Australian Institute of Criminology

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Selected crime profiles

  • ISBN 978 1 921185 68 7 ; ISSN 1832-228X
  • Canberra: Australian Institute of Criminology, 2008

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
  • manslaughter: the unlawful killing of a person:
    • 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 take into account the final outcome of the court case.

    Homicide 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 AIC through the National Homicide Monitoring Program. The ABS reports on a calendar year and the AIC on a financial year basis.

    Data on the use of firearms in homicide are derived from victim data collected in the National Homicide Monitoring Program. Previous editions of Facts and figures used ABS causes of death data, but coding procedures used since 2004 (related to an increase in the number of open coroners' cases) have resulted in an undercounting of firearm deaths due to assault (i.e. homicide).

    There were 319 homicides in Australia in 2006, with 1.5 victims per 100,000 population. Murder accounted for 88% of the victims recorded in 2006. The remainder were victims of manslaughter.

    Source: References 1 and 3

    Location of homicides

    Figure 8 : Homicide by type of location, 2006

    a: Includes unspecified location (n=6)

    • The majority of homicides take place in the home (63%).
    • The street/footpath was the second most common location where homicides occurred (13%).
    • Homicides were least likely to occur at recreational, retail and transport locations (all 3%).

    Source: Reference 1

    Victims of homicide

    Figure 9 : Age and gender of homicide victims, 2006 (rate per 100,000 relevant persons)

    • 67% of homicide victims in 2006 were male.
    • Except for persons aged 65 years and older, the risk of being a victim of homicide was higher for males than for females.
    • Similar to past years, males in the 25 to 44 age group were most at risk of being a homicide victim in 2006.
    • There were no victims of homicide aged between 10 and 14 years in 2006.

    Source: References 1 and 2

    Victim-offender relationship

    Figure 10 : Homicide victims, relationship to offender, 2005-06 (percent)

    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 in 2005-06 were more likely than female victims to be killed by a friend or acquaintance (38% and 16%, respectively) whereas female victims were more likely than male victims to be killed by an intimate partner (48% and 7%, respectively).
    • Female victims were slightly more likely than male victims to have been killed by a family member (21% and 16% respectively).
    • 11% of female victims were killed by a person unknown to them, a 9% increase from 2004-05. However, this is still noticeably less than the percentage of male victims killed by a stranger (33%).

    Source: Reference 3

    Figure 11 : Homicide, type of weapon, 2005-06

    • In 2005-06 the most common weapon used in homicide was a knife (33%).
    • A further 18% of homicides were committed using physical force (hands/feet), and 14% each with firearms or with blunt instruments.

    Source: Reference 3

    Trend in homicide

    Figure 12 : Homicide victims, 1993-2006 (number)

    • The number of murders fluctuated slightly between 1993 and 2006, while manslaughter remained relatively stable.
    • The number of murders peaked in 1999 at 344, while the number of manslaughters peaked in 2002 at 48.
    • The 263 murders recorded in 2004 was the lowest number recorded in any year since 1993.
    • The number of victims of manslaughter recorded in 2005 (25) was lower than in any year since 1993. However, 2006 saw an increase in manslaughters to 38.

    Source: Reference 1

    Trend in firearm homicides

    Figure 13 : Homicides involving firearms as a percentage of total homicides, 1989-90 to 2005-06

    • On average, 21% of homicide victims were killed with a firearm between 1989-90 and 2005-06.
    • However, the use of firearms in homicide has decreased over the past 16 years, dropping below 20% from 2001-02 onwards.
    • 14% of homicide victims in 2006 were killed with a firearm.

    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 data for New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia have been aggregated for the following charts on location, and gender and age of victims. These states represent 94% of all assaults recorded in 2006. ABS has not released data on the victim-offender relationship since 2003, so the figure below refers to that year.

    Source: Reference 1

    Location of assaults

    Figure 14 : Assault, type of location, 2006

    a: Includes unspecified location (n=865)

    • Recorded assaults occurred most frequently in dwellings (42%), then on streets or footpaths (23%).
    • Retail and recreational locations accounted for 13% and 6% respectively of recorded assaults.
    • Recorded assaults were least likely to occur on transport (4%) and at other residential locations (3%).

