Australian Institute of Criminology

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Selected crime profiles

Homicide

The definition of homicide used by the 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 381 victims of homicide recorded by the police in Australia in 1999, with 2.0 victims per 100 000 population. This represents about a 15% increase from the number of victims recorded in 1998 (332).
  • Of these, 342 (90%) were victims of murder, and the remainder were victims of manslaughter.

Location of homicides

  • Of all homicides occurring in Australia in 1999, 65% took place in residential locations, with 54% in a dwelling.
  • In 1999, 13% of total homicides occurred on a street or footpath compared to 19% in 1998.

Figure 10 : Homicide, by location * where incident occurred, 1999



Figure 10

* Excludes unspecified location (n=16)

Source: Reference 2

Trend in homicide

Figure 11 : Number of homicide victims, by month, 1995-99

Figure 11

  • The number of murder and manslaughter victims fluctuated, on a monthly basis, over the five-year period. The spike in the murder figures in early 1996 is due to the Port Arthur tragedy in April of that year.

Source: Reference 2

Trend in total homicides and firearm homicides

Figure 12 : Homicide involving firearms as a percentage of total homicide, 1915 to 1998

Figure 12

  • The number of murder and manslaughter victims fluctuated, on a monthly basis, over the five-year period. The spike in the murder figures in early 1996 is due to the Port Arthur tragedy in April of that year.

Source: Reference 3

National Homicide Monitoring Program, Australian Institute of Criminology

The Australian Institute of Criminology began its National Homicide Monitoring Program (NHMP) in 1990. The program routinely collects information on variables related to homicide and aims to identify the characteristics which place people at risk of homicide victimisation and offending, and the circumstances that contribute to the likelihood of a homicide occurring. Some of the major findings of the NHMP during the period 1 July 1989 to 30 June 1999 are presented below.

Note: NHMP homicide counts may be different to the counts from other sources, namely Causes of Death statistics and Recorded Crime statistics. This is due to differences in NHMP and ABS counting rules and procedures.

  • During 1989-90 and 1998-99 the incidence of homicide oscillated around an average of 315 homicides each year. There were 327 homicide incidents during 1998-99, involving 341 victims and 324 identified offenders.

Figure 13 : Number of victims and offenders of homicide as a percentage of total victims and offenders, 1989-90 to 1998-99

Figure 13

  • On average, there were three males killed for every two females.
  • Males had higher rates of offending than females, with a ratio of about 7:1.

Figure 14 : Homicide, by number of victims and offenders involved, 1989-90 to 1998-99

Figure 14

  • The majority of homicide incidents involved one victim and one offender (81%), a trend that has remained stable over the 10-year period.
  • One in seven homicide incidents involved a single victim and more than one offender, while only one in 20 homicide incidents involved more than one victim.

Figure 15 : Age and gender of homicide victims, 1989-90 to 1998-99 : rate per 100 000 relevant population

Figure 15

  • Overall, males were killed at an average annual rate of 2.4 per 100 000 relevant population, whereas females were killed at an average annual rate of 1.4 per 100 000 relevant population.
  • In all age categories, except the 0 to 9 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.

Figure 16 : Age and gender of homicide offenders, 1989-90 to 1998-99 : rate per 100 000 relevant population

Figure 16

  • Homicide offenders were more likely to be male than female, independent of age.
  • The rate of offending peaked at ages between 15 and 24 for both males and females.
  • The gap between male and female rates of offending was widest in the 15 to 24 year age group. Men in this age group offended at a rate eight times the rate of women.

Victim-offender relationship

Figure 17 : Homicide victim-offender relationships, 1989-90 to 1998-99

Figure 17

  • Eight out of 10 homicides occurred between people who were known to one another.
  • The majority of homicide incidents involved friends or acquaintances, in particular males. There has been a significant increase in homicide incidents involving friends and acquaintances over the period.
  • Since 1995-96, there has been a decline in the number of family and stranger homicides as a percentage of total incidents. Together with the increase in homicides involving friends and acquaintances, these trends may be partly due to improved recording practices of victim-offender relationships, which has led to a significant decline in the number classified as unknown.
  • Homicides involving intimate partners accounted for about one-fifth of all incidents. Females were more likely to be killed by an intimate partner, whereas males were more likely to be killed by a friend or acquaintance.

