Australian Institute of Criminology

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Agency overview

The Australian Institute of Criminology (AIC) is Australia's leading national research and knowledge centre on crime and justice. The AIC conducts timely and proactive research on crime and justice and provides stakeholders with a unique knowledge base from which to inform policy and practice. Its research is funded primarily by the Australian Government but individual projects may be funded by state and territory governments or nongovernment agencies. In addition the Institute receives significant in-kind support from state and territory governments for its long term monitoring programs and research projects.

In 2007-08 the AIC had three business units: Research Services, Communication and Information Services and Corporate Services.

Structure of the Australian Institute of Criminology

Structure of the Australian Institute of Criminology

Research Services

The objective of Research Services is to conduct research on crime and justice issues that is timely and policy relevant to the Australian Government and other key stakeholders.

The strategic priorities of Research Services are to:

  • provide information on, and analysis of, the causes, control and prevention of crime, and on the criminal justice system
  • develop innovative products and services in the field of criminological research and information to better meet the needs of key clients and stakeholders, including the provision of consultancy services
  • anticipate the needs of major stakeholders by conducting proactive research into emerging areas of crime, including maintaining the ability to respond quickly to the needs of government.

There are five research teams within Research Services:

Crime Monitoring: the main objectives are to enhance and promote knowledge of some of Australia's central crime issues including homicide, firearms theft, and illicit drug use and crime.

Crime Reduction and Review: reflects the AIC's commitment to implement ways of promoting research, evaluation and knowledge exchange among crime reduction practitioners and policy makers in Australia.

Global, Economic and Electronic Crime: the focus is to provide information on and analysis of the causes, extent, prevention and control of transactional criminal activity, economic crime, high-tech crime and other complex and sophisticated criminal activity.

Justice and Crime Analysis: seeks to identify the nature and extent of particular crimes within the community, to identify the number and characteristics of people detained in custody and to identify trends in crime across time.

Modelling and Forecasting: provides statistical consultation for a variety of research areas throughout the AIC, as well as investigating and presenting the potential to build statistical models and forecasting of criminal justice activities, victimisation and offending patterns.

Research activities within the Institute fall into two main categories: national monitoring programs and crime and justice projects. In the 2007-08 budget the Government provided funding for three specific areas of research over the next four years: regional and domestic human trafficking trends; continuation of the Drug Use Monitoring in Australia (DUMA) sites in Victoria and the Northern Territory; and establishment and implementation of a money laundering research program. Following the election in November, additional funding was provided for research into domestic related homicides.

Other priorities during 2007-08 included research on violence and child abuse in Indigenous communities and a national survey of business to investigate computer related crime. The AIC continued to engage in collaborative and capacity building research, focusing on drug law enforcement and crime prevention. Other projects commenced in this reporting period included an assessment of the ACT policing data collection on family violence and becoming a consortium partner in the National Cannabis Prevention and Information Centre.

National monitoring programs are core research activities of the Institute, and involve the collection of specialised data not available elsewhere. Each releases an annual report analysing trends and characteristics revealed by the data. Such data are widely used to inform whole of government reporting on the crime and justice sector and to support policy initiatives across all levels of government. Developing and maintaining monitoring programs relies on extensive in kind assistance and support from all jurisdictions. See Box 1 for information about the nine monitoring programs for which the Institute was responsible in 2007-08.

Research Services core activities include producing reports and papers and disseminating key findings from the AIC's research activities. Outcomes from the range of monitoring programs and research projects are listed in the next chapter. The reports, conference papers and publications on trends and topical issues derived from the monitoring programs and project work inform and encourage public and policy debate. They are listed in Appendix 1.

Communication and Information Services

The former Information Services group was reorganised during the year to consolidate and improve the Institute's communication with a wide range of audiences and stakeholders, including criminal justice agencies; academics; federal, state, and local governments; law enforcement agencies; community organisations; and the media.

The objectives of the new Communication and Information Services group are to:

  • enhance the AIC's position with key stakeholders as Australia's leading national research and knowledge centre on crime and justice
  • ensure AIC's research is effectively communicated to inform the development of evidence-based policy and programs
  • provide a gateway for stakeholders and audiences to the wider world of crime and criminal justice information
  • ensure AIC researchers maintain their competitive edge through access to the most up to date and relevant information.

Box 1: National monitoring and research programs managed by the AIC

Reports from these programs are listed in Appendix 1.

National Homicide Monitoring Program: has collected and analysed information on all homicides (murder and manslaughter, excluding driving causing death) in Australia since 1990. It is recognised nationally and internationally as a pre-eminent homicide data collection program and relies on the ongoing support of all state and territory police services. The dataset holds information on 6,063 offenders and 5,883 victims.

Drug Use Monitoring in Australia (DUMA): established in 1999, DUMA is the only ongoing national survey of offenders, with almost 29,000 records and more than 22,700 urine specimens. Objectives include examination of the relationship between drugs and crime, and monitoring local drug markets and drug use patterns over time. The quarterly data collection enables policy makers and law enforcement agencies to respond to early warning indicators and emerging issues.

National Firearms Theft Monitoring Program: reports on the nature and characteristics of reported firearms thefts in Australia to provide information on the performance of firearms regulation and to monitor the use of stolen firearms in criminal activities. The 2005-06 annual report examined 1,445 stolen firearms, down 25 from the previous year.

