Australian Institute of Criminology

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Report on performance

Research performance

During 2013–14, the AIC continued to deliver a strong research program that supported the needs of criminal justice policymakers and practitioners in line with its mandate. Midway through the year, the Institute reviewed the key priority areas for research activity and in collaboration with the Criminology Research Advisory Council, confirmed a continued focus on six key themes for the next year. These broad areas include crime prevention, criminal justice responses, substance abuse and crime, transnational and organised crime, violent crime and vulnerable communities. As described in the following pages, all of the research undertaken during 2013–14 could be categorised into at least one of these themes.

Compared with the previous year, the AIC strengthened its research capacity as a result of increased research consultancy activity, which enabled the Institute to work with and support the research needs of an increasing number of agencies at both the Commonwealth and state/territory level. At the Commonwealth level, the AIC continued to seek to increase the support it provides to key Commonwealth agencies. For example, in August 2013, an MOU was signed with CrimTrac. This MOU established an agreement to work together on research topics and has already resulted in the commencement of three significant evaluation projects. A substantial amount of research activity was also undertaken in support of the AGD, including the completion of a study on the costs of crime in Australia, the publication of a report on the prevalence of identity crime and misuse, research on countering violent extremism, research on human trafficking and the continued monitoring of fraud against the Commonwealth. A detailed evaluation undertaken by the AIC into the effectiveness of a number of drug and alcohol treatment programs for Indigenous Australians was also published by the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet. Work also continued throughout the year on a collaborative project with the Australian Federal Police and the University of Canberra to examine the offending histories of child exploitation material perpetrators. In addition, research consultancy work was undertaken for the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the ACC.

At the state/territory level, the AIC conducted work with a range of agencies on a fee-for-service consultancy basis. This included support for the ACT Auditor General’s audit of offender programs in the Alexander Maconochie Centre, a review of risk assessment tools for community-based Indigenous offenders for the Northern Territory Department of Correctional Services and a Safe Streets Audit (in collaboration with TNI, Charles Darwin University) for the Northern Territory Police Force (NTPF). In Victoria, numerous projects were undertaken for the Department of Justice. These included an evaluation of the Victorian Community Correctional Service’s Service Delivery Model (with PricewaterhouseCoopers), an evaluation of the Victorian Community Crime Prevention Program, the development of an economic model to estimate the wider costs and savings associated with imprisonment and community corrections, and the development of a model evaluation framework for prison programs. Further, the AIC was involved in evaluating two violence prevention programs for the Victorian Department of Human Services and provided research support for a Victorian Parliamentary Inquiry into the supply and use of methamphetamines.

The AIC also continued to develop a strong international reputation for high-quality research and was an active member of the UN Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Program Network. During the year, AIC signed MOUs with the TIJ and the Thailand Department of Juvenile Observation and Protection, and collaborated with the Korean Institute of Criminology on a small-scale study on criminal policy associated with net neutrality. The AIC is also in the planning stages of a workshop on public participation in crime prevention and criminal justice that will be delivered at the 13th UN Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice in Qatar in 2015.

As a result of the changing demands on the AIC, the research function of the Institute underwent a restructure, resulting in an increase from three to four teams. These new teams are:

  • Crime Prevention and Evaluation Research (CPER)—focusing on developing crime prevention solutions to crime problems and undertaking robust program evaluations to identify effective practice.
  • Criminal Justice Monitoring and Analysis (CJMA)—focusing on criminal justice processes associated with policing, courts and corrections.
  • Transnational and Organised Crime (TOC)—focusing particularly on economic crime, identity crime and cybercrime, especially exploring their international and organised crime dimensions.
  • Violence and Exploitation (V&E)—focusing on all forms of violence and human trafficking.

The following section examines in more detail the work of each of these teams.

Crime prevention and evaluation research

The CPER team has focused on providing a range of evaluation consultancy services for clients at the Commonwealth, state/territory and local government levels. The CPER team consists of seven researchers and is led by Research Manager Anthony Morgan. Peter Homel continues in his role as Principal Criminologist, Crime Prevention.

Research directions

The CPER team focuses on two major areas of research—high-quality evaluations of strategies to prevent and reduce crime, and research that aims to contribute to the knowledge base on effective crime prevention policy and practice.

In 2013–14, the CPER team was involved in a significant number of evaluation projects to assess the effectiveness of state and territory-funded programs. This included the evaluation of Indigenous drug and alcohol treatment programs (completed in partnership with the V&E team), a meta-evaluation of primary prevention of violence against women projects, the evaluation of an adolescent family violence prevention program, the evaluation of a community crime prevention program in Victoria and the development of minimum requirements for the evaluation of prison programs.

In recognition of the growing interest within government to assess the cost-efficiency and cost-effectiveness of criminal justice programs, the CPER team has included various forms of economic analyses in a number of evaluation projects. Further, the CPER team has worked closely with Corrections Victoria to extend and refine a cost-benefit model for imprisonment and community corrections that the AIC had first developed in 2012–13 and with the Neighbourhood Justice Centre (NJC) in Victoria to develop a cost comparison model for comparing NJCs with other criminal justice pathways.

