Performance, outcomes and outputs
The institute measures its effectiveness by the following criteria:
- timely production of AIC research findings, primarily through publications
- the extent to which institute services and data are valued by key stakeholders
- the flexibility of the AIC to respond to emerging policy needs
- budget and financial outcomes.
The summary table at the end of this section lists outputs and outcome/impact indicators for national monitoring programs and key research projects during the reporting period. Publications are listed in Appendix 1.
Policy- and practice- relevant research
Research undertaken by the AIC seeks to inform policy and practice in the crime and criminal justice sectors by:
- monitoring trends in crime and the criminal justice system
- building knowledge of offending and victimisation
- identifying emerging or changed criminal activity
- building an evidence base for an effective criminal justice system and crime prevention.
During 2008–09, the AIC continued to operate and build its national monitoring programs related to homicide, firearms theft, armed robbery, deaths in custody, drug use by alleged offenders, juvenile detention and police custody. It also established research projects on human trafficking and anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing. For information on the monitoring programs see Box 1 on page 14.
The following section summarises research activity and outputs for the year under key themes:
- transnational and organised crime
- economic and high tech crime
- criminal justice responses
- capacity building
- property crime
- violent crime.
Transnational and organised crime
The Australian Government has funded major research programs on human trafficking and AML/CTF. Worldwide concerns over the extent of money laundering, coupled with evidence that major terrorist activities have been facilitated by money laundering, have significantly increased the level of knowledge and interest in the subject. In support of the Government's initiatives, the institute co-hosted an international AML/CTF conference, at which the visiting research fellow, Professor Michael Levi, was a keynote speaker. During 2008–09, the AIC undertook research on alternative remittances, bulk cash smuggling and vulnerabilities of different sectors to money laundering.
As part of the foundation for the research program on human trafficking, the AIC released a report on the trafficking of women for sexual purposes; a paper that outlined the challenges associated with the prosecution of trafficking crimes and identified some examples of emerging good practice that could help to overcome these challenges. To help identify trends and emerging issues, the AIC convened two regional forums during the year, held in Samoa and Hong Kong, which brought together researchers, policymakers and practitioners from the Pacific and east Asia regions. As part of a major project on labour trafficking, a national research forum was held in Canberra and a related project focused on labour mobility in the Pacific region. In addition, a survey was undertaken of community attitudes towards people trafficking and reviews were undertaken of publicly available information on potential risks related to organ and child trafficking.
The AIC released a report from a study funded by Customs and Border Control and the Australian Government Attorney-General's Department (AGD) that examined the precursor chemical trade in the Pacific region and potential vulnerabilities for diversion into illicit drug manufacturing. The institute also worked with a research centre in Indonesia to examine the opportunities to undertake and detect money laundering in the timber trade.
Economic and high tech crime
A report on online child grooming was released, following a commission by the Consultative Working Group on the Misuse of Social Networking Sites for Grooming Children for Sexual Offences to search for, locate and report on the existing academic and policy-relevant literature concerning the use of social networking sites for grooming children for sexual purposes. The project report examined the extent and nature of the problem and how it is currently being addressed.
The AIC completed the Australian Business Assessment of Computer User Security (ABACUS) survey; a major national survey that sought to ascertain the extent and impact of computer security incidents on the confidentiality, integrity or availability of networks and data. Funding was provided under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002. Results of the national survey were released in a report at the Australian Federal Police's high tech crime conference and showed that more than 10 percent of businesses had experienced at least one computer security incident in 2006–07, at a cost of around $600m. See Box 2 for more details.
Consumer fraud is an ongoing and increasing risk. To raise public awareness of this risk, members of the Australasian Consumer Fraud Taskforce (which includes the AIC) participated in a month of fraud prevention awareness-raising activities and hosted an online survey in which the general public were invited to participate.
Through the online survey, the AIC collected information on the prevalence, types and cost of fraud experienced by Australian Government agencies in order to prepare an annual report on fraud against the Commonwealth for the Minister. The report not only details fraud against the Australian Government and fraud control arrangements by Australian Government agencies, but also reviews information on public sector fraud derived from surveys undertaken by non-government organisations.
