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Chapter 3: Selected offender profiles

The offender information reported in Chapter Three is supplied by the ABS Recorded Crime—Offender series. It encompasses more jurisdictions and is therefore more reflective of national patterns and trends. As a result, offender information reported in Chapter Three is no longer comparable with information contained in editions prior to 2013. Previous offender information reported in earlier editions of Australian Crime: Facts & figures was drawn from Victorian, Queensland and South Australian police data.

In the 2011–12 edition of Australian Crime: Facts & figures, NSW offender data excluded those proceeded against under the NSW Young Offenders Act 1997 and was therefore understated. In October 2013, the NSW Parliament passed an amendment to the NSW Young Offenders Act 1997 which allows for data for offenders proceeded against under this act to be included in the 2013 ABS edition of Recorded Crime—Offender, as well as backdating this data to 2008–09. As a result, NSW data for young offenders is now consistent with other Australian states and territories. Data on young offenders in the 2014 edition of Australian Crime: Facts & figures has also been updated to reflect this.

Source: Reference 7

This chapter brings together information on offenders from three sources:

  • the ABS’s Recorded Crime—Offenders, Selected States and Territories, 2012–13;
  • the Australian Crime Commission’s Illicit Drug Data Report series; and
  • the AIC’s Drug Use Monitoring in Australia (DUMA) program.

Recorded Crime—Offenders, Selected States and Territories, 2012–13 includes national data on offender age and sex for four key offence categories:

  • acts intended to cause injury (AICI);
  • theft and related offences;
  • illicit drug offences; and
  • public order offences.

It also contains information on offender characteristics for other offences on a state-by-state basis.

Offenders

This chapter presents data on offenders classified according to sex and age. The number of offenders does not equal the number of distinct alleged offenders during a year, because police may take action against the same individual for several offences, or the individual may be processed on more than one occasion for the same offence type. Neither does it equate to the total number of crimes cleared during a given period, as one crime may involve more than one offender.

The offender data are for the following major types of crime:

  • homicide and related offences (murder, attempted murder, manslaughter, infanticide and driving causing death);
  • assault;
  • sexual assault;
  • robbery;
  • UEWI;
  • MVT;
  • other theft; and
  • fraud and deception-related crime.

Source: Reference 7

Age

Persons aged 15–19 years are more likely to be processed by police for the commission of a crime than are members of any other population. In 2012–13, the offending rate for persons aged 15–19 years was two and a half times the rate for other offenders (3,445 per 100,000 compared with 1,359 per 100,000 respectively).

Figure 29 Offenders by age, 2009–10 to 2012–13 (rate per 100,000 relevant persons)

Figure 029

a: ‘All’ refers to all offenders aged 10 years and over

  • The rate of offending in the two youngest age groups has decreased between 2009–10 and 2012–13. Offending decreased by 38 percent in the 10–14 years age group to 767 per 100,000 population in 2012–13. Over the same period, the rate of offending in the 15–19 years age group decreased by 21 percent to 3,445 per 100,000 population.
  • Between 2011–12 and 2012–13, the rate of offending in the 20–24 and 25+ years age group increased by three percent to 3,304 per 100,000 population and five percent to 1,012 per 100,000 population respectively.
  • Overall, there was little change in the rate of offending between 2011–12 to 2012–13, increasing by one percent from 1,342 to 1,359 per 100,000 population.

Source: Reference 7

Figure 30 Offenders by selected violent offences and age, 2012–13 (rate per 100,000 population)

Figure 030

Note: AICI=acts intended to cause injury

  • In 2012–13, the pattern across most crimes showed that offending rates were highest in the 15–19 years age group.
  • In 2012–13, the rate of AICI offending was 736 per 100,000 population in the 15–19 years age group. The rate of offending was lower in each of the subsequent age groups.
  • While the rate of sexual assault offending was highest in the 15–19 years age group (60 per 100,000 population), the rate of offending by 20–24 year olds was higher than the rate of offending among individuals aged 40 years or older. Specifically, 20–24 year olds committed sexual assault at a rate of 39 per 100,000 population compared with a rate of 32 in the 40–44 years age group and 29 per 100,000 population in the 45–49 years age group.
  • Homicide was the only crime where the offending rate was not highest in the 15–19 years age group. Though never greater than 10 per 100,000 population in any age group, homicide offending was highest among offenders aged 20–24 years old (9 per 100,000 population).

