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Alleged offenders

This chapter presents data on alleged offenders, classified according to gender and age. These data should be interpreted with great caution. The main purpose is to give an indicative view of major issues relating to offenders, in particular the following:

  • What is the age at which offender rates peak, and does it shift over time?
  • Is the age pattern of male offender rates similar or different to that of females?
  • Are female offender rates on the increase?

The ABS does not publish offender data. Official data on gender and age of alleged offenders are published by the police services of Victoria, Queensland and South Australia and refer to the number of persons who have allegedly committed a criminal offence and who have been processed for that offence. Police statistics on alleged offenders are not available from New South Wales or the remaining States and Territories.

The number of alleged offenders does not equate to the number of distinct alleged offenders during a year because police may take action against the same individual for several offences or the individual may be processed on more than one occasion for the same offence. Nor does it equate to the total number of crimes cleared during a given period. Throughout this chapter, the terms 'offender' and 'offender rate' mean 'alleged offender' and 'alleged offender rate' respectively.

The term 'total (alleged) offender population' refers to the total number of (not necessarily distinct) individuals aged 10 years and over processed by police for any of the above offences in the states of Victoria, Queensland and South Australia. The rates of total offenders included in the tables and graphs in this chapter are calculated relative to the total population aged 10 years and over in these jurisdictions (Reference 4).

The offender data included here are specific to the following major types of crime:

  • homicide (murder, attempted murder, manslaughter, infanticide and driving causing death);
  • assault;
  • sexual assault;
  • robbery;
  • unlawful entry with intent;
  • motor vehicle theft; and
  • other theft (theft from a vehicle, theft from shops, other theft).

Source: References 4, 20, 21, 22 and 23.

Gender

Figure 46 : Offenders by gender, rate per 100 000 persons, 1995-1996 and 1999-2000



Figure 46
  • Males are about four times more likely to be identified as offenders than females.

Source: References 4, 20, 21, 22 and 23.

Age

Persons aged 15 to 19 years (males and females) are more likely to be processed by police regarding the commission of a crime compared to persons in other age groups. In 1999-2000 the offending rate for persons aged 15 to 19 years was six times the offender rate for the remainder of the population.

Figure 47 : Offenders by age, rate per 100 000 persons, 1995-1996 and 1999-2000



Figure 47
  • Except for persons aged between 20 and 24, offender rates have remained stable between 1995-1996 and 1999-2000. The offender rate for persons in this age group increased by 21%, from 3 608 in 1995-1996 to 4 353 in 1999-2000.

Source: References 4, 20, 21, 22 and 23.

Females

Figure 48 : Female offenders as a percentage of total offenders by age, 1995-1996 and 1999-2000



Figure 48
  • A slight increase in female participation among the offender population was recorded between 1995-1996 and 1999-2000. However, this increase has not been uniform across age groups.
  • For persons aged 10-14 years, the percentage of offenders that were female increased from 24% to 29% between 1995-1996 and 1999-2000.
  • Among persons aged 25 years and over, the female contribution to total offenders had a slight decline from 24% in 1995-1996 to 22% in 1999-2000.

Figure 49 : Female offenders as a percentage of total offenders by offence type, 1995-1996 and 1999-2000



Figure 49
  • Compared to 1995-1996, in 1999-2000 female offending increased for assault, robbery, UEWI and motor vehicle theft.
  • Female participation in the offender population was highest for 'other theft' and lowest for sexual assault between 1995-1996 and 1999-2000.

Source: References 4, 20, 21, 22 and 23.

Juveniles

There are differences between the states in the definition of a juvenile. In Victoria and Queensland the definition of juvenile includes persons aged between 10 and 16 years. In South Australia, however, a juvenile is a person aged between 10 and 17 years. In this section, for the purposes of maintaining comparability, the term 'juvenile offender' includes alleged offenders aged 10 to 16 years.

In 1999-2000, juveniles accounted for about one-quarter of the total offender population.

Figure 50 : Juvenile and adult offenders, rate per 100 000 persons, 1995-1996 and 1999-2000



Figure 50
  • Compared to adults, juveniles are three times more likely to be identified as offenders.
  • The offender rate among juveniles has declined between 1995-1996 and 1999-2000; in contrast, the adult rate has increased (statistically significant, p<0.01).