The CPER team has now commenced a large-scale collaborative program of research with CrimTrac—the national information-sharing service for Australia’s police, law enforcement and national security agencies. This program involves the development of a series of targeted evaluation and capacity-building projects, which has so far included the delivery of evaluation training to around 50 CrimTrac staff, the development of a whole of service logic model that will underpin CrimTrac’s future project development, performance measurement and evaluation activities, and the evaluation of the Australian Cybercrime Online Reporting Network. Areas of focus in 2014–15 will include the evaluation of national ballistic and DNA databases for law enforcement. The CPER team is also undertaking its own research into the impact of technology on policing, beginning with a paper on recent developments in DNA evidence.

Major crime prevention projects completed this financial year included the Northern Territory Safe Streets Audit, undertaken in partnership with Charles Darwin University and the final stage in the development of performance measurement and evaluation frameworks for the City of Sydney’s crime prevention and social housing strategies.

Work also continued on the development of a major international workshop on public participation in crime prevention being hosted by the AIC at the United Nations Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice in Qatar in early 2015. This included the development of a program for the workshop that was presented at the United Nations’ 23rd Session of the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice, held in Vienna in May 2014.

Key program outputs

During 2013–14, the CPER team completed a number of important projects.

Program evaluation and economic analysis

Evaluation of Indigenous drug and alcohol treatment programs

Working in partnership with members of the V&E team and the Social Policy Research Centre (University of New South Wales), the CPER team delivered final reports on the process and outcome evaluation of six Indigenous drug and alcohol treatment programs, undertaken on behalf of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet. The AIC also delivered an overall summary report that described the findings from across all six programs and outlined recommendations for future drug and alcohol treatment programs.

Taken together, the results from this evaluation represent some of the most comprehensive criminal justice data collected for community-based Indigenous drug and alcohol treatment programs in Australia.

Estimating the wider costs and savings associated with imprisonment and community corrections in Victoria

In mid-2013, the CPER team completed work on a short-term cost-benefit model to estimate the total net cost of imprisonment and community correction orders in Victoria, taking into account a range of direct and indirect costs, and savings associated with both sentence options. The AIC produced a working model, user guide and technical report. Importantly, the model and estimated costs for custodial and non-custodial sentences were used by Corrections Victoria for policy decision making.

The AIC was also commissioned to undertake a feasibility study to explore options for how the model might be further developed and enhanced. As a direct result of this work, the CPER team was subsequently commissioned to undertake two further stages—extending the model to account for periods post-sentence, remand and movement between orders, and developing a cost–benefit model specifically designed for women in prison.

Estimating the costs associated with community justice models

In response to ongoing questions regarding the cost of community justice models like the NJC in Victoria, which provides a range of local justice and social services to the City of Yarra in Melbourne, the AIC was commissioned to estimate the costs associated with the NJC and compare this with other alternative models of service delivery (eg the Magistrates Court of Victoria). This involved the development of a robust model that accurately reflected the cost of delivering both court and client services.

Crime prevention research

CCTV in Australia

The AIC’s survey of local councils across Australia on the use of open-street CCTV was completed in June 2014. There were more than 230 responses, with approximately two-thirds of councils reporting the use of CCTV in public spaces. Preliminary results from the survey were presented at the AIC’s 2014 Crime Prevention and Communities conference, with initial results indicating significant growth in the use of open-street CCTV by local councils, as well as increases in the size and sophistication of the systems used.

Crime Prevention ASSIST

Crime Prevention ASSIST is an AIC service that aims to enhance the skills and capacity of those engaged in local crime prevention by producing applied crime prevention resources, providing training and professional development in crime prevention, and undertaking research and evaluation of effective practice. During 2013–14, the AIC undertook two training events for crime prevention practitioners in Victoria. The first focused on project planning and program logic principles, while the second focused on evaluation. The Crime Prevention and Communities conference (described in more detail later in this report) was also a major undertaking for Crime Prevention ASSIST. In addition, members of the AIC participated in the Australia and New Zealand Crime Prevention Senior Officers Group.

Towards the end of the year, a decision was made to refocus Crime Prevention ASSIST resources on developing the evidence base for effective practice by undertaking primary research. The first of these projects related to examining the prevalence and use of CCTV in Australia, with a survey undertaken of all local government areas. In 2014–15, a number of evaluation case studies will be developed to support this approach, with the intention of generating evidence that is relevant to the Australian context.

Northern Territory Safe Streets Audit

The CPER team, working in partnership with TNI at Charles Darwin University, completed the Northern Territory Safe Streets Audit on behalf of the NTPF. The purpose of the audit was to examine crime and safety issues in Darwin, Katherine and Alice Springs, and to help inform effective strategies to reduce the actual and perceived risk of victimisation. The audit highlighted the importance of a more focused approach to crime reduction and targeting known hotspots with a high concentration of violence and public disorder, making a number of recommendations as to future actions that could be taken by NTPF and its partners to reduce crime in these hotspots.

