Australian Institute of Criminology

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Selected crime profiles

Homicide

The definition of homicide used by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) is the unlawful killing of another person. Homicide statistics discussed here include the following categories of offences:

  • murder - the wilful killing of a person either intentionally or with reckless indifference to life; and
  • manslaughter - the unlawful killing of a person caused:
    • without intent to kill, usually as a result of a careless, reckless or negligent act; or
    • intentionally but due to extreme provocation; or
    • when in a state of mind that impairs the capacity to understand or control one's actions.
  • There were 346 homicides in Australia in 2000; that is, two homicides per 100 000. This represents a reduction of 10% compared to 1999 (386).
  • Murder contributed 87% of the victims recorded in 2000. The remainder were victims of manslaughter.

Source: Reference 2.

Location of homicides

  • Of all homicides occurring in Australia in 2000, 62% took place in residential locations, with 47% in a private dwelling.

Figure 18 : Homicide, type of location, 2000



Figure 18

Source: Reference 6.

Victims of homicide

  • Fifty-nine per cent of victims were male.
  • Relative to 1999, in 2000 the number of male victims of homicide decreased by 17%, while the number of female victims increased by 6%.

Figure 19 : Age and gender of homicide victims, rate per 100 000 persons, 2000



Figure 19
  • In all age categories except the 10-14 age group, the risk of being a victim of homicide was higher for males than for females.
  • Males and females in the 25-44 age group were most at risk of being a homicide victim.

Source: References 2 and 4.

Trend in homicide

Figure 20 : Number of homicides by month, 1995-2000



Figure 20
  • The number of murders and manslaughters fluctuated on a monthly basis between 1995 and 2000. The spike in the murder figures in April 1996 is due to the Port Arthur tragedy.

Source: Reference 6.

Trend in firearm homicides

Figure 21 : Homicide involving firearms as a percentage of total homicide, 1915 to 1999



Figure 21
  • The percentage of homicides committed with a firearm continued its declining trend since 1969. In 1999, 17% of homicides involved firearms.

Source: Reference 3.

Assault (excluding sexual assault)

The ABS defines assault as the direct infliction of force, injury or violence upon a person, including attempts or threats.

  • In 2000 there were 141 124 assaults recorded by the police at a rate of 737 per 100 000 population, an increase of 5% from the number of victims recorded during 1999.

Source: Reference 2.

Location of assaults

Figure 22 : Assault, type of location, 2000



Figure 22
  • Assaults occurred more frequently in a residential location (41%), particularly in private dwellings (35%). There was an 8% increase in the number of assaults recorded in private dwellings in 2000 relative to 1999.
  • Thirty-nine per cent of assaults occurred in community locations, with assaults on street/footpaths accounting for 24% of all recorded assaults.
  • Twenty per cent of recorded assaults took place in other locations, including recreational facilities (9%).
  • This pattern remained stable between 1999 and 2000.

Source: References 2 and 6.

Victims of assault

  • Fifty-seven per cent of assault victims were male.
  • Relative to 1999, in 2000 the number of male and female victims of assault increased by 5% and 7% respectively.

Figure 23 : Age and gender of assault victims, rate per 100 000 persons, 2000



Figure 23
  • Consistent with patterns in previous years, males exhibited higher victimisation rates than females for all age categories.
  • Both males and females were most at risk of being a victim of assault while aged between 15 and 24.

Source: References 2 and 4.

Victim-offender relationship

Figure 24 : Assault victims, gender and relationship to offender, percentages, 2000



Figure 24
  • Thirty-seven per cent of male victims of assault knew the offender compared to 67% of female victims.
  • Assaults occurring against females were three times more likely to be perpetrated by a family member than those occurring against males.
  • In contrast, 40% of male victims were assaulted by strangers compared to only 16% of female victims.

Figure 25 : Assault, type of location and sex of victim, percentages, 2000

Figure 25
  • A large majority of male victims (72%) was assaulted in non-residential locations, whereas a majority of female victims (58%) was assaulted in residential premises.
Table 5 : Number and percentage of assault victims by age, gender and location, 2000
AgeResidentialAll other locations
MaleFemaleMaleFemale
Number
0-91 089781699344
10-14 1 1619653 6821 928
15-245 3308 51218 1198 797
25-345 6529 94616 3896 227
35-44 4 545 6 8049 2843 618
45 and over 4 4424 1037 1292 361
Not specified 5866511 969705
Total22 80531 76257 27123 980
Percentage
0-94.82.51.21.4
10-145.13.06.48.0
15-2423.426.831.6 36.7
25-3424.831.328.626.0
35-4419.921.416.215.1
45 and over19.512.912.49.8
Not specified2.62.03.42.9
Total100.0100.0100.0100.0
  • Assaults were more frequently committed in residential locations against:
    • males aged 0-9 years;
    • females aged 25-44 years; and
    • males aged 45 years and over.
  • On the other hand, males and females aged 10-14 years, and females aged 15-24 years, experienced a higher frequency of assaults in non-residential locations compared to other age groups.