Homicide involving children

Homicide incidents involving children are likely to occur in a residential location and to occur within the context of:

  • a domestic dispute between family members; or
  • fatal abuse of the child by an adult, usually a biological parent.

The percentage of homicide incidents involving children has remained relatively stable over the 10-year period, averaging about 9% each year.

Figure 18 : Age and gender of homicide victims, persons aged less than 15 years, 1989-90 to 1998-99 : rate per 100 000 relevant population

Figure 18

  • For both male and female children aged less than one year, the risk of being a victim of homicide was at least twice as high as the risk for other children.

Homicide in the course of other crime

Over the 10-year period, the number of homicide incidents occurring in the course of other crime has remained relatively stable.

Figure 19 : Percentage of homicide incidents occurring in the course of other crime, 1989-90 to 1998-99

Figure 19

  • About 13% of all homicide incidents occurred in the course of other crime.
  • During the 10-year period, one in 10 homicide incidents occurred in the course of robbery.
  • Homicide in the course of sexual assault is a rare event, accounting for 4% of homicide incidents.

The context of homicide

Figure 20 : Percentage of homicide victims according to gender and circumstances associated with killing, 1989-90 to 1998-99

Figure 20

  • Compared to males, females were more likely to be killed following a domestic altercation (68% to 22%).
  • One in four male homicides involved an alcohol-related argument. This is almost six times the contribution of alcohol-related arguments in total female homicides.
  • Motives involving money, drugs and revenge accounted for one-quarter of circumstances relating to male homicides, but only 10% of female homicides.

Weapons used in homicide

The type of weapon used in a homicide is associated with factors such as the age of the offender and the victim, the alleged motive of the offender, the location of the offence and weapon availability.

Figure 21 : Homicide victims according to type of weapon used, 1989-90 to 1998-99

Figure 21

  • Knives and other sharp instruments were the most common type of weapon used in the commission of homicides.
  • he rise in 'other weapon' homicides after 1995-96 was due mainly to an increase in incidents involving carbon monoxide poisoning and fire-related death.
  • The percentage of homicides involving firearms declined from 28% in 1989-90 to 20% in 1998-99. The two spikes in this trend were mainly attributable to single incidents on the Central Coast (New South Wales) in 1992-93 and Port Arthur in 1995-96.
  • Firearms were more likely to be used in homicide incidents involving multiple victims (46%) than those where there was a single victim (21%).
  • Between 1 July 1997 and 30 June 1999, nine in 10 offenders of firearm-related homicide were unlicensed firearms owners or persons using a firearm unregistered to themselves.

Sources: References 4, 5, 6, 7 and 18.

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 1999 there were 133 602 victims of assault in Australia recorded by the police: 704 victims per 100 000 population, an increase of 2% from the number of victims recorded during 1998.
  • Victims of assault accounted for 10% of victims of all selected offences in 1999 (1998: 10%).

Location of assaults

Figure 22 : Assault, by location* where incident occurred, 1999



Figure 22

* Excludes specific location (n=2 636)
  • Assaults most commonly occurred in a residential location (40%), in particular, private dwellings (35%).
  • Thirty-nine per cent of assaults occurred in community locations, with assaults on street/footpaths accounting for 24% of all recorded assaults.
  • Twenty-one per cent of recorded assaults took place in other locations, including recreational facilities (10%).
  • These patterns remained stable between 1998 and 1999.

Source: Reference 2.

Victims of assault

Figure 23 : Age and gender of assault victims, 1999 : rate per 100 000 of relevant population

Figure 23
  • Consistent with patterns in previous years, males exhibited higher victimisation rates than females for all age categories.
  • The majority of assaults (74%) occurred against people aged 15 to 44. Eight per cent occurred against people aged less than 15 years, while 12% of victims were aged 45 years and over. (The age of the victim was not specified in 6% of assaults.)
  • Both males and females were most at risk of being a victim of assault while aged between 15 and 24.
  • In general, rates for each age and gender category remained relatively stable between 1998 and 1999.

Sources: References 2 and 6.

