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.

This reflects categories recorded by police at the time of the homicide and does not necessarily reflect the final outcome at conviction of an offender.

It does not include:

attempted murder
the attempt to unlawfully kill another person by any means, act or omission.
driving causing death
the unlawful killing of a person caused through culpable, dangerous or negligent driving.

Data from the ABS are supplemented with more detailed information collected by the Australian Institute of Criminology through the National Homicide Monitoring Program (NHMP). The ABS reports on a calendar year and the AIC on a financial year basis.

There were 293 homicides in Australia in 2004, with 1.5 victims per 100,000 population. This represents a decrease of 14% over the 341 homicides in 2003. Murder accounted for 87% of the victims recorded in 2004. The remainder were victims of manslaughter.

Source: References 1 and 4

Location of homicides

Figure 7 : Homicide, type of location, 2004

Figure 7

  • Homicides are most likely to occur in the home. Of all homicides occurring in Australia in 2004, 56% took place in a private dwelling.
  • The next most common location is on the street/footpath (15%).
  • Homicides were comparatively less likely to occur at recreational (2%), transport (2%) and retail locations (6%).

Source: Reference 1

Victims of homicide

Figure 8 : Age and gender of homicide victims, rate per 100,000 persons, 2004

Figure 8

  • 64% of homicide victims in 2004 were male.
  • In all age categories the risk of being a victim of homicide was higher for males than for females, with the exception of persons aged 10-14.
  • Males in the 25 to 44 age group were most at risk of being a homicide victim.
  • The age and gender breakdown of homicide victims in 2004 is largely unchanged from previous years.

Source: References 1 and 2

Victim-offender relationship

Figure 9 : Homicide victims, gender and relationship to offender, percentages, 2003-04

Figure 9

(a) Includes acquaintances.

(b) Other includes business associates, employee/employer, colleagues and other relationships.

  • The victim-offender relationship for homicide differs according to the gender of the victims.
  • Male victims are more likely to be killed by a friend or acquaintance, whereas female victims are more likely to be killed by a family member (intimate partner or family).
  • In 2003-04 only 7% of female victims were killed by a person unknown to them (stranger), compared with 31% of male victims.

Source: Reference 4

Figure 10 : Homicide, type of weapon, 2003-04

Figure 10

  • There are a variety of means by which homicide is committed. In 2003-04 knives were more likely to be used than any other weapon (33%).
  • A further 22% of homicides were committed using physical force (hands/feet), 17% with firearms, and 12% with blunt instruments.

Source: Reference 4

Trend in homicide

Figure 11 : Number of homicides, 1993-2004

Figure 11

  • The number of murders fluctuated slightly on an annual basis between 1993 and 2004, while manslaughter remained relatively stable. The number of murders peaked in 1999 with 343 recorded.
  • The number of manslaughters peaked in 2002 with 48 being recorded in that year.
  • The 256 murders recorded in 2004 was the lowest number recorded in any one year since 1993.

Source: Reference 1

Trend in firearm homicides

Figure 12 : Homicides involving firearms as a percentage of total homicides, 1915-2003

Figure 12

  • The percentage of homicides committed with a firearm continued a declining trend begun in 1969. In 2003, fewer than 16% of homicides involved firearms. The figure was similar in 2002 and 2001, down from a high of 44% in 1968.

Source: Reference 3

Assault

The ABS defines assault as the direct infliction of force, injury or violence upon a person, including attempts or threats. ABS did not release assault statistics for 2004. Consequently, the following four charts refer to 2003 assault data, the most recent available.

Source: References 1 and 4

Location of assaults

Figure 13 : Assault, type of location, 2003

Figure 13

(a) Includes unspecified location (n=2838).

  • Recorded assaults occurred most frequently in residential private dwellings (39%).
  • Street/footpath locations accounted for 22% of recorded assaults in 2003.
  • Retail, recreational and other community locations each accounted for 9% of recorded assaults.
  • Recorded assaults were least likely to occur on transport and at residential locations other than private dwellings (both 4%).

Source: Reference 1

Victims of assault

Figure 14 : Age and gender of assault victims, rate per 100,000 persons, 2003

Figure 14

  • 58% of recorded assault victims were male.
  • Males had higher victimisation rates than females for all age categories.
  • Both males and females aged between 15 and 24 years had the highest rates of assault.

