Australian Institute of Criminology

Skip to content


While the volume and rate of individual crime types has fluctuated over the past few years, overall, crime in Australia has been decreasing. Australian Crime: Facts & Figures uses information compiled from a broad range of sources to create an accurate and holistic picture of crime and criminal justice issues in Australia. Within this volume are the patterns and trends relating to specific crimes, victims, offenders, the location of criminal acts and the operation and cost of the criminal justice system (including the police, courts and prisons). The purpose of this publication is to provide government and justice agencies, the media and the Australian public with accurate, easy to access crime statistics in a single, centralised location.

An online version of Australian Crime: Facts & Figures is also available at the Australian Institute of Criminology’s (AIC) website ( This online tool allows users to generate their own graphs and tables and more fully engage with the data presented. For more information on specific crime and justice issues, the AIC disseminates a number of publications, from fact sheets through to detailed reports. These publications are available for free downloaded from the AIC website in a variety of formats, or by contacting the AIC directly.


Property crime

  • Property crime continued to be reported at a much higher volume than violent crime in 2012. While there were statistically small changes in ‘other’ theft and unlawful entry with intent, following a small increase in motor vehicle theft in 2011, the six percent increase in the number of victims of motor vehicle theft in 2012 (from 55,310 in 2011 to 58,574 in 2012) is the greatest percentage increase on record for the last 10 years.

Financial crime

  • Overall, while fraud committed on credit and charge cards decreased by 17 percent between 2011 and 2012—a decrease of 16.78 cents per $1,000 transacted, these types of fraud have generally increased since 2006, increasing from 37.93 cents per $1,000 transacted in 2006 to 79.26 cents per $1,000 transacted in 2012.
  • Scams aim to defraud an individual through deception. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission monitors the level of scam activity. The top 10 scams reported to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission in 2012 involved:
    • advance fee/upfront payment;
    • computer hacking (including malware and viruses);
    • lottery and sweepstakes;
    • banking and online account (including phishing and identity theft);
    • online auction and shopping (including classifieds);
    • unexpected prizes;
    • job and employment (including business opportunity);
    • false billing;
    • dating and romance (including adult services); and
    • mobile phone (including ringtones, competitions and missed calls).
  • The proportion of reported scams involving advance fee/upfront payment scams decreased by five percentage points between 2011 and 2012, while computer hacking decreased by 10 percentage points.
  • Conversely, the proportion of scams involving lottery and sweepstakes, banking and online accounts, online auction and shopping, and unexpected prizes increased between 2011 and 2012.


  • The number of amphetamine arrests peaked in 2011–12 at 16,828, a 30 percent increase on the previous year and consistent with an overall increase in use since 1996–97.
  • Cannabis has accounted for the highest volume of drug arrests since 1996–97. In 2011–12, there were 61,011 drug arrests involving cannabis, a 12 percent decrease on that recorded in 1996–97. However, since 2007–08, the number of cannabis-related arrests has been increasing by approximately three percent per year.
  • The number of cocaine arrests peaked in 2009–10 at 1,244. The 2011–12 figure (n=995) represented a 19 percent increase on the previous year, but is still 20 percentage points below the 2009–10 peak in arrests.
  • Between 1998–99 and 2001–02, the number of heroin-related drug arrests decreased from 14,341 to 3,259—a total percentage decrease of 77 percent. In 2011–12, there were 2,714 heroin-related arrests.
  • The proportion of police detainees testing positive to any drug at Drug Use Monitoring Australia program sites of Parramatta, Brisbane and Adelaide has increased in the past four years. Since 2009, the proportion testing positive to any drug in Parramatta increased by 20 percent, while the proportion in Brisbane and Adelaide increased by five and one percent respectively. Positive test rates for Kings Cross and Southport have also increased in the last three years.

Violent crime

  • In 2012, there were 21 more homicides and 561 more sexual assaults compared with figures recorded in 2011. While all high impact crimes in themselves, the change is statistically small.
    • The homicide data is consistent with a general decline in homicide evident since 1999, when there was a peak of 344 murder victims. The 2012 figure of 255 murder victims represents a 26 percent decrease in the number of victims of murder compared with 1999 figures. There were 42 manslaughter victims in 2012.
    • Just over half of the 255 murders in 2012 occurred in a residential dwelling. The next most common location was the street or footpath, where 16 percent of victims were murdered.
  • Generally, the rate of robbery victimisation has been declining since 2001. In the last six years, the rate of robbery victimisation has steadily declined from 86 per 100,000 in 2007 to 58 per 100,000 in 2012.
  • Violent crimes occurring in recreational settings rose by four percent between 2011 and 2012; from 1,787 to 1,865 incidents, while the number of victims of violent crime in the home increased by six percent to 12,650.
  • In 2012, there were 116,103 victims of assault, constituting 969 victims per 100,000 population. This is based on data from New South Wales, South Australia, Western Australia, the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory only. Assault data from Victoria, Queensland and Tasmania was not included.


  • A total of 29,383 persons were in custody in Australian prisons on 30 June 2012—a one percent increase on the number recorded in 2011.
  • In 2012, the rate of imprisonment of Indigenous offenders was 19 times higher at 2,302 per 100,000 population than the rate of 124 per 100,000 for non-Indigenous offenders.
  • In 2012, the rate of incarceration of Indigenous juveniles was 460 per 100,000 population, currently 21 percent higher than the rate recorded in 1994. Indigenous juveniles were 32 times more likely to be incarcerated than non-Indigenous juveniles.
  • The total recurrent expenditure on police services across Australia in 2011–12 was approximately $9.8b. Victoria spent $472 per adult on police services in 2011–12; less than any other state or territory. Conversely, expenditure per head of population was highest in the Northern Territory—$1,734 per adult.

Adam Tomison