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Chapter 1: Recorded crime

Data on recorded crime as published by the ABS for the period 1996 to 2011 are presented in this first chapter. The information is based on police records of crimes from 1 January to 31 December each year. A victim of crime 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 (murder and manslaughter), 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 percent of all crimes recorded by police.

Due to inconsistencies among jurisdictions in recording, the ABS has not released aggregated data on assault since 2003. As trends within jurisdictions appear to be consistent, however, the data for each jurisdiction have been released. The AIC used these data to compile the Australian totals for assault included in this chapter. It is important to note that due to changes in the way the ABS have collected the data, the 2011 assault figure does not include information from Victoria, Queensland or Tasmania and is significantly lower than the expected national figure. Therefore, the 2011 assault figure should not be compared with previous years.

Caution must be exercised when comparing the number of robbery victims from different years due to an undercounting of victims in New South Wales prior to 2005. Similarly affected are data on the number of victims of UEWI prior to 2006 because of an overstatement of victims in New South Wales. General trends, however, appear not to be affected.

Source: Reference 1

Number of recorded victims of crime

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 than the theft.

Table 1 Victims of selected violent crimes, 1996–2011 (n)
Homicidea Assaultb Sexual assault Robberyc Kidnapping/abduction
1996 354 114,156 14,542 16,372 478
1997 364 124,500 14,353 21,305 564
1998 334 130,903 14,689 23,801 707
1999 385 134,271 14,699 22,606 766
2000 362 138,708 16,406 23,336 695
2001 347 152,283 17,577 26,591 767
2002 366 160,118 18,718 20,989 706
2003 341 157,280 18,025 19,709 696
2004 302 156,849 19,171 16,513 768
2005 301 166,507 18,695 17,176 729
2006 321 172,441 19,555 17,375 726
2007 283 176,077 19,954 17,996 733
2008 293 170,720 19,992 16,513 788
2009 293 175,277 18,807 15,238 564
2010 260 171,083 17,757 14,582 603
2011 274 117,873 17,238 13,617 670

a: Comprises the offences of murder and manslaughter

b: 2011 figure does not include information from Victoria, Queensland and Tasmania. Therefore, the assault figure cannot be compared with those prior to 2011

c: Comprises the offences of armed and unarmed robbery. Robbery is classified as a violent crime as the use or threat of violence is more serious than a property offence

Note: Number of victims presented here represents revised estimates on numbers published in earlier editions of Australian Crime: Facts & Figures. It is advised that caution be exercised when comparing the number of robbery victims due to an undercounting of victims in New South Wales prior to 2005

  • In 2011, the number of victims of robbery and sexual assault decreased. Specifically, there were 965 fewer victims of robbery compared with the figure recorded in 2010 and 519 fewer victims of sexual assault.
  • Both homicide and kidnapping victimisation increased in 2011. There were 14 more victims of homicide in 2011 and 67 more victims of kidnapping/abduction.
  • There were 117,873 victims of assault recorded in 2011. However, this figure does not include data from Victoria, Queensland and Tasmania and is therefore not comparable with prior years.

Source: Reference 1

Figure 1 Annual change in victims of selected violent crimes, 2002–11 (%)

Annual change in victims of selected violent crimes, 2002–11 (%)

  • The violent crime with the greatest percentage increase in recorded victims in 2010–11 was kidnapping/abduction, which increased by 11 percent. This is five percentage points greater than the increase recorded in 2009–10.
  • Due to the small numbers of victims per year, homicide has fluctuated over the nine year period. The greatest percentage decrease was recorded in 2006–07 at 12 percent. In 2010–11, the number of homicide victims increased by five percent.
  • Between 2010 and 2011, sexual assault victimisation decreased by three percent, while robbery decreased by seven percent.

