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Statistical snapshot of victims of crime in the Australian Capital Territory

The following section provides an overview of victims of crime in the Australian Capital Territory. The data used for analysis were provided by PERT within ACT Policing and relate to the financial year 2007–08. Caution must be taken when comparing these results to other published data on victims such as the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ publication Recorded Crime—Victims (ABS 2007), which uses reports based on the calendar year

It is important to note when reading this section that the data provided are only for victims who have reported their victimisation to police. As was discussed earlier, many crimes go unreported and this is particularly the case for those crimes that occur within the private sphere, such as domestic and family violence, and sexual assault.

Victim numbers in the Australian Capital Territory

The number of victims of various offences in the Australian Capital Territory for the financial year 2007–08 is presented in Table 1. It should be noted the numbers of victims of offences is not the same as the total number of individual victims in the Australian Capital Territory, as a single incident against a victim might include more than one offence. During the reporting period, there were a total of 30,835 victims of offences (see Table 1); however, there were 26,018 individual victims, including organisations or the crown (see Table 2).

In the Australian Capital Territory, individuals were most likely to be the victim of a theft, other than a motor vehicle theft, with almost 43 percent of recorded victims falling into this category. This was followed by property damage (26.7%) and burglary (13.1%). More serious crimes comprised a much smaller proportion of the sample, with the main five offences against the person (homicide, assault, sexual offences, other offences against the person and robbery) combining to make up less than 10 percent of the total number of recorded victims of offences in the Australian Capital Territory.

The most common location for an offence in the Australian Capital Territory was in a residential house (33%), followed by a general public place such as the street (18%) or a car park (15%; see Table 2).

Table 1 Victims in the Australian Capital Territory by crime type, 1 July 07 to 30 June 08
Offence type n % of the total
Homicide and related offences 4 <0.0
Assault 2,311 7.5
Sexual-related offence 339 1.1
Other offences against the person 101 0.3
Robbery 228 0.7
Blackmail and extortion 1 <0.0
Burglary 4,052 13.1
Fraud and misappropriation 458 1.5
Stolen motor vehicle 2,002 6.5
Theft other than motor vehicle 13,103 42.5
Property damage 8,236 26.7
Total 30,835a 100

a: This identifies victims of offences. Victims may appear multiple times in the one offence

Source: ACT Policing, specific data request April 2009

Table 2 Victims in the Australian Capital Territory by location (type) of offences, 1 July 07 to 30 June 08
Location of offence n %
House 8,477 32.6
Public place (including street/path/bicycle path) 4,556 17.5
Car park 3,967 15.2
Shop 2,998 11.5
Service station 1,541 5.9
School (including all educational and surrounds) 936 3.6
Licensed premises 581 2.2
Office 321 1.2
Garage not attached to residence 291 1.1
Garage attached to residence 256 1.0
Building site 248 1.0
Recreational centre 188 0.7
Hotel/motel 184 0.7
Hospital (including all health facilities except chemist/surgery) 125 0.5
Church 87 0.3
Bank (including building society/credit union) 82 0.3
Bus depot 72 0.3
Chemist/surgery 32 0.1
Post office/mail exchange 18 0.1
Police station 17 0.1
Airport 15 0.1
Train station 5 <0.0
TAB 4 <0.0
Seaport 2 <0.0
Other 1,015 3.9
Totala 26,018 100.0

a: This identifies all unique victims regardless of the number of offences for which they were a victim

Source: ACT Policing, specific data request April 2009

The gender of victims of crime in the Australian Capital Territory

While it may be perceived that women are more likely to be a victim of crime than men, Australian Bureau of Statistics’ data for both recorded crime (crimes reported to police; ABS 2007) and victim-based surveys such as the Crime and Safety Survey (ABS 2005) show that for most crimes, men are more likely to be victims than women. Nationally, exceptions to this are the offence types of sexual assault (AIC 2011) and family-based violence (Morgan & Chadwick 2009), for which rates of victimisation are higher among females.

It is therefore not surprising that the data indicate that men are more likely than women to be a victim of crime in the Australian Capital Territory (see Table 3). Of the total number of victims (excluding instances where the victim was an organisation or the crown, or where the gender of the victim was unknown (n=19,502)), 56 percent of victims were male.

A breakdown of the type of victim for each offence by offence type is presented in Figure 1. In the Australian Capital Territory during 2007–08, males comprised the largest proportion of victims for every crime type with the exception of sexual offences.

