Australian Institute of Criminology

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Unsolved homicides more likely to occur during other crimes

Media Release

03 December 2001

This is one of the key findings from a paper released today by the Australian Institute of Criminology.

The study examined factors that differentiate solved and unsolved homicides in Australia. It also canvassed the perspectives of police homicide investigators in order to determine what they consider to be important factors in solving a given homicide.

The study found that unsolved homicides were more likely than solved homicides to:

  • occur in the course of other crime, such as a robbery or a break and enter
  • occur in a non-residential premise
  • involve the use of a firearm, and
  • involve a single non-Indigenous victim aged 30 years or older who was in the labour force at the time of the incident.

"The Australian Institute of Criminology, through its National Homicide Monitoring Program (NHMP), continues to provide police, policy-makers and the public with timely research on homicide and its subsets", said Dr Adam Graycar AIC Director. "This paper follows this tradition and introduces a new element into research - the view of the practitioner", he said.

The study also found that there were two main issues regarding the solvability of homicides. The first was dependent on the crime itself. For example, crimes committed by strangers with an unknown motive were more difficult to solve. And the other was related to police responses to the crime, such as having experienced detectives who were able to collect and analyse the evidence, and who had the time to work on the case.

The NHMP indicates that the rate of unsolved homicides in Australia remains stable at around 12 per cent.