Source: References 2 and 6.

Trend in assault

Figure 26 : Number of assaults, by month, 1995-2000



Figure 26
  • The number of assaults has grown by an average 7% each year between 1995 and 2000. This is almost six times the annual growth of the Australian population over the same period (upward trend was statistically significant, p<0.01).
  • Assault is seasonal. The number of recorded assault victims was often highest during late spring and the entire summer period.

Source: References 4 and 6.

Sexual assault

The ABS definition of sexual assault is a physical assault of a sexual nature, directed toward another person where that person:

  • does not give consent; or
  • gives consent as a result of intimidation or fraud; or
  • is legally deemed incapable of giving consent because of youth or temporary/permanent incapacity.

Sexual assault includes: rape, sexual assault, sodomy, buggery, oral sex, incest, carnal knowledge, unlawful sexual intercourse, indecent assault, and assault with intent to rape.

  • There were 15 630 victims of sexual assault recorded by the police in Australia in 2000, an increase of 11% from 1999.
  • There were about 82 victims of sexual assault per 100 000 population.

Source: Reference 2.

Location of sexual assaults

Figure 27 : Sexual assault, type of location, 2000



Figure 27
  • Of all recorded sexual assaults in Australia in 2000, 67% occurred in residential locations, particularly in private dwellings (61%).
  • Twenty-three per cent of sexual assaults occurred in community locations. Sexual assaults on street/footpaths accounted for 9% of all recorded sexual assaults.
  • Only 10% of recorded sexual assaults took place in other locations, including recreational facilities such as parks and ovals (5%).
  • This pattern remained relatively stable between 1999 and 2000.

Source: References 2 and 6.

Victims of sexual assault

  • Seventy-nine per cent of sexual assault victims were female.
  • In 2000 the number of male and female victims of sexual assault increased by 17% and 9% respectively, relative to 1999.

Figure 28 : Age and gender of sexual assault victims, rate per 100 000 persons, 2000

Figure 28
  • Sexual assault is more prevalent among young people under the age of 25 years.
  • In each age group, females were more likely to be victims of sexual assault than males.
  • Consistent with 1999, in 2000 both males and females in the 10-14 age range were most at risk of being sexually assaulted. There were 13% more victims recorded in this age group between 1999 and 2000.
  • Persons aged 0-9 years recorded the largest increase in their rate of victimisation between 1999 and 2000. The rate increased from 102 victims per 100 000 persons in 1999, to 125 in 2000.

Source: References 1, 2 and 4.

Victim-offender relationship

Figure 29 : Gender of sexual assault victims and relationship to offender, percentages, 2000

Figure 29
  • The majority of sexual assaults (61%) were committed by a person known to the victim.
  • One in four sexual assaults were perpetrated by family members.
  • In about 38% of sexual assaults the offender was a non-family member known to the victim.
  • Almost 16% of sexual assaults were committed by strangers. Females were more likely to be assaulted by a stranger, compared to males.

Figure 30 : Sexual assault, type of location and victim-offender relationship, percentages, 2000 *



Figure 30

* Data for New South Wales not included.
  • Sexual assaults occurring at a residential location were most likely to be have been perpetrated by a known non-family member (38%) or family member (28%).
  • In contrast, over one-third of sexual assaults committed at other locations involved an offender unknown to the victim.

Source: Reference 2.

Trend in sexual assault

Figure 31 : Number of sexual assault victims, by month, 1995-2000



Figure 31
  • Sexual assaults have increased by an average 0.1% each month since 1995 (upward trend was statistically significant, p<0.01).
  • The number of sexual assaults was typically highest during spring and summer.

Source: Reference 6.

Robbery

Robbery, as defined by the ABS, is the unlawful taking of property, without consent, accompanied by force or threat of force. Robbery victims can be persons or organisations.

Types of robbery

Robbery is divided into the following two categories of offences.

