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Chapter 3: Crime victimisation

Prior to 2009, information relating to the experience of crime victimisation in Australia was obtained through the ABS publication Crime and Safety Survey. Data presented in this chapter are derived from the newer ABS publication Crime Victimisation, Australia, first published in 2010. As such, data contained in earlier editions of Australian crime: Facts & figures (prior to the 2010 edition) are not comparable with those reported below.

The majority of industrialised countries conduct crime victimisation surveys to estimate the frequency of certain crimes and the proportion reported to the police. These data are used to supplement police statistics and are particularly useful for examining crimes that have low rates of reporting to police, such as sexual assault. Crime Victimisation, Australia provides annual information that pertains to personal and household experiences of crime including repeat victimisation, reporting of incidents to police and perceived neighbourhood problems. Information on Australians’ feelings of safety in their neighbourhood was not available in 2009–10.

Household and personal victimisation

Crime Victimisation, Australia distinguishes between household and personal crime. Household crimes include those crimes in which the household (a group of persons resident in a private dwelling and sharing common facilities) is considered the victim of the crime. These include home break-in, attempted break-ins and MVTs. For personal crimes, it is the individual who is considered the victim of the crime. Personal crimes include robbery, assault and sexual assault.

Source: Reference 17

Figure 35: Reported experiences of household crime, 2008–09 and 2009–10 (%)

Reported experiences of household crime, 2008–09 and 2009–10 (%)

N2009–10=8,425,400

N2008–09=8,189,500

Note: The figures reported in the previous edition of Australian crime: Facts & figures were incorrect. Figure 35 reflects the amended figures

  • The proportion of households that reported experiencing the crimes of MVT, theft from a motor vehicle, attempted break-ins and ‘other’ theft did not change between 2008–09 and 2009–10.
  • The proportion of households surveyed that reported being the victim of a break-in increased by one percentage point over the preceding 12 months. Conversely, the proportion that reported experiences of malicious property damage decreased by one percentage point over the same time period.

Source: Reference 17

Figure 36: Experiences of repeat victimisation for household crimes, 2009–10 (%)

Experiences of repeat victimisation for household crimes, 2009–10 (%)

  • The proportion of households that reported experiencing repeat victimisations followed similar patterns across all categories of household crimes. In all cases, the majority reported experiencing only a single incident of household crime, ranging from 93 percent for MVT, to 82 percent for break-ins, to 78 percent for attempted break-in and ‘other’ theft.
  • Three or more incidents of household crime were most common for offences including malicious property damage (9%), attempted break-in (8%) and ‘other’ theft (8%).

Source: Reference 17

Figure 37: Persons over the age of 15 years experiencing personal crime, 2008–09 and 2009–10 (%)

Persons over the age of 15 years experiencing personal crime, 2008–09 and 2009–10 (%)

a: includes physical and threatened assault

N2009–10=1,110,200

N2008–09=1,214,400

Note: The figures reported in the previous edition of Australian crime: Facts & figures were incorrect. Figure 37 reflects the amended figures

  • Of all respondents surveyed in both 2008–09 and 2009–10 with regard to personal crime, the highest proportion reported experiencing assault. Compared with the previous year, there was a two percentage point increase in the proportion of people who reported being the victim of assault in 2009–10.
  • There was a two percentage point decrease in the proportion of respondents who reported experiencing robbery in 2009–10, down from the eight percent who experienced robbery in 2008–09. The proportion who experienced sexual assault remained at four percent in 2009–10.

Source: Reference 17

Figure 38: Experience of repeat victimisation for person crimes, 2009–10 (%)

Experience of repeat victimisation for person crimes, 2009–10 (%)

Note: Excludes incidents of personal crime that could not be categorised

  • Across all categories of personal crime, the largest proportion reported experiencing only one incident of victimisation. These proportions ranged from 82 percent for robbery and 49 percent for physical assault to 40 percent for threatened assault.
  • Larger proportions of respondents reported experiencing three or more repeat victimisations than two repeat victimisations across all categories of personal crimes. This difference was most noticeable in the assault categories where 28 percent of respondents reported experiencing three or more incidents of physical assault compared with only 23 percent who reported experiencing two incidents. Similarly, 38 percent of respondents reported experiencing three or more incidents of threatened assault compared with 22 percent who experienced only two incidents.