Figure 1 Gender/type of victim by offence type, 1 July 07 to 30 June 08 (%)

Source: ACT Policing, specific data request April 2009

In terms of the most notable gender differences, women were over five times more likely to report a sexual assault than men. By contrast, men were nearly three times more likely to report to police that they had been a victim of robbery.

While it is not addressed in this report, it has been well documented that men are far more likely to be the perpetrators of crime than women. Consequently, the dynamics of most crimes are male against male or male against female. PERT examined the number of victims who were also alleged to have committed crimes over the same period in which they were a victim. It was found that as of April 2009, of the 10,972 male victims, 1,683 (15%) were also an alleged offender. Of the 8,530 female victims, 732 (9%) were also an alleged offender during the same period.

Table 3 Victims in the Australian Capital Territory by gender, 1 July 07 to 30 June 08
Gender of victim n % of sample
Unknown 129 0.5
Female 8,530 32.8
Male 10,972 42.2
Organisation 5,966 22.9
Reginaa 421 1.6
Total 26,018 100.0

a: Regina is the victim where an ACT/Commonwealth representative or ACT/Commonwealth property is offended against

Source: ACT Policing, specific data request April 2009

Age and victims of crime in the Australian Capital Territory

Where the victim was an individual, the largest category of victims of crime in the Australian Capital Territory was aged between 21 and 30 years (19%; see Table 4). Individuals in their 30s were the second largest group, followed by those aged 10 to 19 years. While those aged over 65 years were the most likely to report feeling ‘unsafe or very unsafe’ in their own homes (ABS 2005: 27), with the exception of those aged under 10 years, persons aged over 60 years were the smallest group to report being a victim of crime to police in the Australian Capital Territory. Indeed, only six percent of victims who reported a crime to police in the Australian Capital Territory during 2007–08 were aged over 60 years. These findings reflect the wider Australian population findings on crime (AIC 2008, 2007).

Using instances where both age and sex for victims of all identified crimes was known (as discussed previously, a victim may appear in this Table more than once), there were relatively few differences across age or sex in the reporting of crime to police (see Table 5).

Table 4 Victims by age group, 1 July 07 to 30 June 08
Age of victim (years) n % of sample
Unknown 451 1.7
0–10 139 0.5
11–20 2,624 10.1
21–30 5,017 19.3
31–40 3,841 14.8
41–50 3,556 13.7
51–60 2,437 9.4
61–70 1,055 4.1
71–80 355 1.4
81+ 156 0.6
Organisation 5,966 22.9
The Crown 421 1.6
Total 26,018 100.0

Source: ACT Policing, specific data request April 2009

Table 5 Victims by age and sex (where both are known), 1 July 07 to 30 June 08
Age of victim (years) Male (n) Male (%) Female (n) Female (%)
0–10 74 0.6 65 0.7
11–20 1,560 11.9 1,404 14.0
21–30 3,520 26.8 2,501 25.0
31–40 2,672 20.3 2,053 20.5
41–50 2,452 18.7 1,966 19.7
51–60 1,759 13.4 1,225 12.3
61–70 784 6.0 503 5.0
71–80 244 1.9 165 1.7
81+ 74 0.6 114 1.1
Total 13,139 100.0 9,996 100.0

Source: ACT Policing, specific data request April 2009

Indigenous status of victims in the Australian Capital Territory

Assessing the data by Indigenous status, it was found that those victims known to be of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander background were more likely to be the victims of serious personal crime such as assault and sexual offences. Indigenous victims were also more likely to be the victim of a robbery than the rest of the sample, but less likely to be the victim of other property crime such as stolen motor vehicles (SMV) or burglary (see Table 6).

However, as the Indigenous status of almost 42 percent of the sample was not known, these results are not a reliable estimate of the reported victimisation of Indigenous Australians in the Australian Capital Territory.

Table 6 Victims of crime in the Australian Capital Territory by crime type and Indigenous status, 1 July 07 to 30 June 08
  Unknown status Non-Indigenous Indigenous
n % n % n %
Homicide and related offences 1 0.0 3 0.0 0 0.0
Assault 706 7.1 1,440 10.6 59 43.4
Sexual-related offence 78 0.8 238 1.7 10 7.4
Other offences against the person 30 0.3 49 0.4 1 0.7
Robbery 64 0.6 137 1.0 2 1.5
Blackmail and extortion 0 0.0 1 0.0 0 0.0
Burglary 1,051 10.6 2,016 14.8 8 5.9
Fraud and misappropriation 94 0.9 166 1.2 0 0.0
Stolen motor vehicle 816 8.2 1,055 7.7 7 5.1
Theft other than stolen motor vehicle 3,915 39.5 5,048 37.0 18 13.2
Property damage 3,145 31.8 3,472 25.5 31 22.8
Total 9,900 100.0 13,625 100.0 136 100.0

