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Australian crime : facts and figures 1999

  • ISBN 0 642 24134 1
  • Canberra: Australian Institute of Criminology, 1999

Homicide

The definition of homicide used by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) is the unlawful killing of another person. Homicide statistics discussed here include the following categories of offences:

  • Murder: the wilful killing of a person either intentionally or with reckless indifference to life; and
  • Manslaughter: the unlawful killing of a person caused:
    • without intent to kill, usually as a result of a careless, reckless or negligent act; or
    • intentionally but due to extreme provocation; or
    • when in a state of mind that impairs the capacity to understand or control one's actions.
  • There were 333 homicide victims recorded by the police in Australia in 1998, with 1.8 victims per 100 000 population. This represents about a 9% decrease from the rate in 1997.
  • Of these, 284 (85%) were victims of murder, and the rest were victims of manslaughter.
  • Recorded homicides averaged less than one per day.

Location of homicides

Figure 8 shows the percentages of homicides that occurred in the various location categories in 1998.

  • Of all homicides occurring in Australia in 1998, 60% took place in residential locations, 31% in community locations and 8% in other locations.

Figure 8 : Homicide, by location where incident occurred, 1998

Figure 8

Source: Reference 2

Figure 9 shows the number of male and female homicide victims per 100 000 persons, by discrete age categories.

Figure 9 : Age and gender of homicide victims, 1998 : rate per 100 000 relevant population

Figure 9

  • In all age categories, except the 65 and over group, the probability of being a victim of homicide was greater for males than for females.
  • Males in the 25 to 44 age group were most at risk of being a homicide victim, while females were most at risk when aged between 15 and 24.
  • There was a marked drop in the number of 15 to 24-year-old male victims of homicide in 1998 compared to 1997; 23 as opposed to 63.
  • The number of 45 to 64-year-old male victims of homicide in 1998 was 47, a much larger number than in 1997 which was 30.

Sources: References 2 and 3

Trend in homicide

Figure 10 displays the trend in the number of recorded victims for the two components of homicide (murder and manslaughter) for each month between January 1995 and December 1998.

  • The number of murder and manslaughter victims remained relatively constant over the four-year period. The exception is the spike in the murder figures in early 1996; this is due principally to the massacre at Port Arthur in April 1996.
  • The number of manslaughter victims for the period never exceeded nine in any one month.

Figure 10 : Monthly numbers of homicide victims, 1995-98

Figure 10

Weapons used in homicides

Figure 11 shows the percentage of homicides committed with various types of weapons. The category 'other weapon' includes any instrument or substance other than a firearm capable of inflicting damage, injury or death. This includes, but is not limited to, knives/sharp instruments, blunt instruments and rope. Also included in this category were nine cases in which the weapon used was not positively identified.

Figure 11 : Weapons used in commission of homicides, 1998

Figure 11

  • 50% of homicides recorded in 1998 were committed with a weapon other than a firearm, and 34% involved no weapon.
  • There was a decrease of almost 30% in the number of homicides by firearm from 1997 to 1998. A firearm was used in 54 (16%) homicides in 1998 compared to 76 (21%) in 1997.

Source: Reference 2

Historical trend in total homicides and firearm homicides

Figure 12 shows the trend in total homicides and homicide by firearm from 1915 to 1997.

Figure 12 : Homicides from 1915 to 1997 : rate per 100 000 population

Figure 12

  • The average total homicide rate per year for the period was 1.6 per 100 000 total population, with the average rate for homicide by firearm being 0.5 per 100 000 total population.
  • The lowest homicide rate this century was recorded in 1941; 0.8 per 100 000 population.

Source: Reference 4

National homicide monitoring program, Australian Institute of Criminology

Findings of the National homicide monitoring program for the ten-year period 1989-99 will be included in Australian crime : facts and figures 2000.

Assault (excluding sexual assault)

The ABS defines 'assault' as the direct infliction of force, injury or violence upon a person, including attempts or threats.

