Australian Institute of Criminology

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Agency overview

Introduction

The Australian Institute of Criminology (AIC) has served as Australia’s national research and knowledge centre on crime and justice for more than 40 years, undertaking and promulgating new research, monitoring and analysing crime trends, and providing advice to inform legislative, policy and practice change.

The independent status of the AIC has meant its output is not only robust, but trusted by government, law enforcement and justice agencies across the nation and internationally. Much of the AIC’s work falls under the Commonwealth Government’s strategic research priorities, in particular, the priority themes of ‘living in a changing environment’, ‘promoting population health and wellbeing’ and ‘securing Australia’s place in a changing world’.

Throughout 2013–14, the AIC continued to build on its strong relationships with Australian governments and law and justice organisations in Commonwealth, state and territory jurisdictions. This was achieved through the provision of research, analysis and advice, with the AIC frequently undertaking research projects in partnership or under contract to meet partner agencies’ needs. State and territory agencies continued to provide substantial in-kind support to the research undertaken by the AIC through the provision of crime data.

The AIC also continued to maintain and strengthen relationships with universities and research organisations, and continued to enter into research and event partnerships with academia to enhance criminological knowledge and inform policy.

The AIC provides access to information for a broad range of stakeholders, disseminating research findings and information about the nature and extent of crime, emerging crime trends and effective responses to promote justice and reduce crime, through the AIC publication program, the AIC’s website, social media, library and information services, and in an annual series of national conferences and roundtables on key crime and violence issues.

The Criminology Research Grants (CRG) program is managed by the AIC, with funding contributed by the Commonwealth and state and territory governments. The Director of the AIC approves a series of research grants each year, taking into account the recommendations of the Criminology Research Advisory Council. The program funds research that has relevance to jurisdictional policy in the areas of law, police, judiciary, corrections, mental health, social welfare, education and related fields.

Finally, the AIC manages the Australian Crime and Violence Prevention Awards (ACVPA), which are designed to reward good practice in the prevention or reduction of violence and other types of crime in Australia. The awards also encourage public initiatives at the grassroots level and assist governments to identify and develop practical projects that will reduce violence and other types of crime in the community.

In 2013–14, the AIC again met all of its key performance targets (see Table 2).

Minister, portfolio and Director

The AIC is part of the Attorney-General’s portfolio. The Minister for Justice, the Hon Michael Keenan MP, has ministerial responsibility for the AIC. Dr Adam Tomison has been the Director of the AIC since July 2009; since 1 July 2011, he has also been the Chief Executive of the AIC.

Outcome and program objectives

The AIC has a single outcome, as stated in the 2013–14 Portfolio Budget Statement, which is to:

Inform crime and justice policy and practice in Australia by undertaking, funding and disseminating policy-relevant research of national significance; and through the generation of a crime and justice evidence base and national knowledge centre.

The main focus of the AIC is on the conduct of research that is relevant to crime and justice policy and practice. As a national knowledge centre, the AIC disseminates both its own research, as well as other national and international information relevant to crime and justice. The AIC also funds criminological research through the CRG program.

Outcomes are achieved by:

  • undertaking impartial and contemporary policy-relevant research;
  • keeping the Minister fully informed of the AIC’s outcomes and publications;
  • working cooperatively with the Attorney-General’s Department (AGD), portfolio agencies, state and territory criminal justice agencies, and other stakeholders;
  • producing and disseminating crime and justice research, and other information to policymakers, practitioners, the academic community and the general public across Australia and internationally;
  • maintaining and producing research information of value to key stakeholders from ongoing monitoring programs and other research data collections; and
  • determining priorities and making grants under the CRG program in consultation with Australian governments.

