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Crime victimisation

It should be noted that the data contained in this chapter has been reported in previous editions of Australian crime: Facts & figures. In the absence of updates to this data being available for future publications, 2008–09 is the last edition that will contain this reporting.

The majority of industrialised countries conduct crime victimisation surveys to estimate the frequency of certain crimes and the proportion 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 sexual assault.

The method developed for crime victimisation surveys has been extended to address crimes of specific interest. One example used here is the 2007 ABS Personal Fraud Survey, which measures rates of victimisation through various types of personal fraud, including credit card fraud, identity fraud and scams.

In addition, in 2005, the ABS conducted the Personal Safety Survey that focused on men's and women's experiences of physical and sexual assault.

Source: References 17–19

Household and personal victimisation

The CSS distinguishes between household and personal crime. Household crimes include those in which the household (a group of persons resident in a private dwelling and sharing common facilities) is considered the victim of the crime. This

includes home break-in, attempted break-in and motor vehicle theft. For personal crimes, it is the individual who is considered the victim of the crime. Personal crimes include robbery, assault and sexual assault.

Source: Reference 17

Figure 40: Households experiencing household crime in the previous 12 months, 1993–2005 (%)

Figure 40 Households experiencing household crime in the previous 12 months, 1993–2005

  • In 2005, six percent of households surveyed had been victims of household crime in the preceding 12 months.
  • The number of households reporting a recent experience of household crime decreased from eight percent in 1993 to six percent in 2005, representing a 25 percent decline.
  • For all years reviewed, break-in was the most common household crime reported by survey respondents (3.3% in 2005, 4.7% in 2002, 5% in 1998 and 4.4% in 1993); MVT was the least common (2% in 1993, 1998, 2002 and 1% in 2005).
  • A smaller percentage of households experienced attempted break-ins, compared with actual break-ins, in the years under review.

Source: Reference 17

Figure 41: Persons aged 15 years and over who experienced personal crime in the previous 12 months, 1998–2005 (%)

Figure 41 Persons aged 15 years and over who experienced personal crime in the previous 12 months, 1998–2005

  • In 2005, five percent of persons surveyed reported an experience of personal crime in the preceding 12 months.
  • The majority of personal crime victims had experienced an assault (4.3% in 1998 and 4.7% in 2002 and 4.8% in 2005 of all persons surveyed). Fewer than one percent of respondents reported being the victim of a robbery or sexual assault.
  • From 1998 to 2005, the percentage of persons reporting a recent experience of assault increased by 12 percent, while robbery and sexual assault declined by 20 percent and 25 percent during the same period.

Source: Reference 17

Figure 42: Experience of repeat victimisation for selected crimes in the 12 months preceding 2005 survey, by crime type (%)

Figure 42 Experience of repeat victimisation for selected crimes in the 12 months

  • Of persons assaulted in the 12 months preceding the survey, 48 percent had experienced one incident of assault, 19 percent, two incidents and 33 percent, three or more incidents.
  • Sixty-eight percent of victims of robbery had experienced one incident of robbery, 19 percent, two incidents and 14 percent, three or more incidents.
  • The majority (80%) of victims of house break-ins reported just one incident of break-in in the previous 12 months, 14 percent experienced two incidents and six percent reported three or more incidents.

Source: Reference 17

Figure 43: Adults experiencing assault or sexual assault in previous 12 months and since age of 15 years (%)

Figure 43 Adults experiencing assault or sexual assault in previous 12 months and

  • In the 12 months prior to the survey, seven percent of men experienced assault and less than one percent experienced sexual assault. Among women, three percent experienced assault and one percent experienced sexual assault.
  • Forty-one percent of men and 29 percent of women had reported having experienced an assault since the age of 15 years.
  • Seventeen percent of women and five percent of men had reported experiencing a sexual assault since the age of 15 years.
  • Overall, almost half (46%) of men and women reported having experienced an assault and/or sexual assault since the age of 15 years.

Source: Reference 18

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, depending on the type of crime. Figure 44 shows the estimated reporting percentages of categories of offence reported in the 2005 Crime and Safety Survey.

Source: Reference 17

Figure 44: Rate of reporting to police of selected crimes, 2005 (%)

Figure 44 Rate of reporting to police of selected crimes, 2005

  • Motor vehicle thefts (90%), followed by home break-ins (74%), were reported more often to police than other major categories of crime.
  • Robbery (39%), attempted break-in (31%) and assault (31%) were less likely to be reported by victims to the police.

Source: Reference 17

Personal fraud

The ABS Personal Fraud Survey (Reference 19) provides an estimate of the number of Australians exposed to scams or attempts at personal fraud, the proportion falling victim to them and the financial losses incurred. Respondents to the survey were interviewed about their experience of personal fraud, specifically incidents of:

  • credit card fraud—the unauthorised use of a credit or bank card;
  • identity theft—the theft and fraudulent use of personal details or personal documents; and
  • scams—a fraudulent invitation, request or offer whereby a person's personal information and/or money are obtained using deceptive means.

An estimated 806,000 Australians aged 15 years and over were the victim of one or more incidents of personal fraud in the 12 months preceding the survey interview.

Figure 45: Victims of personal fraud, 2007, by sex and fraud type (% of that sex)

Figure 45 Victims of personal fraud, 2007, by sex and fraud type

a: Includes lotteries, pyramid schemes, phishing, financial advice, chain letters, advance-fee fraud and other

  • Males and females experienced similar rates of victimisation from personal fraud in the previous 12 months.
  • Three percent of males and two percent of females reported being the victim of at least one incident of credit card fraud, two percent each of scams and one percent each of identity theft.

Source: Reference 19

Figure 46: Victims of personal fraud, 2007, by age in years (% of that age group)

Figure 46 Victims of personal fraud, 2007, by age in years

  • Persons aged between 25 to 34 years and 35 to 44 years reported the highest victimisation rates (4.2% and 4.3% respectively) closely followed by individuals aged 45 to 54 years (3.9%).
  • Personal fraud victimisation of those aged 15 to 24 years and 55 years and over was half that of those aged 25 to 44 years of age.

Source: Reference 19