Table 5 : Assault, by location* and sex* and age of victim, Australia, 1999
Age groupResidentialAll other locations
MaleFemaleMaleFemale
Number of victims
0-9947642625312
10-141 0388663 5651 786
15-244 9227 93617 3428 017
25-345 3039 41015 2565 637
35-444 2066 3808 6993 117
45+4 0093 7106 2991 999
Not specified5976581 905776
Total21 02229 60253 69121 644
Percentage
0-94.52.21.21.4
10-144.92.96.68.3
15-2423.426.832.337.0
25-3425.231.828.426.0
35-4420.021.616.214.4
45+19.112.511.79.2
Not specified2.82.23.53.6
Total100.0100.0100.0100.0
* This table excludes 7 643 cases where the location of the assault or the victim's gender was unspecified.
  • For both male and female victims of assault aged 10 to 24, the majority of assaults occurred in a non-residential location. In contrast, assaults against persons in the 0 to 9 age group, irrespective of gender, were more prevalent in residential locations.
  • In residential locations, assaults were more commonly recorded against males than females in the 0 to 14 and the 45 and over age groups. However, an opposite pattern is evident for persons in other age categories.
  • About 60% of female victims aged 15 years and over were assaulted in homes, whereas only 28% of their male counterparts were assaulted in this type of location.
  • The most likely age of an assault victim and the location of the assault were, for males, aged 15 to 24 in a non-residential location and, for females, aged 25 to 34 in a residential location.

Figure 24 : Assault by location and sex of victim, Australia, 1999

Figure 24

  • 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. These findings are consistent with those observed in 1998.

Source: Reference 8

Trend in assaults

Figure 25 : Number of assault victims, by month, 1995-99

Figure 25

  • The number of assaults has grown by an average 5.7% each year between 1995 and 1999. This is almost six times the annual growth of the Australian population over the same period.
  • Assault is seasonal. The number of recorded assault victims increases during the summer months.

Sources: References 6 and 8.

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.

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

  • There were 14 074 victims of sexual assault recorded by the police in Australia in 1999, a decrease of 1.8% from 1998.
  • There were about 74 victims of sexual assault per 100 000 population.

Location of sexual assaults

Figure 26 : Sexual assault by location* where incident occurred, 1999



Figure 26

* Excludes unspecified location (n=626)
  • Of all recorded sexual assaults in Australia in 1999, 68% occurred in residential locations, in particular, private dwellings (62%).
  • 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%).
  • These patterns remained relatively stable between 1998 and 1999.

Source: Reference 2.

Victims of sexual assault

Figure 27 : Age and gender of sexual assault victims, 1999 : rate per 100 000 relevant population

Figure 27

  • Almost 71% of sexual assault victims were young people under the age of 25 years.
  • In each age group, females were more likely to be victims of sexual assault than males.
  • Consistent with 1998, both males and females in the 10 to 14 age range were most at risk of being sexually assaulted in 1999.
  • The Australian component of the International Crime Victims Survey (2000) revealed that only 15% of women who had experienced sexual violence in 1999 reported the incident to police. This indicates that Figure 27 may reflect gross under-reporting of sexual assault incidents.

Sources: References 1, 2 and 6.

Victim-offender relationship

Table 6 : Victims of sexual assault, by gender and victim-offender relationship, 1999
Victim-offender relationshipMaleFemaleTotal
Number
Family member5392 6943 233
Known non-family member1 0193 964 4 983
Stranger2571 7762 033
Not stated5862 8983 484
Total2 40111 33213 733 *
Percentage
Family member22.423.823.5
Known non-family member42.435.036.3
Stranger10.715.714.8
Not stated24.425.625.4
Total100.0100.0100.0
* Excludes 341 cases where gender of victim was unknown.
  • In more than one-quarter of the incidents, the relationship between the victim and offender was either not stated or inadequately described (1998: 36%).
  • It is likely that the 'not stated' category includes mainly cases where the victim knew the offender. Note that the significant decrease in the number of 'not stated' cases between 1998 and 1999 coincided with an increase in the number of recorded victims who knew their offender.
  • In 1999, almost two-thirds of male victims and 59% of female victims of sexual assault knew the offender.

Source: Reference 2.

Table 7 : Sexual assault, by victim-offender relationship, location and sex of victim, Australia, 1999
RelationshipLocation of sexual assault
ResidentialAll other locations
MaleFemaleTotalMaleFemaleTotal
Family member2551 3701 62519135154
Known non-family4862 0052 491207569776
No offender identified2711 1891 460117607724
Unknown to victim62413475117793910
Total1 0744 9776 0514602 1042 564
Note: Data for New South Wales not included

Figure 28 : Sexual assault by location and victim-offender relationship, Australia, 1999



Figure 28

Note: Data for New South Wales not included.
  • Seven in 10 victims of a sexual assault committed in a residential location knew the offender.
  • Two-thirds of sexual assaults where the offender was unknown to the victim occurred in a non-residential location.