Objectives

AIC’s objectives are to:

  • Undertake impartial and policy-relevant research of the highest standard on crime and criminal justice.
  • Work cooperatively with AGD, portfolio and other federal agencies, and state and territory government agencies in the AIC’s role as the Commonwealth Government’s national research centre on crime and justice.
  • Administer an effective and efficient annual CRG program, which results in policy-relevant research of value to the nation.
  • Actively disseminate research findings to policymakers, practitioners and the general public across Australia and internationally in a timely manner.
  • Provide effective corporate services that not only deliver on the governance and legislative obligations of the organisation, but that support and enhance the delivery of the preceding objectives.
Table 1: AIC submissions to parliament and government
2013–14 financial year (1 July 2013 to 30 June 2014)
Date Title Submission/hearing
25 November 2013 Victorian Parliament, Law Reform Drugs and Crime Prevention Committee, Inquiry into Methamphetamine use Committee hearings
10 February 2014 Victorian Parliament, Law Reform Drugs and Crime Prevention Committee, Inquiry into Methamphetamine use Committee hearings
4 August 2014 Victorian Parliament, Law Reform Drugs and Crime Prevention Committee, Inquiry into Methamphetamine use Committee hearings
12 September 2013 Response to ABS Draft Conceptual Framework for Cybercrime Submission

2013–14 HIGHLIGHTS

Research

New research

The AIC commenced several major pieces of commissioned research in 2013–14, conducting work with (among others):

  • Commonwealth AGD;
  • CrimTrac;
  • the Parliament of Victoria;
  • Tasmanian Government;
  • the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse;
  • Corrections Victoria; and
  • The Northern Institute (TNI), Charles Darwin University.

After a short hiatus in data collection in 2013 to enable a review and program restructure, the Drug Use Monitoring in Australia (DUMA) program was streamlined into a more effective and sustainable research structure. The DUMA quarterly collection of data from offenders in police watchhouses around Australia then continued on in 2013–14.

Research restructuring

This year, the AIC took the opportunity to restructure its research teams, in part as a result of the departure of some senior research staff. The main changes involved the formation of three teams out of the existing Violence and Other Serious Crime Monitoring, and Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Responses teams. The resultant team structure comprises four teams:

Crime prevention and evaluation research

This team focuses on producing high-quality evaluations of strategies to prevent and reduce crime, and research that aims to contribute to the knowledge base on effective crime prevention policy and practice.

Criminal justice monitoring and analysis

This team undertakes research on criminal justice processes and oversees AIC’s custody monitoring work, including deaths in custody, police custody survey and DUMA.

Transnational and organised crime

This team focuses on economic crime, consumer fraud, identity crime and cybercrime, with an emphasis on the transnational and organised crime aspects of these topics.

Violence and exploitation

This team focuses on violent crime, human trafficking and slavery, and victimisation more generally. This includes undertaking primary research, as well as overseeing two of the AIC’s monitoring programs—the National Homicide Monitoring Program (NHMP) and the National Armed Robbery Monitoring Program (NARMP).

Thailand Institute of Justice Memorandum of Understanding

In May 2014, Ambassador Adisak Panupong, the Executive Director of the Thailiand Institute of Justice (TIJ) and AIC Director, Dr Adam Tomison, strengthened the relationship between the two national Institutes with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) regarding research and library resources.

Highlight 2: Closer ties with the Thailand Institute of Justice

In May 2014, Executive Director of the TIJ, Ambassador Adisak Panupong and AIC Director, Dr Adam Tomison, strengthened the relationship between the two national criminal justice research institutes with the signing of an MOU.

The visit of Her Royal Highness Princess Bajrakitiyabha Mahidol of the Kingdom of Thailand to the AIC in 2012 launched this constructive relationship between the AIC and TIJ.

Dr Tomison noted that this latest visit was the ‘culmination of two years of discussions with the Thailand Institute of Justice towards the development an effective partnership between the agencies.’

Ambassador Adisak was joined on his visit by the Director of the Office of External Relations and Policy Coordination, Mr Vongthep Arthakaivalvatee and policy advisor, Ms Elena Lopardi. The TIJ delegation also met with AIC staff to discuss issues around trafficking, child justice and crime prevention, and program evaluation.

The TIJ was established by royal decree in 2011 and is currently developing its research capacity and information systems, as part of its brief to strengthen criminological research and crime and justice research activities.

The MOU, among other matters, lays out a pathway towards research collaboration between the two institutes and possible future staff secondments.