Figure 31 Offenders by selected property offences and age, 2012–13 (rate per 100,000 population)

Figure 031

  • In 2012–13, the rate of theft was 1,206 per 100,000 population in the 15–19 years age group. This was higher than the rates of offending in either the 10–14 years age group (327 per 100,000 population) or the 20–24 years age group (627 per 100,000 population). However, after 45 years of age, the rates of theft and other specified offences remained low.
  • The rate of offending in the 10–14 years age group was higher for UEWI than for property damage. Specifically, the rate of offending was 143 per 100,000 for UEWI compared with 123 per 100,000 population for property damage. However, the offending rates for property damage remained higher for subsequent groups compared with that of UEWI.

Sex

In 2012–13, the total number of offenders was 391,120 nationally. Of these, 304,777 were male and 85,331 were female (note—1,012 offenders did not have their sex recorded). The ratio of males to female offenders in 2012–13 was approximately four to one.

Figure 32 Offenders by sex, 2009–10 to 2012–13 (per 100,000 of that sex per year)a

Figure 032

a: Excludes juveniles where gender is uknown

  • In 2012–13, the rate of male offenders per 100,000 population was 2,646 compared with 734 per 100,000 population for female offenders.
  • Offender rates for both males and females increased slightly between 2011–12 and 2012–13. Male offending rates increased by two percent (from 2,583 to 2,646 per 100,000 population) and female offending rates by one percent (from 731 to 735 per 100,000 population).

Source: References 2 and 7

Offence type

Figure 33 Offenders by offence type, 2011–12 and 2012–13 (per 100,000 per year)

Figure 033

  • The rate of offending decreased for UEWI and theft between 2011–12 and 2012–13. UEWI decreased by 11 percent (65 to 58 per 100,000 population) and theft decreased by five percent (318 to 302 per 100,000 population).
  • Between 2011–12 and 2012–13, the rate of offending for fraud/deception, AICI and illicit drug offences increased. Increases were most noticeable for fraud/deception, which increased by 14 percent (43 to 49 per 100,000 population) and illicit drug offences, which increased by five percent (303 to 319 per 100,000 population).
  • In 2012–13, homicide and robbery/extortion were the two crime categories with the lowest rate of offending. The rate of robbery/extortion remained at 17 per 100,000 population.

Source: References 2 and 7

Juveniles

Definitions of juvenile differ between states. Data in this section include alleged offenders aged between 10 and 17 years.

Figure 34 Juvenile and adult offenders by age group, 2010–11 to 2012–13 (per 100,000 of that age group per year)

Figure 034

  • The rate of juvenile offending continues to decrease, averaging approximately 2,425 per 100,000 juvenile population in 2012–13. In 2012–13, the juvenile offending rate was 10 percent lower than that recorded in 2011–12 (2,680 per 100,000 population).
  • The rate of adult offending has been consistently lower than that of juvenile offending over the three year period. In 2012–13, adults offended at a rate of 1,396 per 100,000 population.

Source: References 2 and 7

Figure 35 Juvenile offenders by sex, 2010–11 to 2012–13 (per 100,000 juveniles of that sex per year)

Figure 035

  • Over the three year period from 2010–11 to 2012–13, male juveniles consistently offended at higher rates than female juveniles. In 2012–13, the rate of offending for males was 3,442 per 100,000 population compared with 1,361 per 100,000 for females.
  • Between 2010–11 and 2012–13, male juvenile offending decreased by 23 percent, while female juvenile offending decreased by 34 percent.

Source: References 2 and 7

Figure 36 Juvenile offenders by sex and selected offence type, 2012–13 (per 100,000 juveniles of that sex)

Figure 036

  • Male and female juveniles had the highest rates of offending for the categories of theft, AICI and illicit drug offences.
  • In 2012–13, the offending rate for theft was 1,244 per 100,000 for males and 710 per 100,000 population for females. For AICI, it was 829 per 100,000 for males and 357 per 100,000 population for females. Finally, for illicit drug offences, males offended at a rate of 803 per 100,000 and females at a rate of 180 per 100,000 population.
  • In no category did the rate of juvenile female offending exceed that of male offending. This was especially noticeable in the categories of theft, AICI, UEWI and illicit drug offences.