Source: References 1 and 2

Victim-offender relationship

Figure 15 : Assault victims, gender and relationship to offender, percentages, 2003 (a)

Figure 15

(a) Excludes Queensland and Western Australia (information not available). Also excludes the 9% of instances where the relationship between victim and offender was not stated or known in the remaining jurisdictions.

(b) Known other includes known non-family and known but not further defined, which may include some family members.

  • Where the relationship between victim and offender was stated, 81% of female victims of assault knew the offender, compared with 49% of male victims.
  • Assaults against females were more than twice as likely to be perpetrated by a family member than those against males.
  • In contrast, 51% of male victims were assaulted by strangers, compared with only 19% of female victims.

Source: Reference 1

Figure 16 : Assault victims, type of location and gender of victim, percentages, 2003

Figure 16

  • Most male victims (70%) were assaulted in non-residential locations, whereas the majority of female victims (58%) were assaulted in residential premises.

Source: Reference 5

Trend in assault

Figure 17 : Trend in assaults, by month, 1995-2003

Figure 17

  • The trend in assaults shows an average growth of 6% each year between 1995 and 2003. This is five times the annual growth of the Australian population over the same period.
  • Assault is seasonal. The number of assaults peaks in the spring and summer months of October to February, and is lowest from April through July.

Source: References 2 and 5

Sexual assault

The ABS defines sexual assault as 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.

As with assault, the ABS did not release data on recorded sexual assault for 2004. This section refers to recorded sexual assault in 2003, or time series ending in 2003.

Source: Reference 1

Location of sexual assaults

Figure 18 : Sexual assault, type of location, 2003

Figure 18

(a) Includes unspecified location (n=704).

  • Sexual assault was overwhelmingly likely to occur in the home environment. Of all sexual assaults recorded in Australia in 2003, 65% occurred in private dwellings.
  • Sexual assaults on streets/footpaths accounted for 7% of all recorded sexual assaults.
  • 3% occurred on transport and 9% at other community locations.
  • 5% of recorded sexual assaults took place at recreational locations and 3% at retail locations.

Source: Reference 1

Victims of sexual assault

82% of sexual assault victims in 2003 were female.

Source: Reference 1

Figure 19 : Age and gender of sexual assault victims, rate per 100,000 persons, 2003

Figure 19

  • The highest rate of sexual assault was reported by girls 10-14 years of age at 475 per 100,000 females in that age group.
  • For males, rates were highest for those under 10, at 90 per 100,000.
  • Females consistently recorded higher rates of sexual assault than males irrespective of age.
  • Boys made up 33% of sexual assault victims aged under 10 and 20% or less in older age groups.

Source: References 1 and 2

Victim-offender relationship

Figure 20 : Sexual assault victims, gender and relationship to offender, percentages, 2003 (a)

Figure 20

(a) Excludes Queensland and Western Australia (information not available). Also excludes 5% of recorded assaults where the relationship between victim and offender was not stated or known in the remaining jurisdictions.

(b) Known other includes known non-family and known not further defined and may include some family members.

  • Where the relationship between victim and offender was stated, most sexual assaults (78%) were committed by a person known to the victim.
  • Two in five sexual assaults were perpetrated by a family member. The figure is higher (47%) for male victims.
  • In 38% of sexual assaults the offender was a non-family member known to the victim.
  • 22% of sexual assaults were committed by strangers. Females were more likely than males to be sexually assaulted by strangers.

Source: Reference 1

Trend in sexual assault

Figure 21 : Trend in sexual assault victims, by month, 1995-2003

Figure 21

  • Reported sexual assaults have increased by an average 4% each year since 1995.
  • The number of recorded sexual assaults was typically highest during the months of January to March, and lowest during April to July. This seasonal pattern was not as clear in 2003.

Source: Reference 5

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 the use of a weapon. A weapon is any object used to cause fear or injury, and 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.

Of the 16,490 robberies recorded during 2004, 64% were unarmed robberies and 36% were committed with some type of weapon. This was similar to 2003 and 2002.

