Australian Institute of Criminology

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Crime and justice statistics

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

Data on recorded crime as published by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) for the period 1996 to 2005 are presented in this first section. The information is based on crimes recorded by police from 1 January to 31 December each year. A victim can be a person, premises or a motor vehicle.

The ABS has been collecting and publishing data since 1996 on the following eight major categories of offences: homicide, assault, sexual assault, robbery, kidnapping, unlawful entry with intent (UEWI), motor vehicle theft (MVT), and other theft. It is estimated that these crimes account for about 60% of all crimes recorded by police.

The ABS has not released aggregated data on assault or sexual assault since 2003 due to inconsistent recording across jurisdictions. As trends within jurisdictions appear to be consistent, however, they have since released these data for each jurisdiction. The AIC used these data to compile the Australian totals for assault and sexual assault included in this chapter.

Source:

  • Australian Bureau of Statistics 2006. Recorded crime, victims, Australia 2005. ABS cat. no. 4510.0. Canberra: ABS

Number of recorded crimes

Violent crime

Violent crime includes homicide, assault, sexual assault, robbery and kidnapping (sometimes referred to as abduction). Although robbery may include an element of property crime, it is included as a violent crime, as the use or threat of violence is a more serious offence.

Table 1 : Victims of violent crimes, 1996-2005 (number)
HomicideAssaultSexual assaultRobberyKidnapping
1996354114,15614,54216,372478
1997364124,50014,35321,305564
1998332130,90314,33623,801707
1999386134,27114,10422,606766
2000363138,70815,75923,336695
2001346152,28316,89726,591767
2002365160,11817,97720,989706
2003341157,28018,23719,709696
2004293156,84918,40016,513768
2005295166,49918,17216,787730
  • Between 1996 and 2003 the number of homicides has fluctuated between 330 and 390 victims. In 2004 and 2005 the number of homicides dropped below 300.
  • A slight increase was reported in the number of robbery offences, from 16,513 in 2004 to 16,787 in 2005. The number of robbery offences in 2004 was the lowest recorded since 1996.
  • The number of recorded kidnappings fluctuates yearly. Over the period 1996-2004 the number of kidnappings registered a steady increase. However, between 2004 and 2005 it decreased slightly, from 768 to 730.
  • While the overall trend in recorded sexual assaults has shown a steady increase over the period 1996-2004, 2005 recorded a slight decrease on the previous year.
  • Assaults have continued to represent the majority of recorded violent crimes. The overall trend since 1996 has been upward, with an increase of 46% between 1996 and 2005. Between 2004 and 2005 recorded assault offences increased by 6%.

Source:

  • Australian Bureau of Statistics 2006. Recorded crime, victims, Australia 2005. ABS cat. no. 4510.0. Canberra: ABS

Figure 1 : Percentage change in victims of selected violent crimes, 2002-05

a: Robbery is classified as a violent crime as the use or threat of violence is more serious than the property theft

  • For violent crimes, the trend in the past three years has varied. Recorded homicide and robbery registered declines between 2002 and 2004, but increased slightly between 2004 and 2005.
  • Sexual assault and kidnapping increased between 2003 and 2004, but registered a decline in the following year.
  • Recorded assault changed little between 2003 and 2004 before increasing in 2005.
  • Variability from year to year is generally more pronounced for offences that have a smaller number of victims, such as homicide.

Property crime

Property crime comprises UEWI (also referred to as break and enter or burglary), MVT, and other theft. Other theft includes offences such as pickpocketing, bag snatching, shoplifting and bicycle theft.