Performance framework for local government crime prevention

The AIC has finalised its work with the City of Sydney to develop a performance measurement and evaluation framework for the new Safe City Strategy and Social Housing Wellbeing and Safety Action Plan. Two reports were submitted describing specific, achievable and measureable outcomes for both the Strategy and Action Plan, and a strategy for collecting information that will enable their impact to be monitored and evaluated.

Preventing Violence against Women in our Community project evaluation

The AIC made significant progress in 2013–14 on the evaluation of the Preventing Violence against Women in our Community (PVAWC) project, which is due for completion in January 2015. The PVAWC project aims to work with three Victorian local government clusters to test models of good practice, pilot new initiatives and develop resources. The AIC has developed a whole-of-community model for preventing violence against women, based on a review of the best available evidence, which is expected to become a model approach for local councils across Australia. A survey of local council staff about their knowledge of and involvement in the PVAWC project and attitudes towards preventing violence against women resulted in more than 1,600 responses across nine councils. The survey will be repeated in September 2014 to measure the impact of the PVAWC project.

Research influence

Through its evaluation and technical assistance functions, the CPER team performs an important role in directly influencing both policy and practice.

A clear example of this is the AIC’s partnership with CrimTrac. In 2013–14, the AIC signed an MOU with CrimTrac, through which CrimTrac has engaged the services of the AIC to evaluate existing data services to determine impact and value for money, provide assistance with the development of new business cases and deliver training to CrimTrac staff in the fundamentals of benefits measurement.

In 2014, three projects commenced under this partnership arrangement. This included evaluation training, the development of a whole of service logic model and the evaluation of the Australian Cybercrime Online Reporting Network. In the second half of 2014, two more projects will commence—the evaluation of the Australian Ballistics Information Network and the evaluation of the upgrades to the National Criminal Investigation DNA Database.

Stakeholder relationships

A key feature of the CPER team’s approach to evaluation and crime prevention research is the emphasis placed on working in partnership with policymakers and program managers. Many of the CPER’s evaluation projects involve a continuing relationship with agencies that have previously worked with the AIC. Notable stakeholder relationships include:

  • the partnership with the UNODC, members of the UN’s Network of Program Institutes and agencies within the Attorney General’s portfolio as part of the AIC-led workshop on public participation in crime prevention, which will be held at the UN Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice in Qatar in early 2015;
  • the MOU with CrimTrac in 2013–14, which provides the framework for a long-term collaborative research partnership including the evaluations of multiple law enforcement databases;
  • the MOU with TNI at Charles Darwin University, which has already resulted in one major research project (the NT Safe Streets Audit);
  • the partnership with the City of Sydney, which has involved developing a performance framework and providing regular input into the development of their new Safe City Strategy; and
  • the AIC’s relationship with Corrections Victoria (not limited to the CPER team), which has spanned multiple projects and extended over several years.

Criminal justice monitoring and analysis

The CJMA team undertakes research on criminal justice processes. Led by Research Manager, Matthew Willis, the team consists of seven research staff responsible for a combination of monitoring programs and research projects.

Research directions

Following the restructure of research teams, the CJMA team took responsibility for administering custody-related monitoring programs. These programs have been undergoing processes of review that will ensure their relevance to the AIC’s work and their practical application to criminal justice system policy and operations.

Since 2008–09, the AIC has been a consortium member of the National Cannabis Prevention and Information Centre (NCPIC) at the University of New South Wales, producing a series of publications and research analyses with criminal justice focus. During the year, the AIC finalised several research papers for dissemination through the Centre and policing journals on topics such as the impact of reduced cannabis supply on consumption of illicit drugs and alcohol, the influence of cannabis dependency and use on criminal offending, use of synthetic cannabis among police detainees and development of cannabis information for police use in training materials. At the end of 2013–14, the AIC completed its work with NCPIC.

The CJMA team is in the final stages of a two year evaluation of the Victorian Community Correctional Services Service Delivery Model. Undertaken in partnership with PricewaterhouseCoopers, the evaluation has drawn on a wide range of data and information sources to examine issues surrounding Corrections Victoria’s implementation of initiatives to support state government sentencing reforms. In conducting this evaluation, the AIC has undertaken consultation interviews with stakeholders including members of the judiciary, community-based offenders, service providers, Corrections Victoria senior executives and managerial and operational staff from Corrections Victoria and other government agencies in Melbourne and regional Victoria. The AIC has also undertaken extensive case file and data analysis to assemble a comprehensive understanding of the initiatives and their outcomes.

In May, the CJMA team also commenced an evaluation of the Gippsland Arson Prevention Program, in partnership with the Sustainability Institute at Monash University. This is a unique arson prevention project, which has formed a collaboration between government, business and not-for-profit organisations and encompasses a range of arson prevention approaches.