Source: Reference 1

Trend in robbery

Figure 22 : Number of robbery victims, by month, 1995-2004

Figure 22

  • Overall the number of robberies in 2004 was significantly lower than the number of robberies recorded in previous years. Compared with 16,490 in 2004, there were 19,709 robberies recorded in 2003, 20,989 in 2002 and 26,591 in 2001.
  • Since March 2001 the monthly number of robberies has decreased by 51%, or an average decline of 1% each month.
  • Between 1998 and 2004 there was a decrease in the proportion of robberies involving a weapon. In June 1998, 48% of all robberies were armed robberies, compared with 36% of robberies in 2004.
  • The number of both armed and unarmed robberies peaked in March 2001, at 1131 and 1558 respectively.
  • Armed and unarmed robberies follow similar monthly patterns.

Source: Reference 5

Figure 23 : Robbery, type of weapon, 2004

Figure 23

(a) Includes unspecified type of weapon (n=733).

  • Of robberies involving the use of weapons, a knife was the weapon most likely to be used. In 2004 knives were used in 18% of all robberies.
  • Robberies involving firearms made up 5% of total robberies in 2004.
  • A small percentage (2%) of robberies were carried out with the use of a syringe as a primary weapon.

Source: Reference 1

Armed robbery

There were 5993 armed robberies recorded during 2004. This represents a 16% decrease since 2003.

Figure 24 : Armed robbery, type of location, 2004

Figure 24

(a) Includes unspecified location (n=83).

  • Consistent with previous years, armed robberies in 2004 occurred most frequently in retail premises (43%).
  • A large proportion of armed robberies were also committed on streets/footpaths (26%).
  • Armed robberies were less likely to occur in residential (7%), transport (7%), recreational (7%) and other community (4%) locations.

Source: Reference 1

Figure 25 : Victims of armed robbery, 2004

Figure 25

  • 32% of armed robberies were committed against organisations, such as banks and chemists.
  • A person (male or female) was the victim of 67% of armed robberies. Victims of armed robbery were almost three times more likely to be male than female.

Source: References 1 and 5

Figure 26 : Age and gender of armed robbery victims, rate per 100,000 persons, 2004

Figure 26

  • In all age categories, males were at higher risk of being a victim of armed robbery than were females. The discrepancy between male and female rates was highest among those aged 15 to 24 and decreased with age.
  • Males aged 15-24 years were more than twice as likely to be a victim of armed robbery as males or females in any other age category. The rate for males aged 15-19 was 87 per 100,000 relevant population, while for males aged 20-24 it was 85 per 100,000.
  • Rates for females were highest among the 20-24 age group at 29 victims per 100,000 population.

Source: References 1 and 2

Unarmed robbery

There were 10,496 unarmed robberies recorded during 2004. This represents a 16% decrease from the number in 2003.

Figure 27 : Unarmed robbery, type of location, 2004

Figure 27

(a) Includes unspecified location (n=267).

  • In 2004 unarmed robberies were most likely to occur on the street/footpath (50% of all unarmed robberies).
  • 13% of unarmed robberies occurred in a retail location, compared with 43% of armed robberies.
  • 12% of unarmed robberies were carried out on transport.
  • Unarmed robberies were less likely at residential (7%), recreational (5%) and other community locations (8%).

Source: Reference 1

Figure 28 : Victims of unarmed robbery, 2004

Figure 28

  • Unarmed robberies were much less likely than armed robberies to target organisations. 7% of unarmed robberies involved organisations compared with 32% of armed robberies.
  • Males were almost twice as likely as females to be victims of unarmed robbery.

Source: Reference 5

Figure 29 : Age and gender of unarmed robbery victims, rate per 100,000 persons, 2004

Figure 29

  • The age-gender pattern of unarmed robbery is similar to the pattern for armed robbery.
  • Males aged 15 to 19 had the highest rates of unarmed robbery victimisation.

Source: References 1 and 2

Unlawful entry with intent

Unlawful entry with intent (UEWI) 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.

The rate of UEWI decreased from 2008 victims per 100,000 population in 2002 to 1782 in 2003, and to 1534 per 100,000 in 2004.

Source: References 1 and 2

Location of unlawful entry with intent

Figure 30 : Unlawful entry with intent, type of location, 2004

Figure 30

(a) Includes unspecified location (n=4541).

(b) Includes transport, the street/footpath and other community locations.

  • UEWI is most likely to take place in residential locations. 59% of UEWI offences occurred in private dwellings, and an additional 7% in other residential locations.
  • 12% of recorded UEWI offences took place in retail locations.
  • Only 8% of UEWI offences occurred at community locations, which include transport, the street/footpath and other community locations.
  • Less than half of one percent of UEWI took place in transport locations.