Events and hearings

Major conferences

In 2013–14, the AIC was involved in running four major international and national conferences:

  • 2nd AIC International and Serious and Organised Crime (ISOC) Conference in partnership with the Australian Crime Commission (ACC) (Brisbane, July 2013);
  • 13th Australasian Conference on Child Abuse and Neglect (ACCAN) in partnership with the Victorian Department of Human Services (Melbourne, November 2013);
  • Homicide and Precursors in collaboration with Griffith University (Brisbane, February 2014); and
  • 2nd AIC Crime Prevention and Communities Conference in partnership with the Victorian Community Crime Prevention Unit, Victorian Department of Justice (Melbourne, June 2014).

World Crime Forum in conjunction with the International Society of Criminology

As part of marking the 75th anniversary since the formation of the International Society of Criminology in 2013, the AIC was invited to host the Australian World Crime Forum to discuss various key challenges for criminal justice and criminology all over the globe, and to propose new solutions. World crime forums were held in Montreal, Washington, Sao Paulo, San Sebastian, Bologna, Johannesburg, Seoul and Leuven. The Australian Forum was chaired by AIC Director Dr Adam Tomison, with a panel of eminent Australian criminologists.

Victorian Parliamentary hearings on methamphetamine, February 2014

The Victorian Parliament’s Law Reform, Drugs and Crime Prevention Committee held three days of their Parliamentary Committee inquiry into the supply and use of methamphetamines in Victoria. The Committee moved the hearings of what has become commonly known as the ‘Ice Inquiry’ to the AIC’s meeting rooms in order to capture evidence from national law enforcement, academic and other agency expertise available in the nation’s capital. The AIC is working as a consultant to frame the research evidence in the Committee’s report, which will be released in late 2014.

Presentation of a workshop at the UNODC 13th Crime Congress

The AIC is leading the development of a workshop at the 13th UN Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice, which will be held in April 2015 in Doha, Qatar. The workshop is designed to explore the topic Public Contribution to Crime Prevention and Raising Awareness of Criminal Justice: Experiences and Lessons. It is being prepared in partnership with the UNODC, members of the UN’s Network of Program Institutes and with some assistance from agencies within the Commonwealth Attorney-General’s portfolio.

Anniversary of the founding of the AIC Library service

This year marked the 40th anniversary of the JV Barry Library, opened by the Hon. Mr Justice McClemens on 12 February 1974 and followed on from the formal dinner held in 2013 to mark 40 years since the opening of the AIC in 1973.

Corporate services and accountability

Changes in administrative legislation

The AIC, together with all Commonwealth Government agencies administered under the Financial Management and Accountability Act 1997 (FMA Act), transitioned to the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 (PGPA Act) on 1 July 2014. The Corporate Services team spent considerable time during 2013–14 managing this transition, which included:

  • management of consequential amendments to the Criminology Research Act 1971;
  • review of PGPA Act and Rules, and implementation of changes to AIC policy, procedures and systems;
  • review and update Chief Executive Instructions from 1 July 2014, renamed the Accountable Authority Instructions (AAIs);
  • review and update of Financial Delegations and procedures for the commitment and expenditure of public money;
  • assessment of reporting implications in the 2013–14 Financial Statements and annual report;
  • review of changes to the AIC Audit Committee Charter; and
  • communication to Executive, Audit Committee, managers and staff regarding impacts of the PGPA Act.

The transition to the PGPA Act continues throughout 2014–15 in accordance with the release of policy and guidance materials from the Department of Finance.

Research overview

Research relevant to policy and practice

Research undertaken by the AIC informs policy and practice in the crime and criminal justice sectors through:

  • monitoring trends in crime and the criminal justice system;
  • building knowledge of offending and victimisation;
  • identifying emerging or changing criminal activity; and
  • building an evidence base for an effective criminal justice system and crime prevention.

The AIC designs and conducts research projects and funds research through the CRG program, which investigates or highlights particular criminal justice issues of national or Commonwealth Government interest. Although research topics and methodologies vary, the AIC’s emphasis is always on providing a policy-relevant evidence base.

