Australian Institute of Criminology

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Introduction

National Armed Robbery Monitoring Program collection

The NARMP is operated by the Australian Institute of Criminology (AIC) as a tool to identify and monitor trends in armed robbery across Australia. The AIC’s analysis of the available armed robbery data provides a particular focus on trends in weapon use, as well as providing insight into the factors that may underpin these trends. It reports on national-level analyses that can complement other crime information sources. The NARMP was established in 2003 under the auspices of Australasian Police Ministers and senior police officers (for more detail about the establishment of the NARMP, see the AIC’s NARMP website http://www.aic.gov.au/about_aic/research_programs/nmp/0003.aspx). It is sustained by the ongoing support of police services in all Australian states and territories, as well as assistance from a range of other stakeholder groups including the retail, financial, service and private security sectors.

The NARMP collection is still a relatively new crime-trend monitoring program. It contains information concerning each victim of armed robbery reported to police in Australia since 2003. The NARMP was initially modelled on the Recorded Crime: Victims, Australia (RCV) collection (ABS 2009a, 2008a), although consultation with data providers and other key stakeholders has seen refinements to what is collected over time. For example, victim data from calendar year 2004 onwards have usually been accompanied by an incident ‘identifier’. An identifier is a tool that allows victim records to be collapsed into incidents in which individual victims were involved. The ability to analyse data in this manner is important for the accurate description of the elements of each single incident of robbery. For instance, a single armed robbery involving one handgun might have six victims. If data are analysed in a victim-based format, a count of six handguns would result, but if the unit of analysis is the incident, only one handgun is counted.

The level of detail about armed robberies in collated information has also increased over time. The initial annual dataset mostly contained information pre-coded into higher level RCV categories. Files received from jurisdictions now contain information in its raw form, which allows more detailed categories to be constructed. The inclusion of more detailed categories means some analyses refer to categories containing only a few cases. However, small numbers can result in large fluctuations over time, affecting the reliability of yearly comparisons. The types of variables collated have also changed over time so that additional information, such as the incident identifier described above, is now collected. Some variables are not recorded in NARMP, such as details on sentencing and an offender’s prior convictions which can now be found in some jurisdictional reports such as Victoria’s Sentencing Advisory Council report Sentencing for Armed Robbery: A Statistical Profile (Woodhouse 2010).

Due to the evolving nature of the NARMP, care should be taken in drawing strict or detailed comparisons between different recorded crime sources (such as RCV and the NARMP) or even between initial and later NARMP reports. Ongoing refinements to the nature of the material it contains mean that any comparisons drawn with earlier annual reports are based on observed trends and are not accompanied by statistical tests of significance. The relatively short time since the establishment of the NARMP also means that none of the annual comparisons have yet been subject to any time series analyses.

Report format

In this report, an examination is made of all armed robbery victims and the armed robberies they were involved in, which were reported to police in all Australian jurisdictions from 1 January to 31 December 2008. Details of methodology and type of information included in the NARMP can be found in the Technical Appendix to this report, as can a more detailed discussion of the limitations of the NARMP. The Technical Appendix also provides a glossary of terms and definitions found in this report.

The key findings from the 2008 NARMP collection are reported in three sections. The first section contains summaries of victim-based analyses. Using the same unit of analysis as in previous years has allowed broad comparisons to be drawn with information contained in earlier NARMP annual reports, as well as in other recorded crime sources, such as RCV (ABS 2009a, 2008a).

In the second section, there is an examination of the characteristics of each armed robbery incident, using the incident as the unit of analysis. Findings can generally be compared with the previous NARMP analyses (all references to previous NARMP findings throughout this report relate to the relevant annual report; see Borzycki 2008, 2006). As with 2005, 2006 and 2007, data used in the 2008 report are more representative on a national level than earlier NARMP reports. This is because all jurisdictions were able to supply a unique incident identifier. In 2004, not all jurisdictions could supply the incident identifier, which meant that the incidents examined did not represent all incidents reported to police.

In the third section, incident-based analyses are also used to outline characteristics of armed robbery offenders. The report concludes with a case study that examines armed robberies at transport-related locations (eg train stations) in detail. This type of robbery is of interest due to the challenges it can pose for people who utilise public transport and for those who work in this type of location (eg taxi drivers).

Analysis of the NARMP data suggests that the characteristics of armed robberies have been generally consistent over the six years of the program although, as noted earlier, caution should be exercised when making comparisons with previous years. The introduction of crime prevention theory in the previous two reports (situational crime prevention and routine activity theory) better explain the dynamics of armed robbery. Methods for promoting better approaches to prevention are built into the Discussion and highlight the importance of monitoring armed robbery and evaluating approaches to prevention in order to inform the sector on successful strategies.