Through the CJMA team, the AIC has also maintained a key research focus on justice issues for Indigenous Australians. Research staff have been examining the validity of tools and processes used by the Northern Territory Department of Corrections in assessing the risk and service needs of Indigenous community-based offenders. This work also explores the feasibility of developing Indigenous-specific risk assessment tools for use in the Northern Territory and across other Australian jurisdictions. The AIC is also continuing work on evaluating the Cross Border Indigenous Family Violence Program, a joint initiative of the Northern Territory, South Australia and Western Australia governments.

Key program outputs

Drug Use Monitoring in Australia

The CJMA team has continued the AIC’s work on the core-funded DUMA program during 2013–14, while also taking the opportunity to review and refine the program’s scope and processes.

Following a mid-year budget review in January 2013, the AIC Executive took the decision to temporarily suspend data collection through the DUMA program to allow an opportunity to review the program’s relevance as a criminological and public health data collection system. Data collection recommenced later in 2013, using a rationalised number of collection sites. Data collection is continuing at police watchhouses in Adelaide, Brisbane and East Perth using externally contracted collectors and site managers. The AIC is directly undertaking collection and site management in New South Wales, alternating between Bankstown and Kings Cross/Surry Hills police stations.

DUMA logoHighlight 3: Drug Use Monitoring in Australia program

Since 1999, the AIC has managed the Commonwealth Government-funded DUMA program. The program commenced at four sites in Australia (Southport, Bankstown, Parramatta and East Perth), growing over time to be a truly national program operating at police stations across six jurisdictions (New South Wales, Northern Territory, Queensland, South Australia, Victoria and Western Australia). In 2013–14, following a review and rationalisation of the program, DUMA data collection was reduced to five key sites at the East Perth, Adelaide, Brisbane, Bankstown and Kings Cross police stations.

DUMA data is collected on four occasions each year, with all detainees who are present at a selected police station at the time of data collection being eligible to participate. Participation is voluntary, with detainees who are heavily intoxicated, aggressive or violent, or mentally unwell being deemed unfit to participate. Detainees who participate are asked to complete an interviewer-assisted questionnaire, which collects information about the detainee’s recent drug use, history of drug use and involvement in criminal offending. At two data collections per year, the first and third quarters, participants are asked to provide a urine sample, which serves as an objective measure of recent drug use. Since the DUMA program began, 50,595 detainees have participated in a DUMA survey and 36,482 urine samples have been collected. Separate quarterly addenda to the questionnaire are also used to collect additional information to inform research needs.

In 2013–14, 2,315 adult police detainees were interviewed and 1,185 urine samples were collected. Based on urinalysis results, the percentage of detainees who returned positive tests for amphetamines (36%) rose by nine percentage points from the rate recorded in 2012–13 (27%). This is the highest recorded rate of amphetamine use since 2004, when a rate of 34 percent was recorded. Cannabis continued to be the most commonly detected drug, with 46 percent of urine samples testing positive. A gradual decline in the return positive rate for cannabis has been observed since 1999, when 61 percent of urine samples tested positive. Return positive rates for heroin remain low, with only eight percent of samples testing positive. By self-report, 42 percent of detainees reported having drunk alcohol in the 48 hours prior to their arrest. The use of synthetic drugs in this population remains low with only six percent of detainees reporting use in the 30 days prior to interview and with many detainees voicing a distrust of synthetic substances.

In addition to the valuable information that DUMA data provides in terms of the monitoring of illicit drug usage trends over time, the data provides insight into the connection between substance use and criminal offending. For example, in 2013–14, 44 percent of detainees reported that alcohol or illicit drugs were a contributing factor in their current offending. Data also showed that methamphetamine users reported a higher proportion of their income from crime than did non-methamphetamine using detainees.

A restructure of the DUMA survey, which was undertaken in 2013, provided additional space in which items addressing salient state, territory or national drug, alcohol or offending issues could be examined. In 2013–14, this feature was used to examine substitution patterns during periods of reduced illicit drug supply, internet access and usage patterns, methamphetamine and aggression, and intentions to seek help from informal and formal sources for drug misuse. For information regarding use of the addendum space, please contact the AIC DUMA Program Manager.

National Deaths in Custody Program

The National Deaths in Custody Program has been operating since 1992, following recommendations of the Royal Commission Into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody and continues the AIC’s work in this important area of criminal justice monitoring.

Data on deaths in custody continue to be collected on an ongoing basis throughout the year and the National Deaths in Custody Program monitoring report is published on a biennial basis. A report covering all deaths occurring during 2011–12 and 2012–13 is currently in the final stages of preparation and is scheduled for release in late 2014.

National Police Custody Survey

The AIC is continuing work with police agencies to establish a police custody monitoring program as a redevelopment of the former five-yearly census-based survey. The redeveloped program will use electronic unit record data collected by police agencies on an ongoing basis to allow a more accurate and reliable picture of people being taken into police custody than was available previously. The collection of continuously compiled data will provide the basis for capturing seasonal variations in antisocial behaviour, as well as variations resulting from factors such as movements in the drug market.

Research influence

The research conducted by the CJMA has been influential in a number of important policy areas.

