Australian Institute of Criminology

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Repeat victimisation and crime hot spots

Media Release

22 February 1998

22 February 1998

Half of all Australian household crimes (burglaries and motor vehicle thefts) are experienced by less than 30 per cent of households. These repeat victims bear a disproportionate share of crime in Australia.

Releasing the Australian Institute of Criminology's latest report, Repeat Victimisation in Australia, the Director, Dr Adam Graycar said that this report highlights the significance of repeat victimisation as an issue for crime prevention policy and planning in Australia.

The report was prepared by Australian Institute of Criminology Principal Criminologist, Dr Satyanshu Mukherjee and Research Analyst, Carlos Carcach.

"It shows that if, as a crime prevention measure, we randomly target 1000 previously unvictimised households, we can expect to prevent around 83 household burglaries and motor vehicle thefts. But if we select 1000 previously victimised households we can expect to prevent around 287 crimes", he said.

"Overseas examples of target hardening (enhanced security measures) in areas of concentrated crime have been shown to be very successful"

"Crime is not an equal opportunity predator - who you are, where you live and who you know affects your chances of victimisation. The data analysis in this report is helping us to understand repeat victimisation so that we can take steps to prevent it", said Dr Graycar.

People who have previously been assaulted, experience two-thirds of all assaults and make up more than 40 per cent of assault victims in Australia.

Crime concentrates around certain targets. Some personal and locational characteristics appear to attract repeat victimisation. Young males aged 15-24 years suffer more repeat victimisation than any other group.

The study points out the strength of modern technology in designing an integrated crime prevention strategy. Such a strategy takes into account detailed information on

  • repeat victimisation;
  • repeat offenders; and
  • the location of crime.

This type of integrated approach can guide the development of technology for the next generation of crime prevention practitioners.

Repeat Victimisation in Australia suggests that more information is required on offender characteristics. Currently, crime prevention strategies tend to be based on information relating to victims and incidents, rather than the offenders who are often unknown.

There is evidence that repeat offences are committed by the same offenders, because they feel less apprehensive in familiar situations and locations.

The report also recommends systematic victim education programs. A high proportion of households remain inadequately secured and many victims of personal crime still lack knowledge of personal safety.

The report also deals with another issue of importance - "fear of crime". Although inconclusive, the research found that repeat victimisation may have an effect on the fear of household crime.

It also points to an interesting insight into fear of violent crime. A large number of violent victimisations occurs inside the home, and offenders are usually known to the victims.

The research finds some support for the notion that the more frequent such victimisation, the less safe the victims would feel inside the home. This has significance for measuring fear of crime. Fear of crime usually is measured in terms of walking alone after dark, fear of crime inside homes is not considered.

To realise the full potential of victim surveys the report recommends the expansion of the ABS Crime and Safety Surveys. Currently, many of the high frequency repeat crimes such as theft, fraud, malicious damage to property/vandalism and drug offences are not included in the survey.