Source: Reference 1

Property crime

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

Table 2 Victims of property crime, 1996–2011 (n)
UEWI MVT Other theft
1996 402,079 122,914 521,762
1997 421,569 130,138 530,881
1998 434,376 131,587 563,482
1999 415,735 129,552 612,559
2000 436,968 138,912 681,268
2001 435,754 139,894 700,137
2002 394,323 113,460 680,799
2003 354,020 98,298 624,036
2004 308,675 87,939 548,778
2005 281,994 80,365 518,335
2006 262,005 75,377 518,734
2007 248,475 70,614 491,935
2008 241,760 68,265 497,053
2009 222,664 59,649 478,807
2010 216,886 54,736 461,169
2011 218,193 55,382 487,573

Note: Number of victims presented here represents revised estimates on numbers published in earlier editions of Australian Crime: Facts & Figures

  • Property crime victimisation continued to occur at much higher rates than violent crime. In 2011, all categories of property crime increased. This was especially noticeable in the category of other theft, which increased by 26,404 victims—an increase of five percent.
  • Despite increasing by 1,307 victims, the number of victims of UEWI in 2011 remained lower than that recorded in 1996. This pattern was similar for MVT, where victimisation was 55 percent lower in 2011 than it was in 1996.

Source: Reference 1

Figure 2 Annual change in victims of property crime, 2002–11 (%)

Annual change in victims of property crime, 2002–11 (%)

  • The overall trend in property crime victimisation saw a continual decline until 2011, when it increased across all categories. However, the increases were relatively small, with both UEWI and MVT victimisation increasing by approximately one percent.
  • Between 2010 and 2011, the number of victims of ‘other theft’ increased by five percent. This was the greatest percentage increase on record for the last nine years.
  • The increases in victimisation recorded in the categories of UEWI and MVT were the first identified since the year 2000.

Source: Reference 1

Recorded crime victimisation 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 in that 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. In this section, they are calculated per 100,000 persons in the population per year.

Violent crime victimisation rate

Figure 3 Victims of violent crimes, 1996–2011 (rate per 100,000 population)

Victims of violent crimes, 1996–2011 (rate per 100,000 population)

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

  • In 1996, the rate of robbery victimisation was greater than that of sexual assault (89 as opposed to 79 per 100,000 population). In 2004, this changed when the rate of sexual assault victimisation increased to 95 per 100,000 while robbery dropped to 82 per 100,000. Since then, the rate of robbery victimisation has remained below the rate of sexual assault victimisation and in 2011, there were 60 victims of robbery per 100,000 population compared with 76 victims of sexual assault per 100,000 population.
  • In 2011, the rate of homicide victimisation was one per 100,000 population.
  • The rate of kidnapping/abduction victimisation has never been higher than four per 100,000 population in the 16 years for which data is available. Victimisation peaked in 1999 at four per 100,000 before decreasing to three per 100,000 in 2011.

Source: References 1 and 2

Property crime victimisation rate

Figure 4 Victims of property crimes, 1996–2011 (rate per 100,000 population)

Victims of property crimes, 1996–2011 (rate per 100,000 population)

  • Despite increasing in number in 2011, the victimisation rates of UEWI and MVT decreased. Specifically, UEWI victimisation occurred at a rate of 965 per 100,000 population; an overall decrease of 58 percent since 2000. Similarly, the victimisation rate of MVT has decreased by 66 percent since 2000 to 245 per 100,000 population in 2011.
  • Between 2010 and 2011, the rate of other theft victimisation increased by four percent; from 2,064 to 2,155 per 100,000 population.

Source: References 1 and 2

Location of crime

The ABS classifies crime locations according to the function of the site of the crime. There are three broad location types:

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

The number of victims of selected violent offences that occurred within each type of location is presented in Table 3.

Table 3 Location type of violent crimes, 2011
Murder Sexual assault Robbery Kidnapping/abduction
Residential
Residential—dwelling 164 10,654 908 223
Outbuilding/residential land 14 299 168 10
Other residential 6 206 21 3
Total residential 184 11,159 1,097 236
Community
Transport 3 619 1,179 23
Street/footpath 22 1,217 5,886 307
Other community location 14 1,431 457 35
Total community 39 3,267 7,522 365
Other location
Retail 14 734 3,519 30
Recreational 0 787 979 21
Other 3 260 240 11
Total other 17 1,781 4,738 62
Unspecified 3 970 177 4
Total 243 17,177 13,534 667

a: Total includes locations not elsewhere classified

  • Murder and sexual assault victimisation most commonly occurred in the home, while robbery most commonly occurred on the street/footpath. Specifically, 164 victims were murdered (67% of all murder victims) and 10,654 victims were sexually assaulted (62% of all victims of sexual assault) in a residential dwelling.
  • In 2011, 3,519 victims were robbed in a retail setting, accounting for 26 percent of all robbery victims that year.
  • As with robberies, kidnapping/abduction victims were most commonly kidnapped or abducted on the street/footpath, with 46 percent (n= 307) recorded in this location in 2011.