Note: Individuals victims may appear more than once in the Table where more than 1 offence was committed against them. Further, this data excludes incidents where the victim was an organisation or the Crown

Source: ACT Policing, specific data request April 2009

Clearing offences in the Australian Capital Territory

In the Australian Capital Territory, offences can be cleared from the ACT Policing system in a number of ways. How offences that were linked to a specific victim were cleared in 2007–08 is presented in Table 7. Overall, most offences were not cleared (82%) and this was usually the case where an offender was not known to the victim.

It was apparent that more serious crimes against the person, such as assault and sexual offences, were far more likely to result in an offence being cleared (see Table 8). For property-type offences between 84 percent and 91 percent were not cleared, while for assault and sexual assault, 37 percent and 36 percent were not cleared, respectively.

Table 7 Victims in the Australian Capital Territory by how the incident was cleared, 1 July 07 to 30 June 08
Method of clearance n % of sample
Not cleared 21,425 82.3
Arrest 1,199 4.6
Insufficient evidence to proceed 757 2.9
Complaint withdrawn by victim 647 2.5
Cleared otherwise 493 1.9
Caution 486 1.9
Summons 472 1.8
Charged before court 198 0.8
Summons brief submitted 135 0.5
Unfounded 81 0.3
Diversionary conference 74 0.3
Charge withdrawn 19 0.1
Warrant 19 0.1
Infringement notice 13 <0.0
Total 26,018 100

Source: ACT Policing, specific data request April 2009

 

Table 8 Victims in the Australian Capital Territory by selected crime type and how the incident was cleared, 1 July 07 to 30 June 08
  Assault Sexual offences Burglary SMV Other theft Property damage
  n % n % n % n % n % n %
Arrest 453 20.0 49 14.6 117 2.9 82 4.4 217 2.4 188 2.4
Caution 79 3.5 5 1.5 7 0.2 4 0.2 333 3.7 51 0.6
Charge withdrawn 7 0.3 2 0.6 0 0.0 0 0.0 6 0.1 1 0.0
Charged before court 27 1.2 5 1.5 68 1.7 24 1.3 48 0.5 8 0.1
Cleared otherwise 104 4.6 11 3.3 39 1.0 15 0.8 172 1.9 113 1.4
Complaint withdrawn by victim 331 14.6 51 15.2 11 0.3 8 0.4 111 1.2 107 1.4
Diversionary conference 20 0.9 0 0.0 5 0.1 5 0.3 20 0.2 24 0.3
Infringement notice 0 0.0 0 0.0 0 0.0 0 0.0 13 0.1 0 0.0
Insufficient evidence to proceed 197 8.7 58 17.3 55 1.4 31 1.7 211 2.4 168 2.1
Not cleared 828 36.6 120 35.7 3,620 91.0 1,682 89.8 7,515 84.2 7,181 90.8
Summons 124 5.5 12 3.6 37 0.9 14 0.7 214 2.4 44 0.6
Summons brief submitted 46 2.0 1 0.3 14 0.4 6 0.3 50 0.6 12 0.2
Unfounded 35 1.5 22 6.5 3 0.1 2 0.1 12 0.1 6 0.1
Warrant 11 0.5 0 0.0 3 0.1 0 0.0 2 0.0 3 0.0
Total 2,262 100.0 336 100.0 3,979 100.0 1,873 100.0 8,924 100.0 7,906 100.0

Source: ACT Policing, specific data request April 2009

Repeat victimisation in the Australian Capital Territory

Around 30 percent of victims of crime on police records in 2007–08 were victimised on more than one occasion during that period (see Table 9). While experienced by a minority only (less than 2%), a small number of males and females were recorded as being the victims of crime on more than five occasions during 2007–08.

This analysis should be viewed with caution as the likelihood of an individual being re-victimised within this period is dependent on the date they were originally victimised; therefore, the analysis is likely to be a conservative estimate of actual re-victimisation. A better measure of re-victimisation would be to follow up all victims for the same period of time after their initial incident; however, this was not possible for this research.

