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Chapter 2: Crime victimisation

Prior to 2009, information relating to the experience of criminal victimisation in Australia was obtained through the ABS publication Crime and Safety Survey. Data presented in this chapter is built upon the ABS annual publication Crime Victimisation, Australia, first published in 2010. As such, figures contained in earlier editions of Australian Crime: Facts & figures (prior to 2010 edition) are not comparable to 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 percentages 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.

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. This includes home break-in, attempted break-in and MVT. 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 5

Household victimisation

Figure 19 Reported experiences of household crime, 2011–12 to 2012–13 (%)

Figure 019

Note: Some numbers should be used with caution as the estimate had relative standard errors greater than 25 to 50 percent and may be considered too unreliable for general use. Population totals excluded households that did not report any incident of household crime in 2011–12 and 2012–13

  • An estimated 1,548,800 households experienced at least one incident of household crime in 2012–13. This is a decrease of 11 percent from 1,748,400 in 2011–12.
  • The proportion of households that reported experiencing the crimes of theft from a motor vehicle (18%) and other theft (16%) did not change between 2011–12 and 2012–13.
  • The proportion of households that reported being the victim of a MVT and break-in increased by one percent from the preceding 12 months. Conversely, the proportion that reported experiencing attempted break-ins and malicious property damage decreased by one percent over the same period.

Source: Reference 5

Figure 20 Experience of repeat victimisation for household crimes, 2012–13 (%)

Figure 020

Note: Population totals excluded households that did not report any incident of household crime

  • The proportion of households that reported experiencing repeat victimisations followed similar patterns across all categories of household crimes. In all cases, the majority experienced only one incident of household crime, ranging from 96 percent for MVT to 78 percent for attempted break-ins.
  • Repeat victimisation was greater in 2012–13 for attempted break-in, malicious property damage and other theft.

Source: Reference 5

Personal victimisation

Figure 21 Persons over the age of 15 years experiencing personal crime, 2011–12 to 2012–13 (%)

Figure 021

a: Includes physical and threatened assault

b: Data for victims 15 years of age and older not available for 2011–12 onwards. Data for victims aged 18 years of age and older was used

Note: Population totals excluded individuals who did not report any incident of personal crime

  • An estimated 1,066,500 people experienced a personal crime. Of the victims who experienced a personal crime, 90 percent experienced an assault and four percent experienced a sexual assault.
  • There was a one percent increase in persons who experienced a robbery (6% in 2013).

Source: Reference 5

Figure 22 Experience of repeat victimisation for personal crimes, 2012–13 (%)

Figure 022

Note: Population totals excluded individuals who did not report any incident of personal crime. Excludes incidents of personal crime that could not be categorised

  • In 2012–13, the majority of people over the age of 15 years who were victims of a personal crime experienced a single incident of physical robbery. For example, it is estimated that of those who experienced robbery, 77 percent reported a single incident, followed by 13 percent who reported two incidents and 10 percent who reported three or more incidents of victimisation. Similarly, of those who experienced an assault, 48 percent reported a single incident, followed by 21 percent who reported two incidents and 31 who reported three or more incidents of victimisation.
  • For threatened assault, greater proportions of people experienced three or more incidents. In 2012–13, it is estimated that 48 percent of persons were threatened with physical assault on three or more occasions, while 33 percent reported a single incident and 19 percent reported two incidents.

Source: Reference 5

Figure 23 Victims of personal crime by gender, 2012–13 (%)

Figure 023

Note: Population totals excluded individuals who did not report any incident of personal crime

  • Similar proportions of males and females reported being a victim of physical assault and threatened assault in 2012–13.
  • Five percent of female respondents reported experiencing sexual assault in 2012–13, compared with two percent of male respondents.

Source: Reference 5

Figure 24 Male and female victims of physical assault by location, 2012–13 (%)

Figure 024

a: Includes locations such as train stations, bus stops or interchanges and shopping centres

Note: POS=place of study. POE=place of entertainment

  • In 2012–13, the majority of female physical assault victims reported experiencing assault in their own home (48%).
  • Males were most likely to have been physically assaulted at work or place of study (24%). followed by the street (21%), their home (18%) or a place of entertainment (13%).

Source: Reference 5

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. In 2012–13, rates of reporting household crimes to the police varied from 93 percent for MVT to 51 percent for malicious property damage. Rates of reporting personal crime to the police were generally lower—53 percent for robbery, 49 percent for physical assault and 38 percent for threatened assault.

Source: Reference 5

Figure 25 Reasons for not reporting selected household crimes to police, 2012–13 (%)

Figure 025

  • Most victims did not report household crimes to the police because they believed the incident was trivial or unimportant. This ranged from 60 percent of victims who experienced malicious property damage to 39 percent for victims of break-ins.
  • The belief that there was nothing police could do was the next most common reason for victims not to report attempted break-ins (24%), theft from motor vehicles (24%), other theft (24%) and malicious property damage (20%).
  • An estimated 29 percent of victims of break-ins did not report the incident to police because they believe the police would be unwilling to assist.

Source: Reference 5

Figure 26 Reasons for not reporting incidents of assault to police, 2012–13 (%)

Figure 026

  • In cases of threatened assault, 38 percent of respondents reported not notifying police because they felt the matter was trivial or unimportant, 18 percent had other reasons for not notifying police and 16 percent believed the police could not do anything or believed it to be a personal matter.
  • Twenty-nine percent of respondents of physical assault did not notify police due to other reasons, 25 percent because the matter was trivial or unimportant, 19 percent because it was a personal matter and 17 percent believed that the police could not do anything.

Source: Reference 5

Scams

Scams aim to defraud an individual through deception. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) monitors the level of scam activity in Australia and publishes the findings in Target Scams: Report of the ACCC on Scam Activity.

In 2013, 91,927 consumers and small businesses reported scam-related activities to the ACCC. However, this number may be understated given that many scams are unreported and the ACCC is one of several agencies that receives reports on scams. Estimated losses resulting from scam-related activities reported to the ACCC totalled $89,136,975. Almost two-thirds (64%) of these losses were less than $1,000, followed by 25 percent that were between $1,000 and $10,000.

The top 10 scams reported to the ACCC in 2013 involved:

  • advance fee/up-front payment;
  • phishing and identity theft;
  • computer hacking;
  • lottery and sweepstakes;
  • online shopping;
  • unexpected prizes;
  • false billing;
  • job and employment;
  • dating and romance; and
  • mobile phone.

Source: Reference 6

Figure 27 Proportion of selected scams reported to ACCC, 2012 and 2013 (%)

Figure 027

  • The proportion of reported scams involving advance fee/upfront payment, computer hacking, lottery and sweepstakes, online auction and shopping and unexpected prizes all decreased between 2012 and 2013 by one to three percentage points.
  • Conversely, between 2012 and 2013, the proportion of scams involving banking and online accounts and false billing increased by six and one percentage points respectively.

Source: Reference 6

Victim’s reporting monetary losses

Figure 28 Monetary losses by selected scams, 2013 (%)

Figure 028

a: Includes betting

b: Includes adult services

c: Includes business opportunities

d: Includes phishing and identity theft

  • In 2013, victims most commonly reported losing money in online auctions and shopping (45%), dating and romance scams (43%), and computer prediction software (38%).
  • Despite being one of the most commonly reported scams in 2013, only 10 percent of victims of advanced fee/upfront payment reported a monetary loss. Similarly, small proportions reported losing money to scams involving computer hacking (9%), lottery and sweepstakes (6%), and unexpected prizes (5%).

Source: Reference 6