Source: Reference 1

Trend in unlawful entry with intent

Figure 31 : Trend in unlawful entries with intent, by month, 1995-2004

  • There has been an overall significant decline in the number of UEWI offences between 1995 and 2004.
  • The number of UEWI offences peaked at 42,451 incidents in January 2001.
  • UEWI incidents involving theft of property accounted for 73% of all UEWI offences in 2004, down from 78% in 1995.
  • There were approximately 36 recorded incidents of UEWI every hour in Australia in 2004, down from 40 every hour in 2003.

Source: Reference 5

Motor vehicle theft

Motor vehicle theft (MVT) is the taking of a motor vehicle unlawfully or without permission. It excludes damaging and tampering or interfering with motor vehicles. The theft of motor vehicle parts or contents is included under the offence category of other theft. Motor vehicle refers to cars, motorcycles, campervans and trucks.

There were 87,916 motor vehicles reported stolen to police in 2004, with 650 vehicles stolen per 100,000 registered vehicles. This represents an 11% decrease on the number recorded in 2003. On average, there was one MVT every six minutes in Australia in 2004.

Source: References 1 and 6

Location of motor vehicle theft

Figure 32 : Motor vehicle theft, type of location, 2004

Figure 32

(a) Includes unspecified location (n=4698).

(b) Includes private dwellings and other residential locations.

(c) Transport includes public car parks.

  • The majority of motor vehicle thefts occurred in community locations (54%), particularly streets/footpaths (38%) and transport locations (14%).
  • Retail locations accounted for 10% of motor vehicle thefts in 2004.
  • 26% of motor vehicle thefts occurred at a residential location.

Source: Reference 1

Trend in motor vehicle theft

Figure 33 : Number of motor vehicle thefts, by month, 1995-2004

Figure 33

  • In June 2004, motor vehicle theft decreased to the lowest level recorded since 1995 with 6657 motor vehicles stolen. In the period 1995-2004, the average recorded number of vehicles stolen per month was 10,167.
  • The incidence of recorded monthly motor vehicle theft peaked in March 2001, with 12,651 cars being recorded stolen in that month. Incidentally, robbery and UEWI also reached a maximum peak at that time.
  • Between March 2001 and December 2004 motor vehicle theft registered a 42% decrease. The overall decrease in the period 1995-2004 was 31%.

Source: Reference 5

Recovery rates

This section presents data on recovery rates of stolen vehicles from the National CARS (Comprehensive Auto-theft Research System) Project.

  • A total of 72,041 stolen cars were recovered in 2004, resulting in a national recovery rate of 77%.
  • 41% of all recovered motor vehicles are recovered within one day, 67% within two days and 82% within one week.

Source: Reference 7

Figure 34 : Percentage of stolen motor vehicles recovered, 2000-01 to 2004-05

Figure 34

  • The percentage of stolen vehicles that have been recovered decreased from 80% in 2000-01 to 75% in 2004-05.
  • Vehicles manufactured in the 1980s recorded a theft rate of 14 thefts per 1000 registrations compared with 4 thefts for 1990s models and 3 for 2000-03 models. Newer models are less likely to be stolen because engine immobilising technology makes their theft relatively more difficult.
  • In 2003-04, models manufactured from 2000 onwards recorded a recovery rate of 60% compared with 83% for 1980s models and 71% for 1990s models. Although significantly less likely to be stolen, newer models have a much lower recovery rate because they are more likely to be stolen for rebirthing and spare parts than older cars.

Source: Reference 7

Theft and recovery by vehicle type

Figure 35 : Theft and recovery by type of vehicle, rate per 1000 registrations, 2003-04

Figure 35

  • In 2003-04, motorcycles were more likely to be stolen than any other type of vehicle, with a theft rate of 15 per 1000 registrations.
  • Motorcycles were also least likely to be recovered, with only 28% of stolen motorcycles being recovered during the course of the year, compared with 82% of station wagons, 80% of sedans and 72% of trucks.
  • Vans and sedans were more likely to be stolen than station wagons, utilities or trucks.

Source: Reference 7

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 of all the crime categories included in the national statistics.

Source: Reference 1

Location of other theft

Figure 36 : Other theft, type of location, 2004

Figure 36

(a) Includes unspecified location (n=23,282).

