication was accompanied by a media release, as were Institute conferences. The Second National Outlook Symposium: Violent Crime, Property Crime and Public Policy was a significant media event in the Institute's year. The Public Affairs Officer coordinated media links and continued to maintain the high level of profile enjoyed by the Institute in the Australian media.