  • In 1998 there were 132 297 victims of assault in Australia recorded by the police: 709 victims per 100 000 population, a percentage increase of six from 1997.
  • Recorded assaults averaged about 15 an hour across Australia.

Location of assaults

Figure 13 shows the percentage of assaults that occurred in various locations in 1998.

Figure 13 : Assault, by location where incident occurred, 1998

Figure 13

  • Assaults most commonly occurred in a residential location (40%).
  • 38% of assaults occurred in community locations, with the bulk of assaults on street/footpaths, which accounted for 23% of all recorded assaults.
  • 20% of recorded assaults took place in other locations, including recreational facilities (10%).

Source: Reference 2

Victims of assault

Figure 14 displays the number of male and female victims of assault per 100 000 persons, by discrete age categories.

Figure 14 : Age and gender of assault victims, 1998 : rate per 100 000 relevant population

fig14

  • Males exhibited higher victimisation rates than females for all age categories.
  • Both males and females were most at risk of being a victim of assault while aged between 15 and 24.

Sources: References 2 and 3

Table 4 and Figure 15 present the number of victims of assault by location, age and gender.

Table 4 : Assault, by location * and gender and age of victim, Australia 1998
Age groupLocation of assault
ResidentialAll other locations
MaleFemaleMaleFemale
*This table excludes 2813 cases where the location was unspecified.
0-91 014772642318
10-149848923 5841 852
15-244 8578 11216 8668 094
25+13 46719 59930 10010 440
Not specified9838632 7511 072
Total21 30530 23853 94321 776
  • About two-thirds of female victims in the 25+ age category were assaulted in homes, whereas two-thirds of their male counterparts were assaulted in non-residential locations.

Figure 15 : Assault, by location and gender of victim, Australia 1998

Figure 15

  • A large majority (72%) of male victims was assaulted in non-residential locations, whereas a majority (58%) of female victims was assaulted in residential premises.

Source: Reference 5.

Trend in assaults

The trend in the number of recorded assaults for each month over the years 1995 to 1998 is illustrated in Figure 16.

Figure 16 : Monthly numbers of assault victims, 1995-98

Figure 16

  • The monthly number of victims of assault was 8 845 in January 1995, reaching a high of 12 265 in December 1998.
  • The data suggest that the number of recorded assault victims increased in the summer months.
  • There appears to be an underlying upward trend in the number of assaults.

Source: Reference 2

Sexual assault

The ABS definition of 'sexual assault' is a physical assault of a sexual nature, directed toward another person where that person:

  • does not give consent; or
  • gives consent as a result of intimidation or fraud; or
  • is legally deemed incapable of giving consent because of youth or temporary/permanent incapacity.

This offence includes: rape, sexual assault, sodomy, buggery, oral sex, incest, carnal knowledge, unlawful sexual intercourse, indecent assault, and assault with intent to rape.

  • There were 14 568 victims of sexual assault recorded by the police in Australia in 1998, an increase of 1.5% from 1997.
  • There were about 77 victims of sexual assault per 100 000 population.
  • This figure amounts to approximately 1.7 recorded sexual assaults per hour across Australia.

Location of sexual assaults

Figure 17 shows the percentage of sexual assaults occurring in various locations in 1998.

Figure 17 : Sexual assault, by location where incident occurred, 1998

Figure 17

  • Of all recorded sexual assaults in Australia in 1998, 66% occurred in residential locations, with most of these being in private dwellings.
  • 20% of sexual assaults occurred in community locations. Sexual assaults on street/footpaths accounted for 7% of all recorded sexual assaults.
  • Only 10% of recorded sexual assaults took place in other locations, including recreational facilities (5%).

Source: Reference 2

Victims of sexual assault

Figure 18 displays the number of male and female victims of sexual assault per 100 000 persons, by discrete age categories.