  • Other theft was most likely to occur at retail locations (27% of all such thefts in 2004).
  • In 25% of cases, other theft occurred at residential locations, including 12% in private dwellings and 13% in other residential locations (which include yards, carports, garages and outbuildings associated with private dwellings).
  • 16% of thefts took place on the street or footpath.
  • Other theft was less likely in recreational (5%), other community (7%) and transport locations (10%).

Source: References 1 and 5

Trend in other theft

Figure 37 : Number of other thefts by month, 1995-2004

Figure 37

  • During 2004 there was an average of 45,650 victims of theft per month, or 62 per hour.
  • Since 2001 the number of other thefts has been decreasing. The monthly number of other thefts peaked in January 2001, at 61,786. Between then and December 2004 the monthly number of thefts decreased by 29%.

Source: Reference 5

Fraud and deception-related crime

As information about fraud and deception-related crime is not collected by the ABS, this section presents data extracted from information published by state and territory police agencies. The classifications of fraud and deception-related offences include cheque and credit card fraud, fraudulent trade practices, social security fraud, forgery, counterfeiting, bribery and other deception offences. Precise definitions may vary by state.

Fraud offences are recorded by the police on a financial year basis. Fraud is believed to be one of the most under-reported offences with less than 50% of incidents being reported to police or other authorities.

Table 5 : Number of recorded fraud offences, 1995-96 to 2003-04
1995-9691,495
1996-97101,256
1997-98109,404
1998-99112,209
1999-00112,264
2000-01106,141
2001-02109,080
2002-03108,940
2003-04102,863
  • The overall trend in fraud that has been reported to and recorded by police over the ten year period has been relatively stable.

Source: References 8-15

Drug arrests

This section provides an overview of arrest patterns for offenders between 1995-96 and 2003-04. Drug arrests usually come to the attention of police either through specific drug law enforcement activity or coincidently through an investigation into another matter, often related to property offences.

Arrest information is provided for the following types of drugs:

  • cannabis;
  • heroin (and other opioids);
  • amphetamines (including methylamphetamine);
  • cocaine; and
  • other drugs (hallucinogens, steroids and drugs not defined elsewhere).

Cannabis arrests include expiation notices, drug infringement notices, and simple cannabis offence notices.

Offenders involved in drug arrests are divided into two categories:

Consumers
persons charged with user-type offences (e.g. possessing or administering drugs for own personal use); and
Providers
persons charged with supply-type offences (e.g. importation, trafficking, selling, cultivation and manufacture).

In the case of a person being charged with consumer and provider offences, the provider charge takes precedence and the person is counted only as a provider of that drug.

Figure 38 : Number of drug arrests by type of drug, 1995-96 to 2003-04

Figure 38

(a) Other includes hallucinogens, steroids and other drugs (not defined elsewhere).

  • Since 1995-96, there has been an overall decline of 24% in the number of arrests for drug offences.
  • Arrests for cannabis offences declined by 28%.
  • A declining trend is evident in the number of arrests for heroin offences.
  • Arrests for amphetamines have almost doubled.
  • In 1995-96, 80% of drug arrests involved cannabis, compared with 76% in 2003-04.

Source: Reference 16

Figure 39 : Percentage of providers arrested for all drug arrests, by type of drug, 2003-04

Figure 39

(a) Other includes hallucinogens, steroids and other drugs (not defined elsewhere).

  • The majority of people arrested for drug offences for most drug types are consumers rather than providers. In 2003-04, cocaine was the only exception.
  • 80% of all arrests for drug offences in 2003-04 involved consumers, up from 75% in 1995-96.
  • In 2003-04, 53% of persons arrested for cocaine offences were providers, compared with 35% of arrests for heroin, 29% for amphetamine offences and 17% for cannabis offences.

Source: Reference 16

The gender breakdown for drug consumers is shown in Figure 40 and for providers in Figure 41.

Figure 40 : Drug consumers, number of arrests as a percentage of total drug arrests by gender and type of drug, 2003-04

Figure 40

(a) Other includes hallucinogens, steroids and other drugs (not defined elsewhere).

Figure 41 : Drug providers, number of arrests as a percentage of total drug arrests by gender and type of drug, 2003-04

Figure 41

(a) Other includes hallucinogens, steroids and other drugs (not defined elsewhere).

  • Males accounted for approximately 8 in 10 arrests of both consumer and provider offenders irrespective of drug type.

Source: Reference 16