Figure 51 : Female offenders as a percentage of total juvenile and adult offenders, 1995-1996 and 1999-2000



Figure 51
  • In 1999-2000, females comprised about 25% of the juvenile offender population and 19% of the adult offender population.
  • There has been an increase in the percentage of female juvenile offenders between 1995-1996 and 1999-2000, while the percentage of female adult offenders has remained stable.

Compared to adults, juveniles are less likely to commit violent offences such as homicide, assault and sexual assault than property offences.

Figure 52 : Ratio of juvenile to adult offenders, by offence type, 1995-1996 and 1999-2000



Figure 52
  • Relative to adult offender rates, juvenile rates have remained stable for the offences of homicide, assault and sexual assault between 1995-1996 and 1999-2000.
  • Juvenile rates have declined, relative to adult rates, for the offences of robbery, motor vehicle theft, unlawful entry with intent and other theft.

Source: References 4, 20, 21, 22 and 23.

Specific offences

Gender-age patterns of offenders vary between offences and over time.

While the majority of offenders for each type of crime discussed in this section are male, the level of female involvement in crime has increased since 1995-1996 for most offences.

The age structure of the offender population also differs according to gender. A larger percentage of female offenders are juvenile compared to male offenders.

Homicide

Figure 53 : Homicide, male offenders by age, rate per 100 000 persons, 1995-1996 and 1999-2000



Figure 53
  • The male offender rate has remained highest among individuals aged 15 to 24 years between 1995-1996 and 1999-2000.
  • Since 1995-1996, the rate has increased across all age groups, with the exception of children (10 to 14 years).

Figure 54 : Homicide, female offenders by age, rate per 100 000 persons, 1995-1996 and 1999-2000



Figure 54
  • As was the case for males, the rate of female homicide offending was highest among 15-24-yearolds between 1995-1996 and 1999-2000.

Figure 55 : Homicide, ratio of male to female rates of offending by age, 1995-1996 and 1999-2000



Figure 55
  • Homicide is committed mainly by males.
  • The ratio of male to female offending has remained stable over most age groups between 1995-1996 and 1999-2000, with the exception of persons aged 15 to 19 years. Males in this age group have increased their risk of being an offender relative to females.

Source: References 4, 20, 21, 22 and 23.

Assault

Approximately 13% of assault offenders in 1999-2000 were juveniles, although this trend was not uniform across gender groups. Juveniles accounted for 21% of female offenders compared to only 11% of male offenders.

Figure 56 : Assault, male offenders by age, rate per 100 000 persons, 1995-1996 and 1999-2000



Figure 56
  • Males aged 15 to 24 years had the highest offender rates for assault.
  • Between 1995-1996 and 1999-2000, there was a decline in the offender rate among males aged 15 to 24 years, whereas it remained stable for children (10-14) and those aged 25 years and over.

Figure 57 : Assault, female offenders by age, rate per 100 000 persons, 1995-1996 and 1999-2000



Figure 57
  • The rate of female offending peaked between 15 and 19 years, both in 1995-1996 and 1999-2000.
  • Since 1995-1996, female offender rates have remained stable except for the 15-19-year age group, which recorded a significant increase (p<0.01).

Figure 58 : Assault, ratio of male to female offender rates by age, 1995-1996 and 1999-2000



Figure 58
  • Females aged 15 to 24 years increased their participation in the offender population relative to males between 1995-1996 and 1999-2000.

Source: References 4, 20, 21, 22 and 23.

Sexual assault

In 1999-2000, 99% of all sexual assault offenders were male. Eight per cent of the offender population were juveniles, a pattern that has remained stable since 1995-1996.

Figure 59 : Sexual assault, male offenders by age, rate per 100 000 persons, 1995-1996 and 1999-2000



Figure 59
  • Offender rates have declined across all age groups between 1995-1996 and 1999-2000.
  • The peak age of male offenders declined from 20-24 years in 1995-1996 to 15-19 years, in 1999-2000.