Figure 18 : Age and gender of sexual assault victims, 1998 : rate per 100 000 relevant population

Figure 18

  • For all age categories, females were more likely to be victims of sexual assault than males.
  • Both males and females in the 10-14 age range were most at risk of being victims of sexual assault.
  • Almost 75% of victims of sexual assault were young people under the age of 25 years.
  • The ABS Women's Safety survey revealed that only 15% of women who had experienced sexual violence in the last 12 months reported the incident to police. This indicates that Figure 18 may reflect gross under-reporting of sexual assault incidents.

Sources: Reference 2, 3 and 6

Relationship between victim of sexual assault and offender

Table 5 shows the relationship between the victims of sexual assault and the offenders.

Table 5 : Victims of sexual assault, by gender and victim-offender relationship, 1998
RelationshipMaleFemaleTotal
* Excludes 301 cases where gender of victim was unknown.
Number
Family member5412 5173 058
Known: non-family member9183 7294 647
Stranger2681 6511 919
Not stated8983 7454 643
Total2 62511 64214 267 *
Percentage
Family member20.621.617.2
Known: non-family member35.032.029.8
Stranger10.214.216.8
Not stated34.232.236.2
Total100.0100.0100.0
  • In more than one-third of the incidents, the relationship between the victim and offender was either not stated or inadequately described.
  • It is likely that this not stated category includes mainly cases where the offender was known to the victim. The ABS Crime and Safety Australia survey estimates that about 83% of sexual assault offenders were known to the victim, while about 17% were strangers/unknown.
  • The victim-offender relationship was similar for both males and females. Almost half the victims, both males and females, were sexually assaulted by offenders known to them. Where known, the offender was most likely to be a non-family member.

Sources: References 1 and 2

Table 6 and Figure 19 present victims of sexual assault, whose relationship to offender was known, by age, gender and location of crime. Please note that these data are adapted from cross-tabulations of five variables (gender, age, victim-offender relationship, location and State) received from the ABS. As such, the numbers do not include all incidents published in Recorded Crime Australia 1998 and Table 5.

Table 6 : Sexual assault, by victim-offender relationship, location and gender of victim, Australia 1998
RelationshipLocation of sexual assault
ResidentialAll other locations
MaleFemaleTotalMaleFemaleTotal
Family member3581 9742 332118437555
Known: non-family5632 5623 1252639721 235
No offender identified2561 0591 31569368437
Unknown to victim1316407711138871 000
Total1 3086 2357 5435632 6643 227

Figure 19 : Sexual assault, by location and victim-offender relationship, Australia 1998

Figure 19

  • Over 70% of the victims were assaulted in residential premises.
  • Over a quarter of the victims were sexually assaulted by a family member.
  • Overall about 16% of the victims were sexually assaulted by strangers; for those victims sexually assaulted in residential premises only 10% were by strangers.

Source: Reference 5

Trend in sexual assault

Figure 20 shows the trend in recorded sexual assaults for each month for the years 1995 to 1998.

Figure 20 : Monthly numbers of sexual assault victims, 1995-98

Figure 20

  • It appears there has been a slight increase in the underlying trend of monthly incidents over the time period.
  • The average number of sexual assault victims per month for the period was approximately 1 168.

Source: Reference 2

Robbery

'Robbery', as defined by the ABS, is the unlawful taking of property, without consent, accompanied by force or threat of force. Robbery victims can be persons or organisations.

Types of robbery

Robbery is divided into the following two categories of offences:

  • Armed robbery: This is robbery conducted with use of a weapon. (A weapon is any object used to cause fear or injury. It also includes imitation weapons and implied weapons: e.g. where a weapon is not seen by the victim but the offender claims to possess one).
  • Unarmed robbery: This is robbery conducted without the use of a weapon.

The percentages of armed and unarmed robberies in 1998 are given in Figure 21.

Figure 21 : Types of robbery, 1998

Figure 21

  • There were 23 778 robbery victims in Australia recorded by the police in 1998, with 127 victims per 100 000 population. This represents an increase of 10.6% from the rate in 1997. Of these, 54% were unarmed robberies, 38% were committed with a weapon other than a firearm, and 8% were committed with a firearm.
  • In 1 013 (9%) robberies the type of weapon was not further defined. This figure was included in the category 'other weapon', however it is possible that the weapons used in some of these robberies were firearms.
  • The average rate of total recorded robberies was about 2.7 an hour across Australia.