Source: Reference 8.

Trend in sexual assault

Figure 29 : Number of sexual assault victims, by month, 1995-99

Figure 29

  • Despite monthly fluctuations, the number of recorded sexual assault victims has remained relatively stable over the entire period.
  • The average number of sexual assault victims per month for the period was approximately 1 169.

Source: Reference 8.

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; for example, 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.

Figure 30 : Types of robbery, 1999 Figure 30

  • There were 22 590 recorded victims of robbery in Australia during 1999, with 119 victims per 100 000 population. This represents a 5% decrease on the number recorded in 1999.
  • The decline in the number of robbery victims between 1998 and 1999 was due to a 13% decline in the number of armed robberies in 1999. The number of unarmed robberies increased by 2%.
  • Of the 1999 incidents, 59% were unarmed robberies, 35% were committed with a weapon other than a firearm and 6% were committed with a firearm.

Trend in robbery

Figure 31 : Number of robbery victims, 1993-99

Figure 31

  • Prior to the decline in armed robberies in 1999, the number of armed robbery victims was increasing at a faster rate than the number for unarmed robbery.
  • The proportion of total robbery accounted for by armed robbery increased from 36% to 46% between 1994 and 1998 before declining to 42% in 1999.

Armed robbery

  • There were 9 439 armed robberies recorded in Australia in 1999. This represents a 13% decrease from the number of armed robberies recorded in 1998.

Figure 32 : Armed robbery, by location* where incident occurred, 1999

Figure 32

* Excludes unspecified location (n=173).

  • Consistent with past trends, the majority of armed robberies in 1999 occurred in retail premises (47%).
  • Thirty-four per cent took place in community locations, with a large proportion being committed on street/footpaths (23%).

Figure 33 : Victims of armed robbery, 1999



Figure 33

  • Thirty-nine per cent of armed robberies were directed against organisations. In 1998 there were 4 650 organisations recorded as victims of armed robberies, in comparison to 3 668 in 1999, a decline of 21%.
  • Of the persons who were victims in 1999, the majority were male (65%). A similar trend was observed in 1998 (67%).

Source: Reference 2.

Figure 34 : Age and gender of armed robbery victims, 1999 : rate per 100 000 relevant population

Figure 34

  • 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.
  • Despite the overall decline in the number of armed robbery victims between 1998 and 1999, individuals aged 15 to 24 years increased their participation among victims of robbery by 7% in 1999 relative to 1998.
  • Between 1998 and 1999, for persons aged 25 to 44, the number of male and female victims of armed robbery declined by 17% and 7% respectively.

Sources: References 2 and 6.

Unarmed robbery

  • There were 13 151 victims of unarmed robbery recorded in Australia in 1999. This represents a 2% increase from the number of unarmed robberies recorded in 1998.

Figure 35 : Unarmed robbery by location* where incident occurred, 1999

Figure 35

* Excludes unspecified location (n=429).

  • Over two-thirds of unarmed robberies occurred in community locations (armed robbery: 34%), including 47% on street/footpaths and 12% in a transport location.
  • One-quarter of unarmed robberies occurred in other locations, comprising 15% in a retail location (armed robbery: 47%).

Figure 36 : Victims of unarmed robbery, 1999



Figure 36

  • Ninety per cent of the victims of unarmed robbery were individuals, compared to 60% of armed robberies.
  • Of the persons who were victims in 1999, the majority were male (58%). In 1998 there were 6 954 male victims of unarmed robbery, whereas in 1999 there were 7 634 victims, an increase of 10%. Female victims of unarmed robbery declined over this period by 10%.
  • Only 8% of victims of unarmed robbery were organisations (armed robbery: 39%).

Source: Reference 2.

Figure 37 : Age and gender of unarmed robbery victims, 1999 : rate per 100 000 relevant population

Figure 37

  • Males in the 15-19 age group were most likely to be victims of unarmed robbery. The number of male victims in this age group increased by 25% between 1998 and 1999.
  • 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 group (45 and over) were more at risk than males.
  • For persons aged 45 and over, the unarmed robbery rate for females declined from 53.9 in 1998 to 43.6 per 100 000 relevant population in 1999. For males in this age group, the rate also declined, from 31.8 to 28.4 per 100 000 relevant population.