Table 2 : Victims of property crimes, 1996-2005 (number)
UEWIMVTOther theft
1996402,079122,914521,762
1997421,569130,138530,881
1998434,376131,587563,482
1999415,735129,552612,559
2000436,968138,912681,268
2001435,754139,894700,137
2002394,323113,460680,799
2003354,02098,298624,036
2004308,67587,939548,778
2005284,18880,738519,128
  • As in previous years, other theft was the most commonly recorded property crime in 2005, accounting for 59% of property crime victims.
  • The number of recorded victims of other theft increased steadily until 2001, but since then has been decreasing. The total decline between 2001 and 2005 was 26%.
  • In 2005 there were 284,188 recorded victims of an UEWI, a decline of 8% from the previous year and the lowest rate recorded since 1996.
  • The number of MVT victims increased by 24% between 1996 and 2001 but decreased by 42% between 2001 and 2005.

Source:

  • Australian Bureau of Statistics 2006. Recorded crime, victims, Australia 2005. ABS cat. no. 4510.0. Canberra: ABS

Figure 2 : Percentage change in victims of selected property crimes, 2002-05

The overall trend in property crime offences in the past four years has been one of decline.

Source:

  • Australian Bureau of Statistics 2006. Recorded crime, victims, Australia 2005. ABS cat. no. 4510.0. Canberra: ABS

Recorded crime rates

Trends in the number of recorded crime victims do not take into account increases in the population over time. As a result an increase may reflect an increase in the general population over that time period rather than an increase in the actual likelihood of a person becoming a victim of crime. Crime rates adjust for changes in population size and in this section are calculated for every 100,000 persons in the population.

Violent crime rate

Figure 3 : Violent crimes, 1996-2005 (rate per 100,000 persons)

Note : Homicide and kidnapping occur at rates of less than 5 per 100,000 each, and are difficult to distinguish on this chart

  • The trend in the rate of recorded assault has shown a steady increase from 1996 to 2005. The rate in 2005 was 819 per 100,000 compared with 623 per 100,000 in 1996. The 2005 rate was the highest recorded since 1996.
  • The rate for robbery peaked at 137 per 100,000 in 2001, the highest recorded since 1996. Since 2001 the rate has declined, to 83 per 100,000 in 2005.
  • The rate of kidnapping was subject to substantial fluctuation between 1996 and 2005. In 2005 it stood at 3.6 per 100,000 persons.
  • The homicide rate was 1.9 in 1996 (which includes the 35 victims of the Port Arthur shootings) and was at its highest in 1999 at 2.0 per 100,000 before dropping to 1.5 in 2005.
  • The trend in the rate of recorded sexual assault has displayed a steady and significant increase between 1996 and 2005. However, between 2004 and 2005 the rate declined slightly (from 92 to 89 per 100,000).

Sources:

  • Australian Bureau of Statistics 2006. Recorded crime, victims, Australia 2005. ABS cat. no. 4510.0. Canberra: ABS
  • Australian Bureau of Statistics 2002-2005. Population by age and sex, Australian states and territories (various issues). ABS cat. no. 3201.0. Canberra: ABS

Property crime rate

Figure 4 : Property crimes, 1996-2005 (rate per 100,000 persons)

  • The rate of other theft, the largest category of recorded property crime, increased between 1996 and 2001, and has declined thereafter.
  • The rate of UEWI remained relatively stable from 1996 to 2001 and has declined since then.
  • The rate of MVT declined by 41% between 1996 and 2005, from 671 to 397 per 100,000. This decline largely occurred from 2001 onwards.

Sources:

  • Australian Bureau of Statistics 2006. Recorded crime, victims, Australia 2005. ABS cat. no. 4510.0. Canberra: ABS
  • Australian Bureau of Statistics 2002-2005. Population by age and sex, Australian states and territories (various issues). ABS cat. no. 3201.0. Canberra: ABS

Location of crime

The ABS classifies crime locations according to the function of the site where a criminal incident occurred. There are three broad locations:

  • residential (including houses, garages/carports, motels and hostels)
  • community (including car parks, transport facilities, street/footpaths and schools)
  • other (including retail premises, recreational facilities, government offices and warehousing/storage).

Table 3 shows the number of selected violent offences that occurred within each type of location.