Drug use

The DUMA program continues to provide a unique source of data collected from people detained in police custody. As well as the information published through Monitoring Reports, DUMA data are regularly used by police agencies, government policymakers and researchers. Quarterly addenda administered together with the primary questionnaire provide the opportunity to examine data on a broad range of criminological topics of specific research interest. Addenda findings have been used by the AIC in 2013–14 to inform several research papers for NCPIC, as well as papers that are currently being drafted for publication by the AIC.

Cannabis

The AIC’s contribution as a consortium member of NCPIC provided a platform for the dissemination of timely, evidence-based information on cannabis use, the perceptions and behaviours of cannabis use and strategies for building the knowledge and awareness of frontline law enforcement officers. In 2013–14, the AIC drew on findings from the DUMA program and consultations with police training and operational staff in developing research papers that have been disseminated through NCPIC and published in policing journals.

Indigenous diversion

In June 2014, the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet published the findings of a set of evaluations conducted by the AIC in partnership with the Australian Institute of Family Studies. Funded under the National Indigenous Law and Justice Framework, the evaluations examined four programs aimed at diverting young people, particularly Indigenous young people, from the criminal justice system. The programs operated across three jurisdictions and targeted quite different points of involvement with the system. The report of the evaluations provides valuable information for policymakers and those seeking to establish youth diversion programs, including practical guidance on data requirements and other aspects of program design and implementation.

Stakeholder relationships

AIC staff working on the DUMA program have met regularly with police and external data collectors involved with the program, as well as disseminating DUMA findings through presentations and publications. This ongoing contact has proved valuable in keeping this important program running smoothly and resolving issues as they have arisen.

The AIC, through the CJMA team, provided research advisory services to NDLERF throughout 2013–14. AIC staff have liaised closely with members of the NDLERF board on matters such as the commencement and management of funded research projects and in clarifying issues associated with NDLERF funding.

In February 2014, Matthew Willis and the Director travelled to Bangkok to present an evaluation workshop to staff of the Thailand Department of Juvenile Observation and Protection. During the visit, Dr Tomison and the Director-General of the Department, Mr Thanis Sriyaphant, signed an MOU between the organisations. Under the memorandum, the AIC will provide capacity-building and professional services to the Department to support evaluation of the Justice for Our Youth project. This project is a multifaceted initiative that aims to improve justice outcomes and reduce offending by young people in Thailand by improving the quality of services provided by the Department.

During this visit, Dr Tomison and Mr Willis also met with senior staff of the TIJ to continue discussions about possible cooperative arrangements between the two Institutes. These discussions helped to pave the way for further discussions and the signing of an MOU in Canberra in May 2014.

In June 2014, CJMA Research Manager Matthew Willis joined with Professor Nick Tilley of University College London to present a workshop to the Victorian Community Crime Prevention network. The workshop provided an opportunity to engage with personnel involved in developing and delivering local government crime prevention initiatives and focused on how to conduct effective evaluations.

Transnational and organised crime

The TOC team focuses primarily on economic crime, consumer fraud, identity crime and cybercrime, all with an emphasis on the transnational and organised crime aspects of these topics. The team is made up of two permanent staff, with five staff seconded into the team to work on specific projects during the year. The team is led by Principal Criminologist, Dr Russell Smith.

Research directions

The research undertaken in 2013–14 has included the collection of new data through survey research in areas such as consumer fraud, identity crime and public sector fraud. In addition, risk and threat assessments on new topics, such as how organised crime recruitment takes place, the extent to which organised crime is involved in the manufacture and distribution of illicit substances, and the risks of fraud to Australia’s overseas aid program have also been undertaken. Other research has considered a number of cybercrime risks that arise through the use of cloud computing, the domain name registry system, net neutrality and communications confidentiality and online child exploitation. The aim of each of these studies was to understand how these technical regulatory systems operate, the opportunities for crime and misuse that they create and how these could best be minimised.

Staff also finalised an updated assessment of the cost of crime and criminal justice in Australia for the year 2011—the latest year for which data are available. This provided the most recent estimation of how much crime costs in Australia in terms of individual crime types, as well as prevention and response costs. The findings of this study will be published in late 2014.

Funding for four new research projects was secured through CRGs or consultancy projects. The first is being carried out in collaboration with Victoria University and involves a study of the effects of whistleblowing on a sample of individuals who have reported crime in the public interest in Victoria. Information is being provided by the Victorian Ombudsman and the STOPLINE organisation. The second study is being carried out in collaboration with the Queensland University of Technology and examines the experiences of victims of online consumer fraud through in-depth interviews with a sample of victims from across Australia. The third project is being carried out in collaboration with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission and explores victimisation experiences of a sample of individuals in Australia who have sent funds to overseas countries (scam victims). All three have a focus on the experiences of victims of economic crime and how they may best be supported.

One additional project funded through a CRG examines the procedural and evidentiary barriers to the use of unexplained wealth laws in various jurisdictions in Australia. These legal proceedings aim to recover proceeds of crime from individuals who display wealth that appears to be in excess of their legitimate sources of income. In addition to speaking with law enforcement personnel and prosecutors with experience of such proceedings, research is being conducted into best practice models for this relatively new way in which proceeds of crime can be confiscated.