National Deaths in Custody Program: has examined the circumstances of deaths in prison, police custody and juvenile detention in Australia since 1992, and reports on the number, patterns and trends of deaths in custody in Australia. The collection holds information on 1,879 cases, dating back to 1980.

National Armed Robbery Monitoring Program: the program's aim is to examine weapon use in armed robbery and to monitor trends and patterns over time in offences. This program began in 2001 following consultations with key stakeholders. Since 2003, state and territory police services have forwarded data on agreed variables to the AIC for analysis and reporting. The most recent annual report provided data on 3,030 offenders and 6,341 incidents of armed robbery.

National Juveniles in Detention Monitoring Program: provides a comprehensive annual overview of young people in detention in Australia, including gender, Indigenous status and age, and whether they are on remand or sentenced. The most recent report showed that there were 651 juveniles in detention at 30 June 2006.

Fraud against the Commonwealth Monitoring Program: in October 2006, the AIC became responsible for the annual report to the Minister, which includes an annual survey of fraud committed against Australian Government agencies, as required by the Commonwealth fraud control guidelines.

Anti Money Laundering and Counter Terrorism Financing (AML/CTF) Research Program: starting in July 2007, this four-year program will assess the current and emerging risks in money laundering and the financing of terrorism in Australia. The program examines compliance and enforcement activities undertaken by key agencies in Australia under the legislative regime, analyses trends affecting the local AML/CTF environment, and researches key or emerging issues.

Trafficking in Persons Research Program: this four-year program examining trafficking in persons in Australia and the Asia-Pacific region commenced in July 2007. It seeks to contribute to the effectiveness of Australian and international responses by building on the existing knowledge base, identifying gaps in knowledge and conducting relevant research.

The strategic priorities of the group are to:

  • publish and strategically disseminate high quality publications based on the Institute's and other research in a timely way, particularly in online formats
  • support research projects and monitoring programs through the provision of information discovery and delivery services
  • proactively provide stakeholders and audiences with information about the Institute and its research, and about the crime and criminal justice resources available online and through the JV Barry Library.

Core activities of the group include:

  • organisation of conferences and other events, such as roundtable discussions, workshops and seminars
  • publications, from peer review to publishing and distribution
  • communication support for publications and events, including media liaison
  • website management and e-communications services
  • JV Barry Library services
  • maintaining the CINCH database of Australian crime and criminal justice information
  • internal communications and Ministerial liaison.

The Institute's website (http://www.aic.gov.au) is the principal vehicle for the Institute to communicate the results of AIC conducted and CRC funded research. It is a content rich site that gives users access to a wealth of information about the work of the Institute and the CRC, and acts as a gateway to information on crime and criminal justice in Australia more broadly.

The JV Barry Library assists research staff in undertaking their research, by keeping them up to date in their field of expertise, finding and delivering relevant resources through the life of a project, and finding answers to their reference questions. The library also responds to stakeholder and public inquiries and maintains the CINCH bibliographic database.

Corporate Services

Vietnamese Ministerial Study Tour

One of the earliest visits to the refurbished building was from the Vietnamese Ministerial Study Tour to Australia, May 2008. Participants included (l-r) Professor Nick Crofts, Nossal Institute for Global Health; HE Truong Vinh Trong, Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister; Mick Keelty APM, Commissioner, Australian Federal Police; Hon Neal Blewitt AC, former Minister for Health.

The Corporate Services group provides financial, information technology, human resource, facilities, procurement and contracts, administration and secretariat services to support the Institute's research and dissemination outputs. It also provides administrative support to the CRC and the Australian Crime and Violence Prevention Awards (ACVPA). The team has also provided project support for the Fraud against the Commonwealth Monitoring Program.

Specialist external providers for ICT and payroll are utilised to ensure cost effective and timely corporate services information and advice to support all elements of the Institute. A wide range of corporate and support services are provided by Corporate Services, including:

Risk management: undertakes risk analysis for AIC business operations and maintains the risk register to ensure that the organisation meets the high standards required of government organisations for the safe management of information, data and physical assets. Risk management includes the updating and maintenance of the fraud plan and compliance with the Commonwealth fraud guidelines and privacy principles, and arranges insurance to cover the Institute's assets, staff and reputation.

Financial services: ensures that the AIC meets its financial and reporting obligations under the relevant legislation and other government requirements, and provides resourcing monitoring and advice to the AIC's business units.

Human resource management: liaises with the external human resources and payroll provider to ensure the smooth operation of staffing activities, manages performance development processes, and organises recruitment activities when needed. Occupational health and safety is also managed in this area.

Information and communications technology (ICT): provides a reliable and stable computing environment for AIC staff, and manages all aspects of telecommunications, including remote network, telephone and internet access.

Procurement: using whole of government services wherever possible, goods and services are acquired to meet the operational requirements of business units. Contracts with external suppliers and clients, and accounts are also managed in this area.

Building services: manages the efficient operation of the AIC's premises in alignment with sustainability and security objectives.

Priorities during 2007-08 included the refurbishment of the Institute's premises to provide a modernised, environmentally efficient and more secure workplace with increased seating capacity and an enhanced public area. A new ICT strategy provided the direction for an upgraded records management system as the basis for a transition to an organisation-wide knowledge management infrastructure.

Outcome and output structure

The AIC has one outcome:

To inform government of activities which aim to promote justice and reduce crime

And two outputs:

Output 1.1 - Policy advice and publications

Output 1.2 - Library, information and reference services to support policy advice and publications

Performance against these is reported in the next chapter.

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