Australian Institute of Criminology

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Crime victimisation

  • ISBN 978 1 921185 30 4 ; ISSN 1832-228X
  • Canberra: Australian Institute of Criminology, 2007

The majority of industrialised countries conduct crime victimisation surveys to estimate the extent of certain crimes and the percentage reported to the police. These data are used to supplement police statistics and are particularly useful for examining crimes that have low percentages of reporting to police, such as violent crime.

In Australia, there are various sources of crime victimisation data. The ABS conducts a national crime and safety survey on a regular basis, with the most recently released data from the 2005 survey. In addition, in 2005 the ABS conducted a personal safety survey which focused on men's and women's experiences of physical and sexual assault.

Sources:

  • Australian Bureau of Statistics 2006. Crime and safety, Australia 2005. ABS cat. no. 4509.0. Canberra: ABS
  • Australian Bureau of Statistics 2006. Personal safety survey, Australia 2005. ABS cat. no. 4906.0. Canberra: ABS

Percentages of criminal victimisation

The ABS crime and safety survey distinguishes between household and personal crime. Household crimes include those crimes in which the household (i.e. a group of persons resident in a private dwelling and sharing common facilities) is considered the victim of the crime. Such crimes include house break-in, attempted break-in and MVT. For personal crimes, it is the individual who is considered the victim of the crime. Personal crimes include robbery, assault and sexual assault.

Source:

  • Australian Bureau of Statistics 2006. Crime and safety, Australia 2005. ABS cat. no. 4509.0. Canberra: ABS

Household crime

Figure 41 : Households experiencing household crime in the previous year, 1993-2005 (percent)

Note: The scale for this chart is 0 to 50 as the percentages involved are relatively small

  • In 2005, 6% of households reported that they had experienced at least one crime within the past year, compared with 9% in 2002 and 1998, and 8% in 1993.
  • The most common household crime in all survey years was house break-in (3% in 2005, 5% in 1998 and 2002, and 4% in 1993).
  • In 2005 an estimated 3% of the households surveyed were affected by an attempted break-in in the previous year.
  • Approximately 1% of those surveyed in 2005 experienced MVT in the past year, down from 2% in previous survey years.

Source:

  • Australian Bureau of Statistics 2006. Crime and safety, Australia 2005. ABS cat. no. 4509.0. Canberra: ABS

Personal crime

Figure 42 : Persons aged 15 years and older experiencing personal crime in the previous year, 1998-2005 (percent)

Note: The scale for this chart is 0 to 50 as the percentages involved are relatively small

  • In 2005, 5% of persons surveyed were victims of personal crime in the preceding 12 months.
  • In all survey years, victimisation percentages were highest for the offence category of assault followed by robbery and sexual assault. This is consistent with recorded crime.
  • From 1998 to 2005 the percentage of persons reporting experiencing assault increased slightly, while robbery and sexual assault remained relatively stable.

Source:

  • Australian Bureau of Statistics 2006. Crime and safety, Australia 2005. ABS cat. no. 4509.0. Canberra: ABS

Figure 43 : Adults experiencing assault or sexual assault, 2005 (percent)

  • In the 12 months prior to the survey 3% of women experienced assault and 1% experienced sexual assault. For males, 7% experienced assault and less than 1% experienced sexual assault.
  • 41% of men reported experiencing an assault and 5% experienced a sexual assault since the age of 15.
  • 29% of women experienced assault and 17% experienced sexual assault since the age of 15.

Source:

  • Australian Bureau of Statistics 2006. Personal safety survey, Australia 2005. ABS cat. no. 4906.0. Canberra: ABS

Figure 44 : Adults experiencing sexual assault, relationship to offender, 2005 (percent)a

a: Most recent incident of sexual assault

b: Not available for publication for males due to very small numbers

c: Includes acquaintance, neighbour, counsellor or psychologist, ex-boyfriend or girlfriend, doctor, teacher, minister, priest or clergy, and prison officer

  • Of women who experienced sexual assault, in the most recent incident, 39% experienced sexual assault by a family member or friend, and 32% by an other known person.
  • Of the men who experienced sexual assault, 44% had experienced sexual assault by a family member or friend in the most recent incident, and 35% by an other known person.
  • Of those who experienced sexual assault, men were more likely than women to have experienced sexual assault by a stranger (33% compared with 22%).
  • Of women who experienced sexual assault, 21% percent experienced sexual assault by a previous partner.

Source:

  • Australian Bureau of Statistics 2006. Personal safety survey, Australia 2005. ABS cat. no. 4906.0. Canberra: ABS

Figure 45 : Experience of physical and sexual abuse before the age of 15, 2005 (percent)

  • Over one-third of women (36%) who experienced sexual assault from a partner in the preceding twelve months had also experienced sexual abuse as a child.
  • A similar proportion of men and women who had been sexually assaulted by a partner had been physically abused as a child (28% and 27% respectively).

Source:

  • Australian Bureau of Statistics 2006. Personal safety survey, Australia 2005. ABS cat. no. 4906.0. Canberra: ABS

Reporting crime to the police

Victimisation surveys are useful for assessing the extent of crime that is not reported to the police. Surveys find a wide variation in reporting percentages depending on the type of crime. The following figures show the estimated reporting percentages for different categories of offence from the ABS 2005 crime and safety survey.