Trend in robbery

Figure 22 displays the trend in armed and unarmed robberies for each month over the years 1995 to 1998.

Figure 22 : Monthly numbers of robbery victims, 1995-98

Figure 22

  • The trend lines appear to exhibit a constant upward trend over the four years.
  • The number of armed robberies was consistently lower than the number of unarmed robberies, however there has been a greater increase in the number of armed robberies over the period.
  • Armed robberies have increased by 69% from 1995, while unarmed robberies have only increased by 33%.
  • The number of armed robberies was 493 in January 1995 and 834 in December 1998, while the number of unarmed robberies was 832 in January 1995 and 1 110 in December 1998.

Armed robbery

Figure 23 shows the percentage of armed robberies occurring in various locations in 1998, while Figure 24 shows the categories of victims (whether male, female or an organisation).

Figure 23 : Armed robbery, by location where incident occurred, 1998

Figure 23

  • There were 10 850 armed robberies recorded in Australia in 1998. This represents almost a 20% increase from the number of armed robberies recorded in 1997.
  • 61% of armed robberies occurred in 'other locations' including retail premises (50%).
  • 30% took place in community locations, with a large proportion being committed on street/ footpaths (20%).

Figure 24 : Victims of armed robbery, 1998

Figure 24

  • 43% of armed robberies were directed against organisations.
  • Of the individuals who were victims, the majority were male.

Source: Reference 2

The numbers of male and female victims of armed robbery per 100 000 persons are given in Figure 25, grouped into discrete age categories.

Figure 25 : Age and gender of armed robbery victims, 1998 : rate per 100 000 relevant population

Figure 25

  • In all age categories, males were more at risk of being a victim of armed robbery than were females.
  • Males aged between 15 and 24 were at least twice as likely to become a victim of armed robbery than persons in any other age category.

Sources: References 2 and 3

Unarmed robbery

Figure 26 shows the percentage of unarmed robberies that occurred in various locations in 1998.

Figure 26 : Unarmed robbery, by location where incident occurred, 1998References

Figure 26

  • There were 12 928 incidents of unarmed robbery recorded in Australia in 1998. This represents a 5.5% increase from the number of unarmed robberies recorded in 1997.
  • Two-thirds of unarmed robberies occurred in community locations, including 46% on street/ footpaths.
  • A further 24% of unarmed robberies were committed in other locations, such as retail premises (14%).

Figure 27 groups the victims of unarmed robbery into the categories of male, female and organisations.

Figure 27 : Victims of unarmed robbery, 1998

Figure 27

  • 90% of the victims of unarmed robbery were individuals, compared to 56% for armed robbery incidents.
  • The majority of victims of unarmed robbery were male (54%).

Source: Reference 2

Figure 28 shows the number of male and female victims of unarmed robbery per 100 000 persons for discrete age categories.

Figure 28 : Age and gender of unarmed robbery victims, 1998 : rate per 100 000 relevant population

Figure 28

  • People in the 15-24 age group were most likely to be victims of unarmed robbery.
  • In the younger age groups (44 and under), males were more at risk of becoming victims of unarmed robbery than females. However, females in the older age groups (45 and over) were more at risk than males.

Sources: References 2 and 3

Unlawful entry with intent (UEWI)

'Unlawful entry with intent' is defined by the ABS as the unlawful entry of a structure with the intent to commit an offence. UEWI offences include burglary, break and enter and some stealing.

  • In 1998 there were 435 670 incidents of UEWI recorded by the police in Australia, with 2 324 victims per 100 000 population. This is a 3.3% increase from the number recorded in 1997.
  • The rate of unlawful entry in residential locations was much higher at 4 191 per 100 000 households.
  • The average rate of occurrence of a UEWI was 50 per hour, or almost one every minute across Australia.