Table 9 Victims of crime in the Australian Capital Territory by incidents of victimisation and sex, 1 July 07 to 30 June 08
  Female Male
Incidents of victimisation (n) n % n %
1 5,607 71.6 7,090 70.1
2 1,893 24.2 2,609 25.8
3 227 2.9 292 2.9
4 68 0.9 88 0.9
5 26 0.3 23 0.2
6 8 0.1 8 0.1
7+ 4 0.1 6 0.1
Totala 7,833 100.0 10,116 100

a: 1,553 cases missing

Source: ACT Policing personal communication April 2009

SupportLink statistics

In addition to information provided by ACT Policing, SupportLink provided information on the number of referrals received from police. During the 2007–08 financial year, SupportLink received 5,799 individual referrals on the SupportLink system. Individuals can have up to two issues identified by police and as a result, for the 5,799 individual referrals there were 8,015 victim-related issues received from police. These figures suggest that nearly one in three individuals who were victims of crime in the Australian Capital Territory received a referral to SupportLink. This is significantly higher than the national results reflected in the ICVS highlighted earlier where Australia was found to have a ‘coverage rate’ of just six percent.

SupportLink identified that most (n=1,737) of the referrals were for Home Safety (usually post-burglary clients requesting information on home security), followed by general support and the parenting of young people. Table 10 shows the full breakdown of issues identified by ACT Policing.

Table 10 Issues identified as primary issue by officers, 2007–08
Incident type n %
Home safety 1,737 21.7
General support 1,050 13.1
Parenting of youth 754 9.4
Couple relationships 536 6.7
Business security 434 5.4
Mental health—non crisis 431 5.4
Couple separation 349 4.4
Government services 324 4.0
Victim support counselling 295 3.7
Substance abuse 284 3.5
Mediation and conflict resolution 253 3.2
Neighbourhood Watch 238 3.0
Parenting children 0–12 years 217 2.7
Victim support court or general 210 2.6
Road trauma support 151 1.9
Couple separation legal 142 1.8
Aged care and support 142 1.8
Home safety assessment 132 1.6
Parenting youth mediation 95 1.2
Financial 73 0.9
PCYC 70 0.9
Sudden death 36 0.4
Post-suicide support 17 0.2
Domestic violence 15 0.2
Aged care and support 12 0.1
Mental health services 7 0.1
SIDS and kids 5 0.1
Grief and loss 2 0.0
Total number of issues 8,015 100.0

Source: SupportLink personal communication 2009

It should be noted that due to the MoU in place between DVCS and ACT Policing, and because most referrals to the Canberra Rape Crisis Centre come from the Sexual and Child Abuse Team within ACT Policing, for the most part SupportLink do not provide referrals to these agencies. However, the data provided by SupportLink can be used to estimate that for the approximately 26,000 victims of crime during the 2007–08 financial year, there were approximately 5,800 referrals made to SupportLink. This indicates that close to one in five victims of crime who reported their matter to police agreed to be contacted by SupportLink.

The number of victims who came into contact with SupportLink is presented in Figure 2. The data show that the number of referrals from ACT Policing to SupportLink rose steadily from 2003–04, increasing from fewer than 1,000 referrals to over 6,000 in the 2008–09 financial year. It should be noted that the increase in the numbers of referrals does not reflect an increase in crime rates but rather continued improvement in police performance with regard to the referral of victims to support services.

Figure 2 Referrals from ACT Policing to SupportLink by financial year

Referrals from ACT Policing to SupportLink by financial year

Source: Data provided by SupportLink on request

Further data were provided by SupportLink to establish the extent to which the referrals offered by SupportLink result in a victim actually receiving assistance or support. There were 8,776 referrals made to SupportLink in 2008–09 and approximately half (n=4,533) resulted in an agency being engaged to provide a service. A summary of the accepted referrals by agency is provided in Table 11.

During subsequent communication with SupportLink, further information was provided regarding referrals to victim counseling. Specifically, it was determined that of nearly 400 requests for victims counseling support in 2008–09, more than one-third were seeking generic victims counseling/support services, which they were subsequently offered through Victim Support ACT. A small number sought assistance through other services such as DVCS, Coronial Support and Family Support Programs, while nearly half declined further assistance beyond the initial SupportLink engagement. Reasons for victims declining further assistance included:

  • victim’s situation becoming settled;
  • satisfaction from support given by family and friends;
  • preference to not re-engage with the event; and
  • needing time to consider follow-up support.

It is important to note that SupportLink provides all clients with a contact number in case they change their mind and decide to pursue further support services or a formal referral.