Sources: References 2 and 6.

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.

Types of UEWI

UEWI is divided into the following two categories of offences:

  • UEWI-property: This is UEWI involving the taking of property from a structure.
  • UEWI-other: This is UEWI where no property is taken from a structure.
  • In 1999, there were 415 600 incidents of UEWI recorded by the police in Australia, of which 322 913 involved the taking of property from a structure.
  • The rate of UEWI in 1999 (2 192 victims per 100 000 population) decreased by 5.8% compared to its level in 1998.
  • Fifty-eight per cent of UEWI occurred in private dwellings in 1999. In 1998, 67% of UEWI was in private dwellings. This represents 3 811 per 100 000 households in 1999, a decrease from 4 177 per 100 000 households in 1998.

Location of unlawful entry with intent

Figure 38 : Unlawful entry with intent, by location* where incident occurred, 1999

Figure 38

* Excludes unspecified location (n=8 150).

  • Sixty-seven per cent of UEWIs occurred in residential locations, in particular, private dwellings (58%).
  • Of the UEWIs occurring in private dwellings, 80% involved the taking of property.
  • Twenty-four per cent of UEWI offences were committed in other locations, including retail premises (12%).
  • Only 9% of recorded UEWIs took place in community locations such as educational facilities (5%).

Trend in unlawful entry with intent

Figure 39 : Numbers of unlawful entry with intent victims, by month, 1995-99.



Figure 39

  • Between 1995 and 1998, the number of victims of UEWI increased by an average annual rate of 3%. A decline in recorded victims occurred in 1999 relative to 1998 (2%).
  • On average, UEWI incidents involving the taking of property accounted for 78% of all UEWI, a pattern that has remained consistent over the five-year period.

Source: Reference 8.

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 1999, there were 129 865 motor vehicles recorded as stolen by the police, with 684 victims per 100 000 population. This represents a 1% decrease on the number recorded in 1998.
  • Recorded motor vehicle thefts averaged one every four minutes across Australia in 1999.
  • One motor vehicle was stolen for every 93 registered vehicles.

Location of motor vehicle theft

Figure 40 : Motor vehicle theft, by location* where incident occurred, 1999



Figure 40

* Excludes unspecified location (n=5 150).
  • Of all recorded motor vehicle thefts in Australia in 1999, 61% occurred in community locations, comprising 41% from a street/footpath, 11% from a car park and 10% from other community locations.
  • Twenty per cent of motor vehicle thefts were committed in residential locations.
  • Eighteen per cent of motor vehicle thefts took place in other locations, such as retail premises (13%).
  • The number of victims of motor vehicle thefts occurring in car parks and on street/footpaths decreased in 1999 by 15% and 5% respectively.
  • Despite the decrease in the number of motor vehicle thefts between 1998 and 1999, an increase (23%) in the number of thefts occurring in retail locations was recorded in 1999.

Source: Reference 2.

Trend in motor vehicle theft

Figure 41 : Number of motor vehicle theft victims, by month, 1996-99

Figure 41
  • Between 1997 and 1999, the average number of motor vehicles stolen each month remained relatively stable. On average, about 10 885 vehicles were stolen each month during this period.

Source: Reference 8.

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, bag-snatching, 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 610 276 victims of other theft was recorded by the police in 1999, with 3 218 victims per 100 000 population in Australia. This represents an 8.3% increase from the number recorded in 1998.

Location of other theft

Figure 42 : Other theft, by location* where incident occurred, 1999



Figure 42

* Excludes unspecified location (n=31 307)
  • Of all recorded incidents of stealing, 37% took place in other locations, in particular retail premises (25%).
  • Thirty-six per cent of incidents took place in community locations, with 19% on a street/footpath and 7% in a car park.
  • In 26% of cases, other theft occurred in a residential location, comprising 10% from private dwellings. The number of thefts in a residential location increased by 18% between 1998 and 1999, largely due to the increase in thefts in outbuildings and on residential land.

Source: Reference 2.

Trend in other theft

Figure 43 : Number of other theft victims, by month, 1995-99

Figure 43

  • The number of recorded victims of other theft has increased at an average annual rate of 4.5% between 1995 and 1999.
  • The average number of victims of other theft recorded each month for the five-year period was 45 262. In 1999, the number of victims recorded on average each month was 50 856 compared to 40 840 in 1995.

Source: Reference 8.