Source: Reference 17

Figure 39: Victim of personal crime, by gender, 2009–10 (%)

Victim of personal crime, by gender, 2009–10 (%)

  • There was very little difference between the proportion of males and females who reported being the victim of physical assault, threatened assault and robbery. However, a higher proportion of male respondents were victimised compared with females across each offence type, with the exception of sexual assault where a larger proportion of females reported being a victim.
  • Six percent of female respondents reported experiencing sexual assault in 2009–10 compared with one percent of male respondents.

Source: Reference 17

Figure 40: Male victims of assault, by location, 2009–10 (%)

Male victims of assault, by location, 2009–10 (%)

POS=Place of study

POE=Place of entertainment

  • Although the greatest proportion of males experienced physical assault in their own home (20%) compared with any other location, males were almost as likely to be assaulted at work or at a place of study, on the street or at a place of entertainment (19% of assaults each). Nine percent of male respondents reported experiencing physical assault in a home other than their own.
  • In 2009–10, work or place of study was the only category where a higher proportion of males were threatened with assault (29%), compared with 19 percent who were victims of actual physical assault.

Source: Reference 17

Figure 41: Female victims of assault, by location, 2009–10 (%)

Female victims of assault, by location, 2009–10 (%)

POS=Place of study

POE=Place of entertainment

  • The majority of female assault victims reported experiencing assault in their own home; 39 percent reported incidents of physical assault, while 32 percent reported being threatened with assault.
  • The smallest proportion of female respondents reported experiencing physical assault at a place of entertainment (7%), while the smallest proportion reported being threatened with assault at a home other than their own (5%).
  • Outside the home, work or places of study were the locations where female respondents were most likely to be assaulted or threatened with assault. Twenty-nine percent of female respondents reported being threatened with assault in the workplace or place of study, compared with 16 percent who experienced actual physical assault.

Source: Reference 17

Figure 42: Non-face to face threatened assault, method and victim sex, 2009–10 (%)

Non-face to face threatened assault, method and victim sex, 2009–10 (%)

  • A high proportion of both male and female respondents reported receiving threats of assault over the phone (72% and 50% respectively). However, more female respondents (47%) reported receiving a threat by SMS compared with male respondents (20%).
  • Only five percent of male respondents and three percent of female respondents reported receiving a threat of assault in writing, although 13 percent of male and 17 percent of female respondents did report receiving threats via email.

Source: Reference 17

Reporting crime to the police

Victimisation surveys are useful for assessing the extent of crime that is not reported to the police. Surveys find a wide variation in reporting, depending on the type of crime. The estimated extent of reporting for selected household offence categories is presented in Figure 43, while the reasons for not reporting are illustrated in Figure 44. Similar analysis is then provided for personal crime reporting (Figures 45 and 46).

Source: Reference 17

Figure 43: Incidents of household crime reported to police, 2008–09 and 2009–10 (%)

Incidents of household crime reported to police, 2008–09 and 2009–10 (%)

  • The proportion of respondents who reported incidents of household crime to police increased in 2009–10, most noticeably for theft from a motor vehicle, where reporting rose from 55 to 90 percent. Other crimes where the proportion of incidents reported to the police increased in 2009–10 were malicious property damage, attempted break-in and ‘other’ theft.
  • The two categories of offence where the proportion of incidents reported to police declined in 2009–10 were MVT and break-ins. In 2008–09, 87 percent of respondents reported notifying police of an incident of MVT, compared with 76 percent in 2009–10. Similarly, 76 percent of respondents in 2008–09 reported incidents of break-in to police, compared with 42 percent in 2009–10; a total decrease of 34 percentage points.

Source: Reference 17

Figure 44: Reasons for not reporting selected household crimes to police, 2009–10 (%)

Reasons for not reporting selected household crimes to police,  2009–10 (%)

  • The highest proportion of respondents reported failing to notify police because of the belief that the incident was trivial or unimportant. This ranged from 10 percent for break-ins to 28 percent for both malicious property damage and ‘other’ theft.
  • The belief that there was nothing the police could do was most prevalent for other theft, attempted break-in and malicious property damage. Specifically, 18 percent of respondents believed nothing could be done in relation to an incident of ‘other’ theft compared with 16 percent for attempted break-ins and 14 percent for malicious property damage.
  • Only two percent of respondents failed to notify police of a break-in because they felt that the police would be unwilling to help them.
  • The proportion who failed to report to police an attempted break-in because they felt police would be unwilling to help them was slightly higher at six percent. A further six percent of respondents who experienced an attempted break-in failed to report it to police because the property was not insured.