Source: Reference 1

Figure 5 Victims of violent crimesa by type of location, 2000–11 (n)

Victims of violent crimes by type of location, 2000–11 (n)

a: Excludes assault

  • Over the past 12 years, residential settings have been the most common location for violent crime victimisation, with the number of victims increasing, on average, by three percent per year until 2007. Since then, the number of people victimised in residences has decreased by 17 percent to 11,949 in 2011.
  • The number of victims of violent crimes in retail settings increased by four percent between 2010 and 2011, from 4,143 to 4,297 victims. Conversely, violent crime victimisation on the street/footpath decreased by 10 percent from 8,223 to 7,432 in the same period.
  • In 2010, the number of victims of violent crimes occurring in recreational settings decreased below 2,000, specifically, there were 1,970 victims in 2010 and 1,787 victims in 2011.

Source: Reference 1

The number of property offences (UEWI, MVT and ‘other theft’) that occurred at each type of location is presented in Table 4.

Table 4 Location type of property crimes, 2011
UEWI MVT Other theft
Residential
Residential—dwelling 134,269 6 43,476
Outbuilding/residential land 16,876 24,009 97,756
Other residential 3,581 23 3,141
Total residential 154,726 24,038 144,373
Community
Transport 408 3,311 31,645
Street/footpath 0 18,810 65,985
Other community location 12,116 813 25,050
Total community 12,524 22,934 122,680
Other location
Retail 24,340 3,543 160,532
Recreational 5,643 601 19,365
Other 19,411 3,459 28,693
Total other location 50,943 8,414 220,520
Unspecified 1,549 811 11,930
Total 218,193 55,386 487,573
  • UEWI and MVT victimisation most commonly occurred in residential settings. Sixty-two percent (n=134,269) of victims of UEWI were victimised in dwellings and 43 percent (n=24,009) of MVTs occurred on outbuilding/residential lands.
  • A further 34 percent of victims had their motor vehicles stolen from the street/footpath, with 18,810 recorded in 2011.
  • ‘Other theft’ victimisation was least likely to occur in other residential settings (n= 3,141) or recreational (n=19,365) settings. However, 33 percent (n=160,532) of victimisations occurred in retail locations, making this the most common location for ‘other theft’.

Source: Reference 1

Figure 6 Property crime by location, 2011 (%)

Property crime by location, 2011 (%)

Note: n=607,360. Excludes residential locations that could not be classified as a dwelling, outbuilding/residential land and locations not further defined

  • Thirty-one percent of all property crime victimisation occurred in a retail setting, making it the most common location for property crime in 2011. This was followed by residential dwelling (29%) and on the street/footpath (14%).
  • Property crime victimisation was least likely to occur in recreational (4%), transport (6%) and other community (6%) locations.

Source: Reference 1

Figure 7 Property crime by location, 2000–11

Property crime by location, 2000–11

  • Residential dwelling locations were the most common setting for property crime victimisation until 2009, when the number of people victimised in retail locations increased to 185,961 compared with 173,535 victimised in dwellings. In 2011, 177,751 victims of property offences were victimised in dwellings and 188,415 in retail settings.
  • The numbers of victims of property offences who were victimised in transport and other community locations has fluctuated over the past seven years. However, overall, both have decreased since 2000—transport by 63 percent and other community by 57 percent.
  • In 2000, 176,380 victims of property offences were victimised on the street/footpath. Since then, the number of victims in this location has decreased on average, by four percent per year. In 2011, 84,795 victims of property offences were recorded as being victimised on the street/footpath.

Source: Reference 1