  • Armed robbery: This is robbery conducted with use of a weapon. A weapon is any object used to cause fear or injury. It also includes imitation weapons and implied weapons; for example, where a weapon is not seen by the victim but the offender claims to possess one.
  • Unarmed robbery: This is robbery conducted without the use of a weapon.

Figure 32 : Types of robbery, 2000



Figure 32
  • Police recorded 23 314 victims of robbery during 2000, with 122 per 100 000 population. This represents a 3% increase on the number recorded in 1999.
  • This increase was due to a 5% increase in the number of unarmed robberies. The number of armed robberies remained relatively constant over this period.
  • Of the incidents recorded during 2000, 59% were unarmed robberies, 35% were committed with a weapon other than a firearm, and 6% were committed with a firearm.

Source: Reference 2.

Trend in robbery

Figure 33 : Number of robberies, by month, 1995-2000



Figure 33
  • Unarmed robbery has increased by an average 0.5% each month since 1995 (upward trend was statistically significant, p<0.01).
  • Armed robbery increased by 2.4% per month between June 1995 and June 1998 (upward trend was statistically significant, p<0.01) then declined until January 1999, and has remained stable thereafter.
  • The proportion of total robbery accounted for by armed robbery increased from 39% in June 1995 to 48% in June 1998. Since then, armed robberies have accounted for about 42% of total robberies each month, on average.

Source: Reference 6.

Armed robbery

  • There were 9 474 armed robberies recorded during 2000. This represents a 0.2% increase from 1999.

Source: Reference 2.

Figure 34 : Armed robbery, type of location, 2000

Figure 34
  • Consistent with previous years, in 2000 armed robbery was concentrated in retail premises (46%).
  • Thirty-six per cent took place in community locations, with a large proportion being committed on street/footpaths (24%).

Source: References 2 and 6.

Figure 35 : Victims of armed robbery, 2000

Figure 35
  • Thirty-eight per cent of armed robberies were committed against organisations. This represents a 3% decline compared to 1999.
  • A person (male or female) was the victim of 61% of armed robberies. Males were more than twice as likely to be robbed than females.

Source: References 2 and 6.

Figure 36 : Age and gender of armed robbery victims, rate per 100 000 persons, 2000

Figure 36
  • In all age categories, males were more at risk of being a victim of armed robbery than were females.
  • Males aged between 15 and 24 were at least twice as likely to become a victim of armed robbery than persons in any other age category.
  • Among males, the rate for persons aged 15-34 years increased between 1999 and 2000, whereas it remained stable for the other age groups.
  • Among females, those aged 20 to 24 years had the highest risk of victimisation.
  • Between 1999 and 2000, rates for females declined across all age groups, except for the 20-24-year age group.

Source: References 2 and 4.

Unarmed robbery

  • There were 13 840 unarmed robberies recorded during 2000. This represents a 5% increase from the incidence in 1999.

Source: Reference 2.

Figure 37 : Unarmed robbery, type of location, 2000

Figure 37
  • Seventy-one per cent of unarmed robberies occurred in community locations, including 48% on street/footpaths and 15% in a transport location.
  • Fourteen per cent of unarmed robberies occurred in a retail location (armed robbery: 46%).

Source: Reference 6.

Figure 38 : Victims of unarmed robbery, 2000



Figure 38
  • Ninety-two per cent of unarmed robbery victims were persons (as opposed to organisations), compared to 61% of armed robberies.
  • Males comprised the majority of victims (60%). A similar trend was observed in 1999 (58%).
  • Only 7% of victims of unarmed robbery were organisations (armed robbery: 38%). This represents a 1% decline relative to 1999.

Source: References 2 and 6.

Figure 39 : Age and gender of unarmed robbery victims, rate per 100 000 persons, 2000

Figure 39
  • Compared to females, males had a higher risk of unarmed robbery, except for persons aged 35 years and over, among whom males and females experienced similar risks.
  • Males aged 15 to 19 were the most likely victims of unarmed robbery. This group experienced an increase in the rate of unarmed robbery from 353 per 100 000 in 1999, to 415 per 100 000 in 2000.
  • The rate remained stable for all other gender age groups.

Source: References 2 and 4.

Unlawful entry with intent

Unlawful entry with intent (UEWI) is defined by the ABS as the unlawful entry of a structure with the intent to commit an offence. UEWI offences include burglary, break and enter and some stealing.

Types of UEWI

UEWI is divided into the following two categories of offences.