Source: Reference 17

Figure 45: Incidents of selected personal crimes reported to police, 2008–09 and 2009–10 (%)

Incidents of selected personal crimes reported to police, 2008–09  and 2009–10 (%)

  • Across all categories of personal crimes, the proportion of incidents reported to police increased in 2009–10 compared with 2008–09. This was most noticeable for the offence of robbery where there was an increase of 22 percentage points, from 39 percent of respondents reporting robberies in 2008–09 compared with 61 percent in 2009–10.
  • The proportion of sexual assault incidents reported to police in 2009–10 was 37 percent, compared with 31 percent in 2008–09. Similarly, 51 percent of physical assault incidents were reported to police (2 percentage point increase) and 32 percent of threatened assault (2 percentage point increase).

Source: Reference 17

Figure 46: Reasons for not reporting incidents of assaulta to police, 2009–10 (%)

Reasons for not reporting incidents of assault to police, 2009–10 (%)

a: reasons for non-reporting for other personal crimes not available

  • In cases of threatened assault, 29 percent of respondents reported not notifying police because they believed the police would be unwilling to help, 25 percent because they felt the incident was too trivial or unimportant and 15 percent because they believed it to be a personal matter.
  • Fifteen percent of respondents did not notify police of incidents of physical assault because they felt it was trivial or unimportant, 10 percent because it was a personal matter and four percent told someone other than the police. In only two percent of cases was a report not made of an incident of physical assault because of the belief the police would be unwilling to do anything.
  • In 2009–10, four percent of respondents did not report an incident of physical assault, nor did five percent of victims of threatened assault, because of a fear of reprisal or retaliation.

Source: Reference 17

Fear and perception of crime

Concerns about crime are generally more widespread than recent direct experiences of victimisation (Reference 18). In Crime Victimisation, Australia, the ABS reported the degree to which respondents perceive certain antisocial behaviours as neighbourhood problems.

Figure 47: Perceived problems in the neighbourhood, 2009–10 (%)

Perceived problems in the neighbourhood, 2009–10 (%)

n=16,577,900

DND=Dangerous/noisy driving

  • Seventy-one percent of respondents reported that they perceived dangerous/noisy driving to be a neighbourhood problem. Rowdy/offensive behaviour was a problem for 39 percent of respondents, graffiti for 20 percent, while people loitering in groups and public drunkenness were a problem for 18 and 17 percent of respondents, respectively.
  • In 2009–10, 39 precent of respondents perceived there to be no problems in their neighbourhood.

Source: Reference 17

Cybercrime

Cybercrime is an umbrella term that describes offences committed online or through the medium of a computer. Each year, a growing number of Australians are victims of cybercrimes ranging from virus and Trojan attacks, identity theft and internet-based scams, to harassment and stalking via the online environment.

Currently, there is no national database reflecting the precise level of cybercrime in Australia. The Australian Computer Emergency Response Team (AusCERT) monitors security incidents that occur within Australian computer networks. The information presented below reflects the number of notifications AusCERT received, specifically in relation to malicious software (malware).

Malware

A common form of cybercrime involves the installation of unwanted and/or malicious software (malware) on the user’s computer without their consent. Malware can infiltrate and be detected at varying levels in a computer network. Malware can compromise:

  • a computer (referred to as the host);
  • a website; and/or,
  • an account (such as a user account).

Source: Reference 44

Malware has the ability to severely damage a computer’s functioning and can also lead to unauthorised access by external users. Malware can be used to gain access to a victim’s bank account, obtain passwords and aid in the perpetration of online identity theft. Common examples include viruses and worms, downloaders/droppers, adware and spyware, Trojan horses and backdoors (Reference 44).