Drug arrests

This section provides an overview of drug arrest patterns for offenders from 2002–03 to 2012–13, as collated by the Australian Crime Commission in its Illicit Drug Data Report series. Drug offences usually come to the attention of police either through specific activity in drug law enforcement or coincidentally through an investigation into another matter, often related to property offences. Arrest information is provided for the following types of drugs:

  • cannabis;
  • heroin (and other opioids);
  • amphetamines (including methamphetamine and phenethylamines);
  • cocaine; and
  • other drugs (hallucinogens, steroids and drugs not defined elsewhere).

Cannabis arrests include expiation notices, drug infringement notices and simple cannabis offence notices.

Offenders involved in drug arrests are divided into two categories:

  • consumers—persons charged with user offences (eg possessing or administering drugs for own personal use); and
  • providers—persons charged with supply offences (eg importation, trafficking, selling, cultivation or manufacture).

In the case of a person being charged with consumer and provider offences, the provider charge takes precedence and the person is counted only as a provider of that drug. A person charged with multiple drug offences is counted as a consumer or provider of each drug type.

Figure 37 Drug arrests by type of drug, 2002–03 to 2012–13 (n per year)

Figure 037

a: Includes hallucinogens, steroids and other drugs (not defined elsewhere)

  • In line with previous years, cannabis accounted for the highest number of drug-related arrests in 2012–13. There were 62,210 arrests involving cannabis; an increase of two percent from 2011–12.
  • The number of amphetamine arrests increased from 16,828 in 2011–12 to 22,189 in 2012–13. This represents an increase of 32 percent from 2011–12 and an overall increase in arrests of 167 percent since 2002–03.
  • The number of cocaine arrests in 2012–13 was 1,282; an increase of 29 percent on the previous year.
  • Heroin arrests continued to decrease in 2012–13—by nine percent from 2011–12, and an overall decrease in arrests of 36 percent since 2002–03.

Source: Reference 4

Figure 38 Consumer/provider status of drug arrestees by type of drug, 2012–13 (%)

Figure 038

a: Includes hallucinogens, steroids and other drugs not defined elsewhere

Note: Does not include cases where consumer or provider status was unknown

  • Drug arrests involving a consumer were far more common across all drug types than those involving a provider.
  • Providers accounted for 32 percent of heroin-related arrests, 30 percent of cocaine-related arrests, 20 percent of amphetamine and other drug-related arrests and 13 percent of cannabis-related offences.

Source: Reference 4

Drug use by offenders

Police detainees

Established in 1999 and operating at selected watch houses and police stations across Australia, the AIC’s DUMA program is Australia’s largest national survey of the illicit drug use patterns of police detainees. Detainees are interviewed at the station or watchhouse by an independent interviewer who asks them a series of questions relating to their drug and alcohol use, prior contact with the criminal justice system and a range of sociodemographic factors (eg age, Indigenous status and employment status; Reference 8). At two data collections per year (the first and third quarters), participants are asked to provide a urine sample, which serves as an objective measure of recent drug use.

Since the DUMA program began, 49,401 detainees have participated in a DUMA survey and 36,545 urine samples have been collected. In 2013, following a review and rationalisation of the program, DUMA data was collected at the Bankstown, East Perth, Brisbane, Adelaide and Kings Cross police stations. Much smaller numbers of detainees have participated in DUMA surveys at the Kings Cross police station compared with other sites.

Data are collected quarterly and presented in the following Figures as annual averages. Data presented in the majority of this section includes males only, who account for approximately 84 percent of adult police detainees in the DUMA collection. As the DUMA data deals with percentage of drug use as opposed to the count, changes and comparisons between years are reported in percentage points. The five sites differed in the proportion of police detainees testing positive to each of methamphetamine, cocaine, cannabis and heroin. It should be noted the number of detainees interviewed at each site can vary considerably and this should be taken into consideration when interpreting the comparisons between sites and across time periods.