Table 3 : Selected violent crimes by type of location, 2005 (number)
MurderRobberyKidnapping
a: Includes non-private dwellings, dwellings not further defined, and land and other structures (for example, driveways) that lie within the curtilage of a residential location
b: Total includes not further defined
Residential
Private dwelling1651,091176
Other residential a5995
Total residential b1741,206181
Community
Transport31,54840
Street/footpath287,349295
Other community34924109
Total community b729,856444
Other
Retail73,92739
Recreational1098344
Other location54225
Total other b225,36888
Unspecified location335717
Total27116,787730
  • The majority of murders (64%, n=174) occurred in a residential location, while most robberies (91%, n=15,224) occurred outside the home.
  • In 2005, 44% (n=7,349) of robberies and 40% (n=295) of kidnappings occurred on streets or footpaths, compared with 10% (n=28) of murders.
  • According to data released in previous years assault was likely to occur in both community and residential locations, while sexual assault was overwhelmingly likely to occur in residential locations.

Source:

  • Australian Bureau of Statistics 2006. Recorded crime, victims, Australia 2005. ABS cat. no. 4510.0. Canberra: ABS

Figure 5 : Selected violent crimes by type of location, 2000-05 (number)

  • Between 2000 and 2005, violent crimes (murder, robbery and kidnapping) declined in all categories of location, although the decrease was not uniform across all location types.
  • Violent crimes carried out at transport and retail locations declined the most, by 44% and 36%, respectively.
  • Violent crimes which occurred at recreational locations, the street/footpath and residential dwellings decreased by 25%, 12% and 11%, respectively, between 2000 and 2005.

Table 4 shows the number of property offences (UEWI, MVT and other theft) that occurred within each type of location.

Table 4 : Property crimes by type of location, 2005 (number)
UEWIMVTOther theft
a: Includes non-private dwellings, dwellings not further defined, and land and other structures (for example, driveways) that lie within the curtilage of a residential location
b: Total includes not further defined
Residential
Private dwelling167,725-61,330
Other residential a16,40422,30564,395
Total residential b186,56422,350128,373
Community
Transport1,05410,48548,449
Street/footpath430,41981,205
Other community19,9591,64430,338
Total community b21,69042,612161,254
Other
Retail34,6838,103148,219
Recreational7,8631,17628,385
Other location27,3842,09428,536
Total other b71,59911,876207,261
Unspecified location4,3353,90022,240
Total284,18880,738519,128
  • MVT was more likely to occur in a public location (67%, n=54,488) than in or around a private dwelling (28%, n=22,350).
  • The majority of UEWI crimes (65%, n=186,564) occurred in a residential location, and 12% (n=34,683) occurred in a retail location.
  • 31% (n=161,254) of other thefts occurred in a community location and 29% (n=148,219) in a retail location.

Source:

  • Australian Bureau of Statistics 2006. Recorded crime, victims, Australia 2005. ABS cat. no. 4510.0. Canberra: ABS

Figure 6: Property crimes by type of location, 2005

a: Includes unspecified location (n=30,475)

  • Property offences were most likely to occur at a private dwelling (26%), at a retail location (22%), or on the street/footpath (13%).
  • Property offences were comparatively less likely to occur at recreational locations (4%) or on transport (7%).

Source:

  • Australian Bureau of Statistics 2006. Recorded crime, victims, Australia 2005. ABS cat. no. 4510.0. Canberra: ABS

Figure 7 : Property crimes by type of location, 2000-05 (number)

  • Between 2000 and 2005 the number of property crimes carried out on transport, on the street/footpath, or in a recreational location declined the most, by 36%, 36% and 43%, respectively.
  • Property crimes at residential locations declined by 28% and at retail locations by 18% between 2000 and 2005.

Source:

  • Australian Bureau of Statistics 2006. Recorded crime, victims, Australia 2005. ABS cat. no. 4510.0. Canberra: ABS