While the AIC’s research is primarily funded by the Commonwealth Government, individual projects may be funded by the Commonwealth Government (or agencies), state and territory governments (or agencies), or a range of academic and non-government organisations.

The AIC receives significant in-kind support from state and territory governments for long-term monitoring programs and research projects. This is often in the form of access to, or provision of, data. The Australian state and territory governments, together with the Commonwealth Government (who makes a contribution through the AIC’s core appropriation) also fund the CRG program each year.

Research program

The AIC conducts timely and policy-relevant research on crime and justice issues for the Commonwealth Government and other key stakeholders. The strategic priorities of its research are to:

  • provide information on, and analysis of, the criminal justice system and the causes, control and prevention of crime;
  • develop innovative products and services, including consultancy, in the field of criminological research and information to better meet the needs of clients and stakeholders; and
  • anticipate the needs of major stakeholders by conducting research into emerging areas of crime, including maintaining the ability to respond quickly to the needs of government.

Research activities within the AIC fall into two main categories:

  • national monitoring programs; and
  • crime and justice projects.

Box 1: AIC investment in research that meets Strategic Research Priorities

The National Research Priorities were replaced in early 2013–14 with a set of five new Strategic Research Priorities. AIC research falls mainly under the new priority Securing Australia’s Place in a Changing World. There are two key elements to this priority:

Improve cyber security for all Australians—AIC research identifies ways to improve cyber security for individuals, organisations, businesses, government and national infrastructure.

Manage the flow of goods, information, money and people across our national and international boundaries.

AIC research identifies risks and prevention strategies in areas including:

cyber security, international crime, and international and transnational legal and regulatory frameworks.

The AIC will also contribute to two other priorities:

Living in a Changing Environment—specifically in the area of:

Manage risk and capture opportunities for sustainable natural and human systems

and Promoting Population Health and Wellbeing in the areas of

Maximise Social and Economic Participation in Society and Improve the Health and Wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People.

AIC research has and will continue to identify strategies to maximise social and economic participation, particularly in relation to key life stages, intergenerational disparities and socioeconomic disadvantage.

National monitoring programs

National monitoring programs are core research activities of the AIC. They involve the collection and analysis of specialised crime and criminal justice data not available elsewhere. Most monitoring programs release a biennial report analysing trends and characteristics revealed by the data. These reports are widely used to inform whole of government reporting on the crime and justice sector, and to support policy initiatives across all levels of government.

National monitoring and reporting is currently undertaken in the areas of:

  • human trafficking and slavery;
  • deaths in custody;
  • fraud against the Commonwealth;
  • drug use and the socio-demographics of police detainees;
  • homicide; and
  • armed robbery.
Crime and justice research projects

Crime and justice projects are limited duration, major research analyses undertaken using a range of primary and secondary data sources. In 2013–14, research undertaken by the AIC included:

  • examining the prevalence of identity crime among the general public;
  • commencing an evaluation of the Australian Cybercrime Online Reporting Network with CrimTrac;
  • research on child sexual abuse legislation for the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse;
  • reviewing the evaluation practices of the Commonwealth Government’s Countering Violent Extremism Sub-Committee;
  • examining criminal misuse of the domain name system;
  • estimating the short-term costs of imprisonment and community corrections in Victoria;
  • evaluating a preventing violence against women program in Victoria;
  • evaluating changes to community corrections orders in Victoria;
  • examining police responses to dealing with intoxicated offenders;
  • evaluating the effectiveness of drug and alcohol programs for offenders;
  • examining links between child exploitation material and child contact offending; and
  • conducting a Safe Streets audit in the Northern Territory.

Communications and information services

As a key part of the AIC’s role as Australia’s knowledge centre on crime and justice, the AIC seeks to promote justice and reduce crime by developing world-standard research and information collection, and effectively disseminating policy-relevant research of national significance.

Communications

The Communications team ensures that new research and information is provided to AIC stakeholders, criminal justice practitioners and the general public. It also facilitates the communication, transfer and adoption of findings into policy and further research. This is achieved by producing high-quality publications, such as the peer-reviewed Research and Public Policy series and Trends & Issues in Crime and Criminal Justice (see Appendix 1), as well as other research and policy-relevant materials. In addition, the Communications team develops and manages key dissemination platforms such as the AIC website, conferences and other events, as well as mainstream media and social media.