Source: Reference 8

Figure 39 Adult male police detainees testing positive to any druga by DUMA site, 2009–13 (%)

Figure 039

a: Includes cannabis, heroin, methamphetamine, cocaine, or benzodiazepines

b: Results from Bankstown and Kings Cross may be affected by a decrease in the number of urine samples collected between 2009–13

c: Urine samples only collected in Bankstown in one quarter in 2013

Note: The DUMA sites at Parramatta, Southport, Darwin and Footscray were not active in 2013

  • High proportions of adult male detainees tested positive to a drug across Bankstown, East Perth, Brisbane, Adelaide and Kings Cross in 2013. These ranged from just under half at the Bankstown site (45%) to 72 percent at the East Perth site.
  • The proportion of adult male detainees testing positive to a drug at the Bankstown and Kings Cross sites has decreased since 2009. The proportion of adult male detainees testing positive to any drugs at the Bankstown site decreased by 18 percentage points from 2009, while the proportion at Kings Cross dropped by 14 percentage points.
  • In 2013, 45 percent of detainees tested positive to a drug at Bankstown—the lowest of any testing site in the five year period.

Source: Reference 8

Figure 40 Adult male police detainees testing positive to cannabis by DUMA location, 2009–13 (%)

Figure 040

Note: The DUMA sites at Parramatta, Southport, Darwin and Footscray were not active in 2013

  • The proportion of adult male detainees who tested positive to cannabis in 2013 ranged from 24 percent at the Bankstown site to 58 percent at the East Perth site.
  • Since 2009, an average of 38 percent and 24 percent of detainees have tested positive to cannabis at the Kings Cross and Bankstown sites respectively—the lowest of any long-term site.
  • In some of the testing sites, there was an overall increase in detainees testing positive to cannabis. At the East Perth, Brisbane and Adelaide sites, the proportion of detainees who tested positive was higher in 2013 than it was in 2009.

Source: Reference 8

Figure 41 Adult male police detainees testing positive to methamphetamine by DUMA location, 2009–13 (%)

Figure 041

Note: The scale for this chart is different from that of other charts as the percentages involved are relatively small. The DUMA sites at Parramatta, Southport, Darwin and Footscray were not active in 2013

  • The proportion of adult male detainees testing positive to methamphetamine in 2013 ranged from 23 percent (Adelaide) to 46 percent (Kings Cross).
  • Methamphetamine use increased at all long-term sites from 2009 to 2013.
  • Between 2012 and 2013, the largest percentage increases in adult male detainees testing positive to methamphetamine were recorded at Kings Cross (14%), East Perth (6%) and Bankstown (3%).

Source: Reference 8

Figure 42 Adult male police detainees testing positive to heroin by DUMA location, 2009–2013 (%)

Figure 042

Note: The DUMA sites at Parramatta, Southport, Darwin and Footscray were not active in 2013

  • Most sites registered a decrease in heroin use.
  • Less than 10 percent of detainees tested positive to heroin in 2013. The largest percentage of detainees testing positive to heroin were recorded at Kings Cross (8%), Bankstown (7%) and Brisbane (7%).

Source: Reference 8

Figure 43 Adult male police detainees testing positive to cocaine by DUMA location, 2009–13 (%)

Figure 043

a: There was a decrease in the number of urine samples collected from Kings Cross between 2010–13

Note: The scale for this chart is different from that of other charts as the percentages involved are relatively small. The DUMA sites at Parramatta, Southport, Darwin and Footscray were not active in 2013

  • In 2013, one percent or less of adult male detainees tested positive to cocaine at the East Perth, Brisbane and Adelaide sites. No adult male detainees tested positive to cocaine at the Bankstown site.
  • The proportions of detainees testing positive to cocaine at Kings Cross continue to decrease. In 2013, eight percent of detainees in Kings Cross tested positive to cocaine.

Source: Reference 8

Figure 44 Adult male police detainees testing positive to a drug by type of offence, 2013 (%)

Figure 044

  • Sixty-one percent of adult male detainees charged with a violent offence as their most serious offence (MSO) tested positive to some form of drug compared with 81 percent of those charged with property offences.
  • Almost half (45%) of adult male detainees who tested positive to cannabis and a quarter who tested positive to methamphetamine, were detained for violent offences.

Source: Reference 8

Most serious offence

Figure 45 Adult male police detainees, by most serious offence, 2009–13 (%)

Figure 045

Figure 46 Adult female police detainees, by most serious offence, 2009–13 (%)

Figure 046

  • Since 2009, the majority of trends in MSO for adult male and female detainees have remained relatively stable.
  • For adult male detainees, violent offences were the most common MSO (30%), followed by breaches (25%).
  • There was a 24 percent increase in the number of female detainees with an MSO of ‘breaches’ between 2012 and 2013.

Source: Reference 8