Location of unlawful entry with intent

Figure 29 shows the percentage of UEWIs occurring in various locations in 1998.

Figure 29 : Unlawful entry with intent, by location where incident occurred, 1998

Figure 29

  • 67% of UEWIs occurred in residential locations, a large majority of which were private dwellings.
  • 23% of UEWI offences were committed in other locations, including retail premises (12%).
  • 8% of recorded UEWIs took place in community locations, including educational facilities (5%).

Trend in unlawful entry with intent

Figure 30 shows the trend in recorded UEWIs for each month over the years 1995 to 1998.

Figure 30 : Monthly numbers of unlawful entry with intent offences, 1995-98

Figure 30

  • The trend line appears to exhibit a slight rise over the four-year period.
  • The average number of incidents per month was 34 163.

Source: Reference 2

Motor vehicle theft

The ABS definition of motor vehicle theft is the taking of a motor vehicle unlawfully or without permission, but it excludes damaging and tampering or interfering with motor vehicles. Under this category are motor vehicles such as cars, motor cycles, campervans and trucks.

  • In 1998, there were 131 572 motor vehicles recorded as stolen by the police, with 702 victims per 100 000 population.
  • Recorded motor vehicle thefts averaged one every four minutes across Australia in 1998.
  • In Australia in 1998 one motor vehicle was stolen for every 89 registered vehicles.

Location of motor vehicle theft

Figure 31 shows the percentage of motor vehicle thefts that took place in various locations in 1998.

Figure 31 : Motor vehicle theft, by location where incident occurred, 1998

Figure 31

  • Of all recorded motor vehicle thefts in Australia in 1998, 62% occurred in community locations; 41% from a street/footpath and 13% from a car park.
  • 18% of motor vehicle thefts were committed in residential locations.
  • 15% of motor vehicle thefts took place in other locations, such as a retail premises (10%).

Trend in motor vehicle theft

Figure 32 displays the trend in motor vehicle theft for each month over the period 1995 to 1998.

Figure 32 : Monthly numbers of motor vehicle thefts, 1995-98

Figure 32

  • The number of motor vehicle thefts appears to be relatively stable, at a little over 10 000 per month for the years 1995 to 1998.
  • Motor vehicle theft was at its lowest point in April 1996.

Source: Reference 2

Other theft

The ABS defines 'other theft' (stealing) as the taking of another person's property with the intention of permanently depriving the owner of the property illegally and without permission, but without force, threat of force, use of coercive measures, deceit or having gained unlawful entry to any structure even if the intent was to commit theft.

This offence includes such crimes as pickpocketing, bagsnatching, stealing, theft from a motor vehicle, theft of motor vehicle parts/accessories/petrol, stealing of stock/domestic animals, and theft of non-motorised vehicles/boats/aircraft/bicycles. It is the largest category of all crime.

  • A total of 565 214 incidents of other theft was recorded by the police in 1998, with 2 856 victims per 100 000 population in Australia. This represents a 6.5% increase from the number recorded in 1997.
  • A little over one 'other theft' occurred every minute across Australia in 1998.

Location of other theft

The percentages of other thefts occurring in various locations in 1998 are depicted in Figure 33.

Figure 33 : Other theft, by location where incident occurred, 1998

Figure 33

  • Stealing was equally common in community and 'other' locations.
  • Of all recorded incidents of stealing, 36% took place in community locations. Of these, 18% were from a street/footpath and 10% from a transport location.
  • 36% of stealing incidents took place in other locations, such as a retail premises (24%).
  • In 23% of cases, other theft occurred in a residential location.

Trend in other theft

The trend in other theft for each month over the four years 1995 to 1998 is illustrated in Figure 34.

Figure 34 : Monthly numbers of other theft, 1995-98

Figure 34

  • The trend line shows that there has been a slight rise over the four-year period.
  • The average number of stealing incidents recorded each month for the four-year period was 43 863.

Source: Reference 2