Figure 46 : Selected crimes reported to police, 2005 (percent)

  • Thefts of motor vehicles are more likely to be reported to police than any other of the major categories of crime. 90% of households that experienced MVT reported the incident to police.
  • The reporting rate was also high for break-in, at 74%.
  • Victims of robbery (39%), attempted break-in (31%) and assault (31%) were less likely to report these crimes to police.

Source:

  • Australian Bureau of Statistics 2006. Crime and safety, Australia 2005. ABS cat. no. 4509.0. Canberra: ABS

The crime and safety survey asked respondents who chose not to report a crime to the police why they did not.

  • The main reasons respondents gave for not reporting robberies were that they thought there was nothing police could/would do (30%) or that the incident was too trivial/unimportant (18%).
  • Primary reasons given by victims for not reporting assault were that the incident was too trivial or unimportant (21%), it was a personal matter or that they would take care of it themselves (16%), or there was nothing police could do (9%).
  • The main reasons victims gave for not reporting a break-in were that they thought there was nothing police could do (8%) or that the incident was too trivial/unimportant (5%).

Source:

  • Australian Bureau of Statistics 2006. Crime and safety, Australia 2005. ABS cat. no. 4509.0. Canberra: ABS

Fear and perception of crime

Concerns about crime are generally more widespread than recent direct experiences of victimisation. Three dimensions of perceptions of personal safety and risk of victimisation were assessed by the ABS crime and safety and personal safety surveys. These were feelings of safety walking alone in the local area after dark; feelings of safety using public transportation after dark; and perceived problems in the neighbourhood.

Figure 47 : Feelings of safety walking alone in the local area after dark by gender, 2005 (percent)

  • Of those who did or could walk alone in their local area after dark, the majority (84%) of males felt safe. In contrast, less than half (42%) of females felt safe doing so.
  • Of this group, 44% of females compared with 7% of males chose not to walk alone in their local area after dark because they felt unsafe.

Source:

  • Australian Bureau of Statistics 2006. Personal safety survey, Australia 2005. ABS cat. no. 4906.0. Canberra: ABS

Figure 48 : Feelings of safety using public transport alone after dark, by gender, 2005 (percent)

  • Of those who did or could use public transport alone after dark, males were much more likely than females to report feeling safe (74% and 37% respectively), while females were more likely to feel unsafe (17% compared with 14% for males).
  • Of this group, 46% of females did not use public transport alone after dark because they felt unsafe, compared with 12% of males.

Source:

  • Australian Bureau of Statistics 2006. Personal safety survey, Australia 2005. ABS cat. no. 4906.0. Canberra: ABS

Figure 49 : Commonly perceived problems in neighbourhood, 2005 (percent)

HBT: House break-ins, burglaries or theft

VGD: Vandalism, graffiti or damage to property

DND: Dangerous or noisy driving

  • The most commonly perceived problem in respondents' neighbourhoods was house break-ins, burglaries or theft from homes (33% of respondents) followed by vandalism, graffiti or damage to property (25%) and car theft (17%).
  • 30% of respondents perceived there to be no problems in their neighbourhood.

Source:

  • Australian Bureau of Statistics 2006. Crime and safety, Australia 2005. ABS cat. no. 4509.0. Canberra: ABS

Cybercrime

As few police agencies identify cybercrimes separately, this section presents the results of Australian surveys of computer crime and security from 2003 to 2006, conducted by AusCERT, the Australian High Tech Crime Centre and state, territory and federal police agencies. The organisations surveyed represent the manufacturing, information technology, federal and state government, utilities, finance, and education sectors, and the number of organisations included differed from year to year. In 2003, 126 organisations responded to the survey, 137 in 2004, 100 in 2005 and 201 in 2006.

These data are not representative of all businesses. Caution should be taken therefore when generalising from the following data.

Source:

  • Australian Computer Emergency Response Team 2006. 2006 Australian computer crime and security survey. Brisbane: AusCERT

The proportion of surveyed organisations who reported experiencing electronic attacks that harmed the confidentiality, integrity or availability of network data or systems has decreased from 42% in 2003 to 22% in 2006. Almost half of organisations surveyed in 2004 reported at least one type of electronic attack.

Figure 50 : Most common computer crime and security breaches, 2003-06 (percent)

  • Virus/worm/trojan infections were the most common breach. In 2003 and 2004, around 80% of organisations experienced this type of breach but in 2005 and 2006 the proportion dropped to 60%.
  • The second most common breach was laptop theft.
  • Insider abuse of computer systems, the third most common type of breach, increased over the four year period, from 26% in 2003 to 32% in 2006.

Source:

  • Australian Computer Emergency Response Team 2006. 2006 Australian computer crime and security survey. Brisbane: AusCERT

Figure 51 : Major sources of financial loss due to computer crime and security breaches, 2003-06 ($ million)

  • The security breaches that consistently generated the highest cost to surveyed organisations between 2003 and 2006 were virus/worm/trojan infections, laptop theft and financial fraud.
  • The cost of virus/worm/trojan infections varied over the four year period, before dropping to $1.24 million in 2006. The large increase in 2004 was mostly due to costs reported by one company.
  • Costs associated with laptop theft showed similar fluctuation. In 2006, laptop theft accounted for an estimated cost of $2.27 million.
  • Self-reported financial fraud decreased from $3.53 million in 2003 to $0.94 million in 2005.

Source:

  • Australian Computer Emergency Response Team 2006. 2006 Australian computer crime and security survey. Brisbane: AusCERT