Key program outputs

The team has undertaken a range of consultancy projects during the year for both Commonwealth and state/territory agencies. These included:

  • A research consultancy for the Victorian Parliament’s Law Reform, Drugs and Crime Prevention Committee that inquired into the supply and use of methamphetamine, particularly ‘ice’, in Victoria. The Committee invited the AIC to assist in conducting research and writing sections of the report that dealt with specific aspects of the terms of reference that fell within the research expertise of the Institute. These included the prevalence of the problem in Victoria and the role of organised crime groups, particularly outlaw motor cycle gangs in connection with the manufacture, importation and distribution of ‘ice’. The AIC also assisted the Committee by allowing it to use the AIC’s conference room in Canberra to hold public hearings with Commonwealth agencies and with a number of academics in Europe (via video conferencing).
  • A survey of a sample of 5,000 Australians aged 15 years or over to explore experiences of identity crime and misuse and how victims responded to such experiences was conducted for AGD.
  • A small consultancy funded by the auDA Foundation examined risks of misuse of the domain name system and potential solutions.
  • A short consultancy was undertaken for the Korean Institute of Criminology to assess criminal policy on net neutrality and communication confidentiality including the legal, practical and academic status, and prospects of net neutrality and communication confidentiality in Australia.

These projects were undertaken by AIC staff in collaboration with external academic and industry consultants, and led to a range of outputs, some of a confidential nature for government internal use only.

Research influence

TOC staff received many invitations to speak at national and international conferences, and events. During the year, over 20 presentations were given at conferences in Australia, as well as in diverse locations such as Cambridge, Wellington, Hong Kong, Bordeaux and Mexico City.

Dr Russell Smith presented the distinguished keynote address at the International Conference on Cybercrime and Computer Forensics in Hong Kong, co-organised by the City University of Hong Kong and the Chinese University of Hong Kong on the topic Trajectories of Cybercrime. The address reflected on how cybercrime has developed and how the cybercrimes of today could have been avoided or lessened in their impact had decision makers been aware of developments in the past and been willing to act on them. The AIC has been awarded a contract with Palgrave Macmillan to publish the conference papers in an edited volume entitled Cybercrime Risks and Responses: Eastern and Western Perspectives.

Dr Smith was also invited to participate in a Symposium at Parliament House in Wellington, opened by the New Zealand Prime Minister, Rt Hon John Key and chaired by Ms Miriam Dean QC, past president of the New Zealand Bar Association. The Symposium brought together a select group of judiciary, specialist academics, policy advisors, frontline professionals and justice sector Ministers from New Zealand and overseas. The AIC presented a paper as part of a panel that examined the likely crimescape affecting New Zealand in 2024, which focused on the risks created by new technologies and how technology may provide some solutions to crime in 2024.

Presentations were also delivered by TOC staff at a number of public and private sector fora including the Victorian IBAC Fraud Prevention Practitioners’ Forum, the ACT Department of Justice and Community Safety Directorate, Senior Executive Group, the ANU Cybercrime Observatory Workshop in Canberra and Akolade’s Fraud Risk and Control Forum in Melbourne, as well as the closing plenary address at the AIC–ACC’s International Serious and Organised Crime Conference in Brisbane on the topic Responding to Organised Crime Through Intervention in Recruitment Pathways that will be published as a Trends & Issues paper.

Participation in these events not only showcased AIC research, but also enabled the most recent developments in research from around the world to be located, examined, discussed and made use of for subsequent AIC projects.

The AIC has also been closely involved in Australia’s response to fraud against the Commonwealth, not only by conducting its annual survey of all Commonwealth Government entities, but also in advising the AGD on the new Commonwealth Fraud Control Policy and Resource Management Guide, Preventing, Detecting and Dealing with Fraud, and the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Rule 2014. This has led to the streamlining of the annual Fraud against the Commonwealth survey report.

From top: Bill Tupman via Skype. Margaret Akullo and Jeremy Douglas from the UNODC. Professor Ernesto Savona via Skype.

Highlight 4: Victorian Parliament’s crystal methamphetamine (ICE) inquiry

In September 2013, the Victorian Parliament requested the Law Reform, Drugs and Crime Prevention Committee to inquire into the supply and use of the illicit drug methamphetamine and particularly its crystalline form, known as ice. The reference arose from a perception in the media and from anecdotal evidence from law enforcement and health workers that the use of this drug was increasing in Victoria and having detrimental effects on communities, especially those in regional and rural areas of the state.

The AIC assisted the Committee with the development of its inquiry and undertook extensive research for the report.

In February 2014, the Committee held three days of their inquiry at the AIC meeting rooms in Canberra.

The Committee moved the hearings of what has become commonly known as the Ice Inquiry, to the AIC in order to capture evidence from national law enforcement, academic and other agency expertise available in the nation’s capital.