    Source: Reference 1

    Victims of assault

    Figure 15 : Age and gender of assault victims, 2006 (rate per 100,000 relevant persons)

    • 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

    Assault victim-offender relationship

    Figure 16 : Assault victims, relationship to offender, 2003 (percent)a

    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 not 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 as those against males.
    • Male victims were much more likely to have been assaulted by a stranger (51%) than female victims (19%).

    Source: Reference 1

    Figure 17 : Assault victims, type of location, 2003 (percent)(a)

    a: ABS has not released state-based data on location broken down by gender since 2003

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

    Source: Reference 4

    Trend in assault

    Figure 18 : Assaults, by month, 1995-2006 (number)

    • The trend in assaults shows an average growth of 5% each year between 1995 and 2006. This is four 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 during April to July.

    Source: Reference 4

    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
    • gives consent as a result of intimidation or fraud
    • 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, sexual assault data for 2006 have been aggregated using ABS data from New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia and included in charts regarding details of location, and gender and age of victim. These states represent 95% of all sexual assaults recorded in 2006. The chart on victim-offender relationship refers to 2003 sexual assault data, the most recent available for this variable.

    Source: Reference 1

    Location of sexual assaults

    Figure 19 : Sexual assault, type of location, 2006

    a: Includes unspecified location (n=633)

    • Sexual assault was most likely to occur in the home environment. Of sexual assaults recorded in 2006, 66% occurred in dwellings.
    • Sexual assaults on streets/footpaths and in recreational locations accounted for 6% each.
    • Sexual assault was least likely to occur at retail locations (4%) or on transport (3%).

    Source: Reference 1

    Victims of sexual assault

    Figure 20 : Age and gender of sexual assault victims, 2006 (rate per 100,000 relevant persons)

    • 84% of sexual assault victims in 2006 were female.
    • The highest rate of sexual assault was recorded for females 10-14 years of age at 544 per 100,000 females in that age group.
    • For males, rates were also highest for those aged 10-14 (95 per 100,000 relevant persons) and less than 10 (78 per 100,000 relevant persons).
    • Boys made up 32% of sexual assault victims aged less than 10 years.

    Source: References 1 and 2

    Victim-offender relationship

    Figure 21 : Sexual assault victims, relationship to offender, 2003 (percent)(a)

    a: Excludes Queensland and Western Australia (information not available). Also excludes the 5% of recorded assaults where the relationship between victim and offender was not stated or not 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 assault victims had some form of relationship with the offender (78%).
    • 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.
    • Females (23%) were more likely than males (15%) to be sexually assaulted by strangers.

    Source: Reference 1

    Trend in sexual assault

    Figure 22 : Sexual assault victims, by month, 1995-2006

    • Reported sexual assaults have increased by an average of 4% each year since 1995.
    • The number of recorded sexual assaults is typically highest during the months of January to March and August to November and lowest during April to July.

    Source: Reference 4

    Robbery

    Robbery is defined by the ABS as 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 two categories:

    • armed robbery - 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 - robbery conducted without the use of a weapon.

    Of the 17,284 robberies recorded during 2006, 56% were unarmed and 44% were committed with some type of weapon. This represents an increase in the percentage of armed robberies, compared with the previous four years.

    Source: Reference 1

    Trend in robbery

    Figure 23 : Robbery victims, by month, 1995-2006 (number)

    • Robberies in 2006 rose to 17,284 from 16,787 in 2005. However, there are still fewer robberies occurring than in the early 2000s.
    • Unlike previous years, the proportion of robberies involving a weapon increased in 2006. In 2005, 37% of all robberies were armed; in 2006 it was 44%.
    • The number of both armed and unarmed robberies peaked in March 2001. Armed and unarmed robberies follow similar monthly patterns.

    Source: Reference 4

    Figure 24 : Robbery, type of location, 2006

    a: Includes unspecified location (n=111)

    • Robberies in 2006 predominantly occurred on streets/footpaths (46%) or retail locations (24%).
    • Robberies were less likely to occur on transport (8%), or in residential (8%), recreational (8%) or other community (4%) locations.