Figure 48: Notifications received by AusCERT regarding compromised computer activity, 2007–10 (n)

Notifications received by AusCERT regarding compromised computer activity, 2007–10 (n)

Note: The numbers reported are reflective of the volume of notifications received by AusCERT regarding compromised computer activity. These data should not be perceived as indicative of the likelihood that a website, host or account will be compromised

  • In 2010, there was a substantial increase in the number of notifications of a compromised website. In 2009, AusCERT received 8,166 notifications of compromised website activity; in 2010, that number rose to 28,989 notifications, an increase of 255 percent.
  • Over the 2007–10 four year period, AusCERT received far fewer notifications regarding compromised hosts/computers, although there was a 296 percent increase in these notifications (from 1,353 notifications in 2007 to 5,369 notifications in 2009).
  • By contrast, since 2008, the number of notifications related to compromised accounts has been in decline, falling below 5,000 notifications in 2010.

Source: Reference 19

Figure 49: Notifications of compromised web hosts and web sites, by domain address, 2010 (n)

Notifications of compromised web hosts and web sites, by domain address, 2010 (n)

  • The majority of notifications for websites received by AusCERT in 2010 were for commercial com.au domains. AusCERT received 13,592 notifications relating to com.au sites, of which 96 percent related to compromised website activity.
  • Conversely, notifications from compromised hosts regarding education edu.au addresses were received in far greater numbers (n=2,541) than from websites (n=76).
  • In 2010, the least number of notifications received by AusCERT related to government gov.au domains than any other Australian domain address (n=213).
  • Twenty-one percent of the notifications for net.au domains pertained to compromised websites.

Source: Reference 19

Figure 50: Notifications of malware hosting and logging sites, 2008–10 (n)

Notifications of malware hosting and logging sites, 2008–10 (n)

  • Between 2009 and 2010, the number of notifications regarding malware hosting sites increased sharply. Specifically, they rose by 111 percent from 5,689 to 11,996 notifications.
  • Notifications of malware logging sites also increased, although more modestly than for hosting sites. In 2008, AusCERT received less than 120 notifications of malware logging sites compared with 1,539 notifications received in 2010.

Source: Reference 19

Scams

Scams aim to defraud an individual via deceptive deals and offers, many of which are now perpetrated online. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) monitor the level of scam activity in Australia and publish the findings in Targeting Scams: Report of the ACCC on scam activity.

The top 10 scams reported to the ACCC in 2010 involved:

  • advance fee/upfront payment (sometimes referred to as Nigerian Advanced Fee Fraud this type of scam asks the victim to pay a specified amount (eg to unlock a bank account) in order to receive a greater sum in return);
  • online auction and shopping;
  • computer hacking;
  • lottery and sweepstake;
  • unexpected prize;
  • false billing;
  • banking and online accounts (includes phishing);
  • job and employment (includes business opportunity);
  • dating and romance (includes adult services); and
  • computer prediction software (includes betting).

Source: Reference 20

Figure 51: Proportion of scams reported to Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, 2010 (%)

Proportion of scams reported to Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, 2010 (%)

  • Of the 42,385 scam notifications received by the ACCC in 2010, 35 percent were in relation to advanced fee/up-front scams, making these scams the most commonly reported in 2010. The second most commonly reported scam involved online auction or shopping (13%).
  • Other, less common, categories of scams were banking and online account scams (6%), dating and romance scams (3%), job and employment scams (3%), and false billing (6%). Only one percent of scams involved computer prediction software.

Source: Reference 20

Figure 52: Reported monetary losses, by selected scams, 2010 (%)

Reported monetary losses, by selected scams, 2010 (%)

  • In 2010, victims most commonly reported losing money in dating and romance scams (52%) and scams involving computer prediction software (46%). Thirty-four percent of people reported losing money to online auction or shopping scams.
  • Despite being the most commonly reported scam in 2010, only 11 percent of people who reported advanced fee/up-front payment scams lost money.

Source: Reference 20

Figure 53: Percentage of scam victims who reported monetary loss, 2010 (%)

Percentage of scam victims who reported monetary loss, 2010 (%)

n=6568

  • Of those who reported their losses to the ACCC, the highest proportion of victims (54%) lost less than $1,000 to scam activity in 2010; 34 percent lost between $1,000 and $9,999.
  • Less than one percent (specifically, 0.3% and 0.1%) of reported incidents of scam victimisation involved the monetary loss of either $500,000 to $999,999 or over $1m.

Source: Reference 20