Chaired by Representative for the Western Victorian region, Mr Simon Ramsay MLC, with the participation of Deputy Chair, Mr Johan Scheffer MLC and Committee members Mr David Southwick MP and Mr Ben Carroll MP, the Committee heard from 22 witnesses including the ACC and the Australian Federal Police. These law enforcement agencies presented evidence of the increasing problem for law enforcement with escalating numbers of interceptions, seizures and arrests.

Witnesses acknowledged the increasing role of China and India in the international crystal methamphetamine trade, although the drug is also manufactured locally.

There was also discussion around the involvement of outlaw motorcycle gangs in all aspects of the market.

Dr Rebecca McKetin a Fellow in mental health research at the ANU College of Medicine, Biology and Environment, took the committee through the biophysical effects of crystal methamphetamine on a user, the surge of dopamine and serotonin, particularly when smoked, and the debilitating mental effects arising from heavy use. This includes the violence and paranoia that some users express, often in emergency wards in hospitals. She also briefed the Committee on the issues around addiction and rehabilitation.

Several witnesses expressed serious concern at increased use of crystal methamphetamine in Indigenous communities, including in remote communities.

Video-conferenced evidence was presented by several eminent overseas criminologists including Professor Ernesto Savona from the Joint Research Centre On Trans-national Crime, University of Milan and University of Trento, and Mr Bill Tupman, a University Fellow at Exeter as well as a consultant on terrorism and organised crime, and Mafia expert, Ms Anna Sergi.

Mr Jeremy Douglas from the UNODC also briefed the committee on the East Asia/Pacific aspects of the crystal methamphetamine trade, conservatively estimating the trade as accounting for US$15b in the region’s illegal economy.

The Committee also met with the Minister for Justice, Mr Michael Keenan, at the Australian Parliament.

The report approaches 1,000 pages and was tabled on 3 September 2014. It is available at: http://www.parliament.vic.gov.au/lrdcpc/article/2135

From left: Sandy Cook, Margaret Akullo, Sebastian Baumeister, Simon Ramsay MLC, Jeremy Douglas, David Southwick MP, Johan Scheffer MLC and Russell Smith.

Stakeholder relationships

During the year, over 60 meetings were held with external agencies and organisations to discuss economic crime, cybercrime and organised crime. Advice and discussions were held with Commonwealth entities based in Canberra, state and territory law enforcement bodies, Victoria’s Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission and industry groups including the Information Systems Audit and Control Association and VEDA. AIC staff were also able to meet with overseas stakeholders including the UK Home Office and National Fraud Authority in London, and members of the European Consortium for Political Research. Staff also provided academic referee reports for journals such as Crime, Law and Social Change, The European Review of Organised Crime, and the Security Journal. The AIC continued its role as Chair of the Research Sub-Group of the Australasian Consumer Fraud Taskforce and conducted its annual online fraud survey on behalf of the Taskforce.

Violence and exploitation

The V&E team focuses on violent crime (primarily but not confined to child and family violence, alcohol-related violence, armed robbery and homicide), human trafficking and slavery. The team consists of seven researchers led by Research Manager (Acting), Dr Samantha Bricknell.

Research directions

Throughout 2013–14, the V&E team continued in its role of coordinating two of AIC’s core crime monitoring programs—NHMP and NARMP. The team was also responsible for managing the Human Trafficking and Slavery Research Program, which was established in 2007 with the purpose of contributing to the Australian response to human trafficking and slavery.

In addition to the formal monitoring of violent crime types, the V&E program has continued to develop a range of primary and secondary research projects. A report based on the findings of a study on the support needs of male victims of non-sexual and non-domestic violence was published in January 2014. The study was funded by the Victims of Crime Research Fund (administered by Victims Services New South Wales, Department of Attorney General and Justice) to address the lack of male-focused victimology research undertaken in Australia and internationally.

Continuing its engagement with research on violent extremism, the AIC was commissioned by AGD on behalf of the Commonwealth Government’s Countering Violent Extremism Sub-Committee (CVESC) to undertake a review of existing evaluation practices of CVESC-funded projects. The three month assessment included a meta-evaluation of individual projects funded between 2010 and 2014, semi-structured interviews with CVESC members and a review of CVESC strategic documentation. The purpose of the study was to provide recommendations as to how CVESC-funded projects might be better evaluated in the future, to identify the extent to which funded projects met outcomes as stipulated in the National Framework and to identify improvements that could be made to governance and information sharing among CVESC members.

Work on two projects funded through CRGs continued into 2013–14. The first, conducted with Professor Stephen Tomsen at the University of Western Sydney, examines homicide events directly and indirectly related to the night-time economy. The second sought to develop a typology of family violence perpetration by triangulating officially recorded incidents of domestic and family violence from Tasmania’s Safe at Home program with descriptions of incidents and consultations with stakeholders. The latter project has generated three papers for publication in 2014–15, examining prior offending histories among family violence perpetrators, the utility of police offence records in identifying first-time family violence perpetrators and the use of academically derived domestic violence typologies for practitioners.