    Source: Reference 1

    Figure 25 : Age and gender of robbery victims, 2006 (rate per 100,000 relevant persons)

    • In all age categories, males were at higher risk than females of being a victim of robbery. In 2006, the discrepancy between male and female rates was highest in those aged 15 to 19 and decreased with age.
    • Males aged 15-19 years were more than twice as likely to be a victim of robbery as males or females in any other age group. The rate for males aged 15-19 was 408 per 100,000, compared with 80 per 100,000 for males aged 35-44.
    • Rates for females were highest among the 20-24 age group at 106 per 100,000, and next highest among those aged 15-19, at 84 per 100,000.

    Source: References 1 and 2

    Armed robbery

    There were 7,525 armed robberies recorded during 2006. This represents a 21% increase since 2005.

    Figure 26 : Armed robbery victims, 2006

    • 27% of armed robberies were committed against organisations, such as banks and chemists.
    • A person (male or female) was the victim of 73% of armed robberies. Victims of armed robbery were almost three and a half times more likely to be male than female.

    Source: References 1 and 4

    Figure 27 : Armed robbery, type of weapon, 2006

    a: Includes 'chemical' weapon (n=11) and unspecified type of weapon(n=504)

    • A knife was most likely to be used in robberies involving the use of weapons. In 2006 knives were used in 49% of all armed robberies.
    • Armed robberies involving firearms made up 16% of all such robberies in 2006.
    • A small percentage of armed robberies were carried out with the use of a syringe (3%) or bat/bar/club (8%) as the primary weapon.

    Source: Reference 1

    Unarmed robbery

    There were 9,759 unarmed robberies recorded during 2006, 8% fewer than in 2005.

    Figure 28 : Unarmed robbery victims, 2006

    • Unarmed robberies were much less likely than armed robberies to target organisations. 5% of unarmed robberies involved organisations, compared with 27% of armed robberies.
    • Males were more than twice as likely as females to be victims of unarmed robbery.

    Source: References 1 and 4

    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 in 2006 was 1,271 per 100,000.

    Source: References 1 and 2

    Location of unlawful entry with intent

    Figure 29 : UEWI, type of location, 2006

    a: Includes unspecified location (n=3,427)

    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 dwellings in 2006 and an additional 7% in outbuildings and other residential locations.
    • 12% of recorded UEWI offences took place in retail locations and 8% occurred in community locations.
    • Less than half of one percent of UEWI took place in transport locations (0.3%).

    Source: Reference 1

    Trend in unlawful entry with intent

    Figure 30 : UEWI, by month, 1995-2006 (number)

    • There was an overall decline in the number of UEWI offences between 1995 and 2006.
    • There were approximately 30 recorded incidents of UEWI every hour in Australia in 2006.

    Source: Reference 4

    Motor vehicle theft

    • Motor vehicle theft 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, trucks, buses and plant/equipment.
    • There were 75,115 motor vehicles reported stolen to police in 2006, with 523 vehicles stolen per 100,000 registered vehicles. This represents a 7% decrease on the number of thefts recorded in 2005. On average, there was one MVT every seven minutes in Australia in 2006.

    Source: References 1 and 5

    Location of motor vehicle theft

    Figure 31 : Motor vehicle theft, type of location, 2006

    a: Includes unspecified location (n=1,218)

    b: Includes dwellings and other residential locations

    c: Transport includes public car parks

    • The majority of motor vehicle thefts occurred on the street/footpath (37%) or in some sort of residential location (34%).
    • Only 8% of motor vehicle thefts occurred in what are classified as transport locations, such as car parks.

    Source: Reference 1

    Trend in motor vehicle theft

    Figure 32 : Motor vehicle theft, by month, 1995-2006 (number)

    • In February 2006, motor vehicle theft decreased to the lowest monthly level recorded since 1995 with 5,890 motor vehicles reported stolen.
    • The incidence of recorded monthly motor vehicle theft peaked in March 2001, with 12,651 cars recorded stolen in that month.
    • Between March 2001 and December 2006 motor vehicle theft registered a 51% decrease. The overall decrease in the period 1995-2006 was 41%.
    • Friday and Saturday evenings are the most popular periods for theft.
    • In the period 1995-2006, the average recorded number of vehicles stolen per month was 9,621.

