Australian Institute of Criminology

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Agency overview

The Australian Institute of Criminology (AIC) is Australia's national research and knowledge centre on crime and justice. The AIC conducts timely, evidence-based 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 non-government agencies. The institute receives significant in-kind support from state and territory governments for its long term monitoring programs and research projects.

The Acting Director of the institute during the financial year was Mr Tony Marks. The AIC operates from one location in Canberra.

In 2008–09, the AIC had three business units: Research Services, Communications and Information Services and Corporate Services.

Structure of the Australian Institute of Criminology

Organisational structure

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 research into emerging areas of crime, including maintaining the ability to respond quickly to the needs of government.

There are five teams within Research Services:

Crime Monitoring—whose main objectives are to enhance and promote knowledge 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 implementing ways of promoting research, evaluation and knowledge exchange among crime reduction practitioners and policymakers in Australia.

Global, Economic and Electronic Crime—where the focus is to provide information on and analysis of the causes, extent, prevention and control of transnational criminal activity, economic crime, cybercrime 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 to 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.

National monitoring programs are core research activities of the institute, involving the collection of specialised data not available elsewhere. Each releases an annual report analysing trends and characteristics revealed by the data. These reports 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 2008–09.

Crime and justice projects are undertaken to research and highlight particular issues of national or Australian Government interest, or as individual consultancies. Topics vary over time and the institute's emphasis is on providing a policy-relevant evidence base. Significant projects in 2008–09 involved research on domestic-related homicide, violence and child abuse in Indigenous communities, alcohol and violence, and computer security in businesses. Outcomes from the monitoring programs and research projects are listed in the next chapter.

Core activities of Research Services include producing reports and papers and disseminating key findings from the AIC's research. 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.

Communications and Information Services

The objectives of Communications and Information Services are to:

  • ensure AIC research is effectively communicated to inform the development of evidence-based policy and programs
  • provide a gateway for stakeholders and audiences to crime and criminal justice information
  • assist AIC researchers to maintain their competitive edge through access to the most up-to-date and relevant information.

The strategic priorities of the group are to:

  • publish, in print and online, and disseminate high quality publications based on the institute's and other research in a timely way
  • support research projects and monitoring programs through the provision of information discovery and delivery services
  • provide stakeholders and other 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
  • publishing and distribution of material
  • communication support for publications and events, including media liaison
  • website management and e-communications services
  • JV Barry Library services
  • CINCH database of Australian crime and criminal justice information
  • internal communications and Ministerial liaison.

Corporate Services

The Corporate Services team provides a wide range of corporate and support services directly and through the use of external expert providers to the institute in support of its role as a national research and knowledge centre, as well as administrative support to the Criminology Research Council (CRC), the Australian Crime and Violence Prevention Awards (ACVPA) and Crime Stoppers Australia. The team also provides project support for the Fraud against the Commonwealth Monitoring Program.

Specialist external providers are utilised for payroll services and audit services and to provide specialist support for information and communications technology. This ensures cost-effective timely services and information are provided to the institute, as well as risk reduction.

Risk management and audit—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 national privacy principles, and insurance to cover the institute's assets, staff and reputation.

Human resource management—includes performance development, recruitment and general staff support, wellbeing and development, and the external payroll services provider. Occupational health and safety (OH&S) is also managed by the HR administrator.

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 and contracts—uses whole of government services, wherever possible, to acquire goods and services to meet the operational requirements of business units. Contracts with external suppliers and clients and accounts are also managed in this area.

Facilities and security—manages the efficient operation of the AIC's premises in alignment with sustainability objectives and security requirements.

Financial services—specialist external providers are utilised for payroll services, risk management and audit services and to provide specialist support for ICT. These services provide cost-effective, timely services and information to the institute.

Box 1: AIC's national monitoring and research programs

See the next section for an overview of performance of these programs and Appendix 1 for reports.

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 6,359 offenders and 6,149 victims.

Drug Use Monitoring in Australia (DUMA)—established in 1999, is the only ongoing national survey of offenders, with almost 29,000 records and more than 22,700 urine specimens at the end of 2007. 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 policymakers 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 2006–07 annual report examined 1,526 stolen firearms; an increase of 81 over 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 2007 report was based on a collection of 1,738 cases, dating back to 1980.

National Armed Robbery Monitoring Program—examines weapon use in armed robbery and monitors trends and patterns in offences over time. 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 3,992 offenders and 6,640 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—the AIC has completed its second annual survey of fraud committed against Australian Government agencies. Under the Commonwealth fraud control guidelines, May 2002, the AIC is to produce a report each year on fraud against the Commonwealth and control arrangements within Australian Government agencies. The report also reviews information on public sector fraud derived from surveys undertaken by non-government organisations.

Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing (AML/CTF) Research Program—assesses 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—is a four year program examining trafficking in persons in Australia and the Asia-Pacific region which began 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.

Outcome and output structure

In 2008–09, the AIC had 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 section.