  • UEWI-property: This is UEWI involving the taking of property from a structure.
  • UEWI-other: This is UEWI where no property is taken from a structure.
  • In 2000, there were 436 865 incidents of UEWI recorded by the police in Australia, an increase of 5% on the number recorded in 1999.
  • The rate of UEWI increased from 2 196 victims per 100 000 population in 1999 to 2 281 victims per 100 000 population in 2000.
  • The rate of unlawful entry at residential locations increased from 3 811 per 100 000 households in 1999 to 3 862 per 100 000 households in 2000.

Source: Reference 2.

Location of unlawful entry with intent

Figure 40 : Unlawful entry with intent, type of location, 2000

Figure 40
  • Sixty-six per cent of UEWI offences occurred in residential locations, in particular, private dwellings (56%).
  • Ten per cent of recorded UEWI offences took place in community locations such as educational facilities (6%).
  • Twenty-four per cent of UEWI offences were committed in other locations, including retail premises (11%).
  • UEWI offences occurring in administrative/ professional locations increased by 19% between 1999 and 2000.

Source: Reference 6.

Trend in unlawful entry with intent

Figure 41 : Number of unlawful entries with intent, by month, 1995-2000

Figure 41
  • The number of UEWI incidents has increased by an average 0.2% each month since January 1995 (upward trend was statistically significant, p<0.01).
  • On average, UEWI incidents involving the taking of property accounted for about 78% of all UEWI, a pattern that has remained consistent over the last six years.

Source: Reference 6.

Motor vehicle theft

Motor vehicle theft is the taking of a motor vehicle unlawfully or without permission. It excludes damaging and tampering or interfering with motor vehicles. The theft of motor vehicle parts or contents is included under the offence category 'other theft'. The term 'motor vehicle' refers to cars, motorcycles, campervans and trucks.

  • Police recorded 139 094 motor vehicles stolen in 2000, with 726 victims per 100 000 population. This represents a 7% increase on the number recorded in 1999.
  • Motor vehicle thefts averaged one every four minutes across Australia in 2000.
  • One motor vehicle was stolen for every 90 registered vehicles.

Source: Reference 2.

Location of motor vehicle theft

Figure 42 : Motor vehicle theft, type of location, 2000

Figure 42
  • The majority of motor vehicle thefts occurred in community locations (62%), in particular street/footpaths (41%) and car parks (12%).
  • Retail locations accounted for 14% of motor vehicle thefts in 2000.
  • Nineteen per cent of motor vehicle thefts occurred at a residential location.
  • The number of motor vehicle thefts occurring in car parks and on street/footpaths increased in 2000 by 14% and 8% respectively, relative to 1999.
  • The number of motor vehicle thefts occurring at retail locations continued its increasing trend in 2000. An additional 1 631 motor vehicle thefts were recorded in this type of location between 1999 and 2000, an increase of 10%.

Source: References 2 and 6.

Trend in motor vehicle theft

Figure 43 : Number of motor vehicle thefts, by month, 1995-2000



Figure 43
  • Motor vehicle theft has remained stable since January 1995 (the observed upward trend is not statistically significant).

Source: Reference 6.

Other theft

The ABS defines 'other theft' (stealing) as the taking of another person's property with the intention of permanently depriving the owner of the property illegally and without permission, but without force, threat of force, use of coercive measures, deceit or having gained unlawful entry to any structure even if the intent was to commit theft.

This offence includes such crimes as pickpocketing, bagsnatching, stealing, theft from a motor vehicle, theft of motor vehicle parts/accessories/petrol, stealing of stock/domestic animals, and theft of non-motorised vehicles/boats/aircraft/bicycles. It is the largest of all the crime categories included in the national statistics.

  • A total of 674 813 victims of 'other theft' was recorded by the police in 2000, with 3 523 victims per 100 000 population in Australia. This represents a 10% increase from the number recorded in 1999 (612 559).

Source: Reference 2.

Location of other theft

Figure 44 : Other theft, type of location, 2000



Figure 44
  • One-quarter of thefts took place in a retail location.
  • Thirty-seven per cent of incidents took place in community locations, with 19% on a street/footpath and 8% in a car park. The number of other thefts occurring in a car park increased by 27% between 1999 and 2000.
  • In 25% of cases, thefts occurred in a residential location, comprising 9% from private dwellings.

Source: References 2 and 6.

Trend in other theft

Figure 45 : Number of other thefts by month, 1995-2000



Figure 45
  • During 2000, there were 56 234 victims of theft per month. This represents an increase of 38% over the monthly average recorded in 1995 (upward trend was statistically significant, p<0.01).

Source: Reference 6.