Australian Institute of Criminology

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Crime in regional Australia

Media Release

13 June 2001

In a study released today by the Australian Institute of Criminology it was found that decreases in agricultural employment were associated with increases in both property and violent crime in rural Australia.

"Where service industries replace agriculture there are declines in the rates of both property and violent offences, however, where there are shifts toward manufacturing there are often increases in crime", said Dr Graycar, AIC Director.

Crime rates in small and medium-sized towns that are near a major service centre are significantly affected by changes in economic conditions (rising as agriculture declines, rising if manufacturing increases, but declining if service industries come to the locality).

Increases in the share of manufacturing in local employment lead to increased rates of violent crime.

Using data for Local Government Areas in the mainland eastern states, this study:

  • Confirms previous findings that crime rates are lower in localities that are both residentially and socially stable.
  • Shows that some rural localities tend to have a large share of criminal activity, while others tend to be relatively crime-free.

This paper is the third in a series devoted to the study of crime in regional Australia. It explores further the effect that interactions between size, location, economic transformation and social attributes have on local crime rates

This study highlights that crime prevention strategies for rural Australia must be very specific to the locality in question, and there is a strong need for localised crime control. It also highlights the importance of understanding how the crime patterns of local areas relate to one another. Further research from the Australian Institute of Criminology will focus on understanding how crime patterns of local areas relate to one another.