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Australian crime: Facts & figures 2009 is a quick reference guide summarising trends in crime and criminal justice in Australia. It includes information on different categories of crime, location, victim and offender details and the response of the criminal justice system.

For the first time, this edition of Australian crime: Facts & figures includes national data on offenders derived from the first Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) survey to include information on offender characteristics. This edition also contains data on financial instruments fraud provided by the Australian Payments Clearing Association.

Both administrative and survey-based collections serve as sources of data for Australian crime: Facts & figures. The data here are primarily national figures; where national data are not available other sources are used. Readers looking for additional information should consult the appropriate publications and websites included in the Reference section of this document.

The Australian Institute of Criminology (AIC) prepares publications, from fact sheets to detailed reports, on a wide range of more specific crime and justice issues. For further information visit the AIC website at or contact the AIC directly.


A number of findings in this year's Australian crime: Facts & figures are worthy of note:

  • Property crime, including theft of motor vehicles, remained the most commonly reported class of crime, with just over 800,000 incidents in 2008; although recorded crime data show that property crime offences continue to decline each year.
  • Victimisation survey data suggest that victims are much less likely to report experiencing a violent crime than they are a property crime. Assault was the most common violent crime, with 170,277 victims recorded in 2008; a small decrease from 2007.
  • The majority of offenders were male and the offending rate for persons aged 15 to 19 years was almost four times the rate of all other offenders in 2007–08.
  • Although the availability of national statistics on major crimes continues to improve, nationally-consistent data on offenders and emerging crimes, including cybercrime, remain unavailable. Furthermore, recording issues affecting particular crimes, such as assault and sexual assault, limit the ability to confidently identify real trends in these crimes over time.
  • Fines were the most common penalty issued by the courts. However, it should be noted that there was a 1.4 percent rise in prison numbers, with 27,615 persons in prison on 30 June 2008. The rate per 100,000 of adult males and females serving community correction orders decreased by 18 percent for adult males and 19 percent for adult females.
  • Australia's recurrent expenditure on the criminal justice system in 2007–08 was approximately $10 billion. A large part of government expenditure on criminal justice is for law enforcement; in 2007–08 there were 48,024 sworn state and territory police officers employed across the nation.

Adam Tomison
Australian Institute of Criminology