Information services

The AIC hosts a substantial collection of criminal justice and related materials. The collection is housed in the AIC’s JV Barry Library and has been made available online through the AIC website and via the Computerised Information from National Criminological Holdings (CINCH) electronic database, to inform and assist in the development of evidence-based policy and programs.

The JV Barry Library also provides information and research support services to AIC researchers, academics, policymakers, practitioners and the general public. Its links, via a range of information service and library networks, connect AIC staff and stakeholders to a complete repository of specialist criminological resources in the most efficient manner.

Corporate services

Corporate services provides substantive functions to deliver AIC outcomes, as well as the more traditional corporate support services, as detailed in the following sections.

Financial management

The AIC’s financial services include:

  • internal and external financial reporting, budget development and management, and project management and reporting;
  • risk management and audit, including strategic risk identification and remediation, oversight of the outsourced internal audit activity, support to the Audit Committee and compliance with the Commonwealth Fraud Control Guidelines;
  • procurement, contracts and legal, including implementation of legislative and compliance frameworks such as the Commonwealth Procurement Guidelines and insurance; and
  • coordinating, developing and streamlining new PGPA Act requirements including the AAIs.
Human resource management and administration

Human resource responsibilities at the AIC include:

  • strategic workforce planning and management including recruitment, coordination and facilitation of training and development, and the staff performance development scheme;
  • coordination of the outsourced payroll services provider;
  • implementation of industrial legislative obligations including negotiation of the enterprise agreement;
  • development, implementation and monitoring of human resources policies and procedures including liaison with the Staff Consultative Committee; and
  • monitoring and review of workplace health and safety issues.

Administrative activities include:

  • administration of the CRG, National Drug Law Enforcement Research Fund (NDLERF) and ACVPA grants programs;
  • secretariat services provided to the ACVPA Board, NDLERF Board and the Australian and New Zealand Society of Criminology;
  • records and information management, including implementation of digital records management;
  • management of intellectual property, responses to parliamentary questions and ministerial correspondence; and
  • general and essential support, including facilities and security management, and travel administration.
Information and communications technology

The AIC runs a stable and secure information and communications technology (ICT) network in accordance with Commonwealth Government Protective Security Policy Framework (PSPF) and related information security requirements.

Information and communication technology responsibilities at the AIC include:

  • ICT network and infrastructure maintenance;
  • network and hardware solutions development and implementation;
  • software maintenance and management;
  • management of telephone services include VOIP transition;
  • maintenance and development of videoconference solutions and capability;
  • website hosting and support. In addition to the AIC’s website, support and/or hosting are provided on a fee-for-service basis to other organisations, including NDLERF and Crime Stoppers Australia;
  • management of the agency transition to Government Gateway services;
  • monitoring of the ICT asset management and replacement program; and
  • testing and ensuring the suitability and reliability of ICT disaster recovery.
Table 2: KPI targets
Target Outcome
100 percent of Trends & Issues in Crime and Criminal Justice papers and Research and Public Policy series papers are blind peer reviewed. This ensures the quality of the research outputs by the Institute Achieved
Reports produced for each of the monitoring programs are issued according to schedule (eg annually, biennially) Achieved
23 peer reviewed Trends & Issues in Crime and Criminal Justice papers and Research and Public Policy series papers published Achieved
38 other publications (including Research in Practice papers, Technical and Background papers, Brief, journal articles, consultancy reports etc) Exceeded
At least 10 roundtables and other forums held Exceeded
>90% satisfaction of stakeholders with research (according to project mid-term and/or completion survey) Achieved
Lodgement of research datasets and codebook at the completion of projects Achieved
Unqualified audit on end-of-year Financial Statements Achieved
Operate within budget approved by Director Achieved
Implementation of Government 2.0 measures Exceeded

Figure 1: AIC Organisational Chart

AIC Organisational Chart