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Reduction in the use of firearms to commit homicide

Media Release

03 April 2003

In 2001-2002 there was a 25 per cent decrease in the use of firearms to commit homicide. This is one of the major findings from the National Homicide Monitoring Program (NHMP) annual report released today by the Australian Institute of Criminology.

In releasing the report, Dr Adam Graycar, AIC Director said "This decrease - the lowest number and proportion since NHMP data collection began in 1989 - shows us the importance and need for a continued monitoring regime to identify these shifts in trends".

Other findings include:

  • In 2001-2002, there were a total of 354 homicide incidents perpetrated by 375 alleged offenders, which resulted in the deaths of 381 victims.
  • Compared to 2000-2001, Australia recorded a 20 per cent increase in homicide victimisation. In 2001-2002, there were 381 victims of homicide compared to 317 victims in 2000-2001.
  • In 2001-2002 there has also been an increase in the number of multiple victim incidents. In 2000-2001 there were seven incidents involving multiple victims. During 2001-2002, there were 21 incidents involving multiple victims - 15 incidents with two victims, and six incidents with three victims.
  • In 2001-2002, there were 15 children under the age of one killed, representing the highest single age group of homicide victims. The second highest single age group of homicide victims was 35 years, with 13 victims.
  • Compared to previous years, a knife or some other sharp instrument was consistently the most common type of weapon used to commit homicide (36%). The next most common weapon/method was the use of assaultive force (25%).
  • Compared to last year, the proportion of family homicides (excluding intimates) has doubled (23% in 2001-2002 compared to 11% in 2000-2001). Two factors account for this change:
    • An increase in the death of children under five (mostly infant deaths); and
    • An increase in the incidence of triple homicides which mainly involved family members.