Key program outputs

National Homicide Monitoring Program

Data collection for the 2010–11 and 2011–12 financial years was completed in 2014, with an annual report being finalised for publication in the 2014–15 financial year. In addition to monitoring activities, NHMP data were used to produce reports on trends and key characteristics of same-sex intimate partner homicide in Australia, prisoner-on-prisoner homicide and arson homicide—the latter in collaboration with Bond University.

National Armed Robbery Monitoring Program

The 2009–10 NARMP monitoring report was published in January 2014. The purpose of the NARMP is to identify changing trends in armed robbery, in particular weapons used, and to provide insight into factors that might underpin these changes.

In mid-2014 however, a decision was made to refocus AIC’s armed robbery research to undertake tailored projects directly addressing knowledge gaps in our understanding of armed robbery. This decision was taken as a result of ongoing difficulties in developing a national dataset robust enough to enable detailed analysis of armed robberies. A new National Armed Robbery Research Program, to be formalised in 2014–15, will be focused on in-depth analyses of armed robbery that respond to AIC and stakeholder-identified areas for research that can more directly inform crime prevention activities. The first output arising from this change of focus is an examination of the interaction of location, environment and offender type in the shaping of armed robbery incidents.

Database of Victimisation Experiences

The Database of Victimisation Experiences was developed in 2013–14 through a reciprocal research arrangement with Victim Services, New South Wales (part of the NSW Department of Attorney General and Justice). The database comprises records of 730 qualitative evaluations of victims of violent crime who sought compensation through contacting Victim Services, New South Wales in the years 2005–06 to 2010–11. Records relate to victims of physical assault, sexual assault, domestic violence and robbery, and include information on the nature of the victim demographics and medical/psychiatric history, the nature of the victimisation and the consequences of the victimisation, specifically physical and psychological impacts, and effect on functioning.

The purpose of the Database of Victimisation Experiences is to examine in more detail the nature and impact of the specified violent crimes on victims in New South Wales and the social, psychological and developmental factors that may mediate (or exacerbate) the severity of experienced victimisation. It is intended that a series of papers on topics identified as relevant to stakeholders involved in victims services and advocacy will be developed from 2014–15.

Support for the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse

During the year, the AIC supported the Royal Commission by producing a number of research outputs. In partnership with the Australian Centre for Child Protection at the University of South Australia, the AIC developed a set of data extraction parameters for a range of agencies holding data of relevance to the Royal Commission, which were used to collate and analyse data.

In addition, two interrelated studies examining legislation were undertaken for the Royal Commission. The first involved a description of Australian sexual assault and child sexual abuse legislation as it was enacted at 31 December 2013. The second involved an analysis of the development of Australian sexual assault and child sexual abuse from 1788 to 2013 and the socio-political factors that informed the development of the legislation.

Human Trafficking and Slavery Research Program

The Human Trafficking and Slavery Research Program completed a number of reports examining trafficking and exploitation in Australia and the Asia–Pacific. These included a description of the characteristics and motivations of the 15 offenders convicted for trafficking and slavery offences in Australia as of 30 June 2012 and a two-report series on human trafficking involving marriage and partner migration to Australia—a trafficking scenario that occurs outside of the conventional commercial context. A report on the trafficking and exploitation experiences of Indonesian domestic workers was published as part of the AIC’s publication series using data from the International Organization of Migration Counter-Trafficking Module Indonesia data series.

In 2014, the AIC commenced research into the nature and context of forced marriage in Australia and New Zealand, and an examination of the anticipated effect of criminalising forced marriage. The project involves interviews with service providers, law enforcement and policymakers, and persons who were at risk or experienced a forced marriage. Other projects nearing completion are focused on trafficking into the sex and construction industries, and the potential establishment of an enhanced human trafficking and slavery monitoring program.

Research influence

Human trafficking and slavery

The AIC’s research on human trafficking and slavery has continued to provide important insights into human trafficking scenarios that were not previously well understood. The research has been used to highlight vulnerabilities in processes that inadvertently facilitate trafficking and has recommended solutions that assist in identifying and responding to trafficking events. Findings from this research were presented to a broad audience during 2013–14, including law enforcement, policymakers, academia and civil society, and received extensive attention from the Australian and international press.

Homicides in Australia

NHMP produces the most comprehensive set of data on Australian homicides. The dataset, which contains over 25 years of data on homicide incidents, victims and offenders, is an important resource for understanding the nature and trends in homicide in Australia. The AIC disseminates these important data by developing research partnerships and completing data requests with and for academics and government agencies.

Stakeholder relationships

The V&E team has a close working relationship with representatives from government and non-government agencies, including representatives of police services, portfolio agencies and service providers. Through these relationships, the AIC receives data for its monitoring and other research functions, assistance through the review of publications prior to release and partnered arrangements to facilitate discrete research projects.

Members of the team are also long-term representatives on fora such as the Firearms and Weapons Policy Working Group and the Interdepartmental Committee on Human Trafficking and Slavery. These engagements provide the AIC with the opportunity to promote and identify research projects that are of direct relevance to stakeholders, as well as providing an opportunity to maintain informed links to operational, policy and related activities undertaken by committee members.