Source: References 4, 20, 21, 22 and 23.

Robbery

Figure 60 : Robbery, male offenders by age, rate per 100 000 persons, 1995-1996 and 1999-2000



Figure 60
  • Most male robbery offenders were between the ages of 15 and 19. This pattern has remained stable since 1995-1996.
  • Since 1995-1996 there has been an increase in the offender rate among males aged 15 to 24 years.

Figure 61 : Robbery, female offenders by age, rate per 100 000 persons, 1995-1996 and 1999-2000



Figure 61
  • As was the case for males, the rate of female offending was highest among individuals aged 15 to 19 years.
  • There has been a slight increase in the offender rate for females aged 15-24 years between 1995-1996 and 1999-2000.

Figure 62 : Robbery, ratio of male to female offender rates by age, 1995-1996 and 1999-2000



Figure 62
  • Females aged 20 years and over increased their participation in the offender population, relative to males, between 1995-1996 and 1999-2000.

Source: References 4, 20, 21, 22 and 23.

Motor vehicle theft

Figure 63 : Motor vehicle theft, male offenders by age, rate per 100 000 persons, 1995-1996 and 1999-2000



Figure 63
  • Male offending peaked among individuals aged between 15 and 19 years. This pattern has remained stable between 1995-1996 and 1999-2000.
  • The offender rate among males aged 15-19 years has declined in 1999-2000, while there has been an increase in the offending rate of 20-24-year-olds.

Figure 64 : Motor vehicle theft, female offenders by age, rate per 100 000 persons, 1995-1996 and 1999-2000



Figure 64
  • Female offender rates were highest among individuals aged 15-19 years, a pattern that has remained consistent since 1995-1996.

Figure 65 : Motor vehicle theft, ratio of male to female offender rates by age, 1995-1996 and 1999-2000



Figure 65
  • Females increased their participation in the offender population, relative to males, between 1995-1996 and 1999-2000 across all age groups (significant, p<0.01).

Source: References 4, 20, 21, 22 and 23.

Unlawful entry with intent

In 1999-2000, one in every two offenders involved in unlawful entry with intent was less than 20 years of age.

Figure 66 : UEWI, male offenders by age, rate per 100 000 persons, 1995-1996 and 1999-2000



Figure 66
  • Offender rates for UEWI peaked among males aged 15 to 19 years.
  • The offender rate declined among males aged less than 20 years, whereas an increase in rates was recorded for males aged between 20 and 24 years.

Figure 67 : UEWI, female offenders by age, rate per 100 000 persons, 1995-1996 and 1999-2000



Figure 67
  • As was the case for males, female offender rates were highest among individuals aged 15 to 19 years.

Figure 68 : UEWI, ratio of male to female offender rates by age, 1995-1996 and 1999-2000



Figure 68
  • Females aged 10 to 24 years increased their participation among the offender population, relative to males, between 1995-1996 and 1999-2000.

Source: References 4, 20, 21, 22 and 23.

Other theft

Relative to the other major crimes included in this chapter, 'other theft' offences, such as shoplifting, had the greatest amount of female involvement. In 1999-2000, about one in three offenders involved with stealing was female.

Figure 69 : Other theft, male offenders by age, rate per 100 000 persons, 1995-1996 and 1999-2000



Figure 69
  • Similar to other property crimes, the offender rate for other theft was highest among males aged 15 to 19 years.
  • Since 1995-1996, the rate of other theft offenders has increased among the older age groups, in particular males aged 20 to 24 years.

Figure 70 : Other theft, female offenders by age, rate per 100 000 persons, 1995-1996 and 1999-2000



Figure 70
  • The rate of female offending was highest among individuals aged between 10 and 19 years.

Figure 71 : Other theft, ratio of male to female offender rates by age, 1995-1996 and 1999-2000



Figure 71
  • Females aged 10 to 19 years recorded a slight increase among the total offender population, relative to males, between 1995-1996 and 1999-2000.
  • In contrast, among females aged 20 years and over, there was a decline in female participation in the offender population, relative to males, between 1995-1996 and 1999-2000.

Source: References 4, 20, 21, 22 and 23.