Australian Institute of Criminology

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Crime - what's really going on?

Media Release

21 February 1999

Australia needs much better crime statistics to make Australia's anti-crime strategies more effective, said Australian Institute of Criminology Director, Dr Adam Graycar, today.

"Each week new sets of crime statistics are released by different agencies. But variations in collection methods mean they produce conflicting, confusing trends.

"Although Australia's property crime rates have remained fairly constant over the past five years, they are higher than in the USA and much of Europe, particularly for burglary and vehicle theft.

"Whatever the statistics tell us, however, we should not accept with complacency an Australia-wide figure of 48 burglaries and 15 vehicle thefts every hour", he said

As for violent crimes, while assault and robbery have increased in the past five years, sexual assault has remained constant, and our low homicide rate has remained relatively unchanged for a century and is now in fact at its lowest level in a decade.

"We'll be examining these issues at our 3rd National Outlook Symposium on Crime next month. We'll also be looking at the community's perception of safety", Dr Graycar said.

New figures just released by the Productivity Commission show that of all Australians:

  • 93% feel safe or very safe in their house during the day;
  • 80% feel safe or very safe in their house at night;
  • 68% feel safe on public transport during the day;
  • 21% feel safe on public transport at night;
  • 88% feel safe walking/jogging during the day; and
  • 38% feel safe walking/jogging at night.

"Of course, safety depends on location and other environmental and social conditions, not on conflicting statistics which appear in media", said Dr Graycar.

Another matter to be examined at the National Outlook Symposium on Crime is the enormous variation in crime rates around the country.

"Why does the rate of armed robbery range from 9.5 per 100 000 in Tasmania to 79.3 in NSW? Why is the rate in NSW 4.3 times that of Victoria?", asked Dr Graycar. "Why assault increased by 44 per cent in NSW, but only 2.8 per cent in Victoria?"

The National Outlook Symposium on Crime will be held in Canberra 22-23 March.