    Source: Reference 4

    Recovery rates

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

    • In 2005-06 the national recovery rate for stolen vehicles was 75%, with 56,043 stolen vehicles recovered in that period.
    • 47% of stolen vehicles were recovered within 25 hours of theft, and 87% of recoveries occurred within a fortnight.

    Source: Reference 6

    Figure 33 : Stolen motor vehicles recovered, 2000-01 to 2005-06 (percent)

    • The percentage of stolen vehicles that have been recovered decreased from 80% in 2000-01 to 75% in 2005-06.
    • Vehicles manufactured in the 1980s recorded a theft rate of 12.6 thefts per 1,000 registrations compared with 4.3 thefts for 1990s models and 2.4 for 2000-05 models. Newer models are less likely to be stolen because engine immobilising technology makes their theft more difficult.
    • In 2005-06, models manufactured from 2000 onwards recorded a recovery rate of 64% compared with 82% for 1980s models and 73% for 1990s models. Newer models have a lower recovery rate because they are more likely to be stolen for rebirthing and spare parts than older cars.

    Source: Reference 6

    Theft and recovery by vehicle type

    Figure 34 : Theft and recovery by type of vehicle, 2005-06 (rate per 1,000 registrations)

    • As in previous years, motorcycles were more likely to be stolen than any other type of vehicle, with a theft rate of 14 per 1,000 registrations.
    • Panel/vans were the next most commonly stolen vehicle, at 7 per 1,000 registrations.
    • Motorcycles were least likely to be recovered, with only 33% of stolen motorcycles being recovered. Other vehicle types had a much higher recovery rate such as 82% for station wagons, 80% for buses and 79% for sedans.

    Source: Reference 6

    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 (including shoplifting), 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 35 : Other theft, type of location, 2006

    a: Includes unspecified location (n=11,182)

    • Other theft was most likely to occur at retail locations (31%).
    • 11% of other theft occurred at dwellings and 16% in outbuildings and other residential locations.
    • Other theft was less likely at transport (7%), other community (6%) and recreational (5%) locations.

    Source: Reference 1

    Trend in other theft

    Figure 36 : Other thefts by month, 1995-2006 (number)

    • During 2006 there was an average of 43,214 victims of theft per month, or almost one every minute.
    • 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 2006 the monthly number of thefts decreased by 32%.

    Source: Reference 4

    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 : Fraud offences, 1995-96 to 2005-06 (number)
    Year Number
    1995-96 91,495
    1996-97 101,256
    1997-98 109,404
    1998-99 112,209
    1999-00 112,264
    2000-01 106,141
    2001-02 109,080
    2002-03 108,940
    2003-04 102,863
    2004-05 89,198
    2005-06 101,222
    • The overall trend in fraud, reported to and recorded by police over the twelve year period, has been relatively stable. The lowest number of fraud offences occurred in 2004-05.

    Source: References 7-14

    Drug arrests

    This section provides an overview of arrest patterns for offenders between 1995-96 and 2005-06. 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 and phenethylamines)
    • cocaine
    • 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)
    • 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 37 : Drug arrests by type of drug, 1995-96 to 2005-06 (number)

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

    • Since 1995-96, there has been an overall decline of 21% in the number of arrests for drug offences.
    • Arrests for cannabis and heroin have both declined over this time period, by 30% and 68% respectively.
    • Arrests for amphetamines have more than doubled, increasing by 181% since 1995-96.
    • In 1995-96, 80% of drug arrests involved cannabis, compared with 71% in 2005-06.

    Source: Reference 15

    Figure 38 : Drug arrests, consumers and providers, by type of drug, 2005-06 (percent)

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

    • As in previous years, consumers (81%) comprised the majority of drug arrests in 2005-06.
    • 39% of persons arrested for cocaine offences were providers, 35% for heroin, 31% for amphetamine and 15% for cannabis offences.

    Source: Reference 15

    Figure 39 : Drug consumers, by gender and type of drug, 2005-06 (percent)

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

    Figure 40 : Drug providers, by gender and type of drug, 2005-06 (percent)

    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 regardless of drug type.

    Source: Reference 15