A report was also released on intellectual property crime that summarised current estimates of the problem and measures in place to tackle the problem.
The largest ongoing survey of alleged offenders in Australia, DUMA collects empirical data on drug use and on self-reported offending and drug use among this group. The annual report highlights trends in detected drug use, characteristics of local drug markets and key issues, such as drug dependency, access to treatment, drug-related crime and self-reported alcohol and inhalant use. Using DUMA data, a major report was released this year on women's drug use and offending. The research highlighted significant differences between male and female offenders, and between Indigenous and non-Indigenous women offenders. Women were more likely than men to use and be dependent on illicit drugs and Indigenous women had higher rates of alcohol use and violent offending than non-Indigenous women.
Criminal justice responses to illicit drug use continued to be a major area of activity during 2008–09, with a report on police drug diversion showing that in all jurisdictions, the majority of those diverted have neither recent histories of offending nor of return to the criminal justice system in the 18 months after their diversion. Although those rates of contact varied markedly within and between jurisdictions, comparative analysis indicates that the impact of diversion was similar for like groups of offenders regardless of the jurisdiction in which they were diverted.
One AIC briefing paper for the National Cannabis Prevention and Information Centre (NCPIC) was published on the supply of cannabis into and within Australia. In addition, a policing workshop involving NSW and Victorian police was held in Mildura to improve the prevention and reduction of illicit drug use in rural and remote Indigenous communities and a report was released on the workshop. During the year, the AIC also commenced a study on alcohol and licensed premises.
Box 2: Computer security in businesses
This year, the AIC conducted the first large-scale survey of businesses in Australia on the nature, extent and effects of computer security incidents (Richards 2009). Although there has been some research and documentation of the risks to businesses in Australia and overseas, this national survey of businesses represents the most comprehensive assessment in Australia on computer security incidents and their prevention to date. The key findings of the research, summarised below, should be considered a contribution to the evidence base on computer security incidents against businesses in Australia and internationally. These findings should form part of the platform from which future research in this area might be developed. They can also be used by businesses in Australia to assess the effectiveness of their information technology security measures and to inform improvements to these measures in the future.
The ABACUS study focuses on computer-enhanced and computer-enabled offences against businesses. The survey uses the term computer security incident rather than cybercrime for two main reasons. First, its use aims to capture incidents that, although illegal, may not be considered crimes by victims themselves. Second, although all computer security incidents may be cybercrimes, not all cybercrimes are computer security incidents. The ABACUS survey focuses specifically on computer security incidents against businesses, rather than considering cybercrimes (such as online pornography offences or cyber stalking) more broadly.
In total, 4,000 businesses completed the ABACUS questionnaire, representing a response rate of 29 percent. Fourteen percent of businesses with information technology experienced one or more computer security incidents during the 12 month period from 1 July 2006 to 30 June 2007. Twelve percent experienced one to five incidents; one percent, six to 10 incidents; and one percent, more than 10 incidents. The proportion of businesses experiencing computer security incidents was found to be quite even across industry sectors. The proportion of businesses reporting no incidents ranged from 70 percent of financial and insurance services businesses to 85 percent of businesses belonging to the other services category.
The computer security incident experienced by the highest proportion of victimised businesses was a virus or other malicious code. Sixty-four percent of businesses that were victimised by one or more computer security incident (65% of small, 61% of medium, 52% of large businesses) experienced this type of attack. Viruses and other malicious code were ranked as the most significant computer security incident by the highest proportion of victimised businesses (54%). Small (57%) and medium (39%) businesses were most likely to report viruses or malicious code as their most significant incident. Large businesses (24%) were most likely to rate theft or loss of hardware as their most significant incident.
Seventy-seven percent of businesses (75% of small, 88% of medium, 95% of large businesses) that had been victimised by one or more computer security incident experienced some type of negative effect following their most significant computer security incident. The most common effect experienced was corruption of hardware or software, with 40 percent of victimised businesses experiencing this type of outcome. Forty-two percent of small, 35 percent of medium and 31 percent of large businesses reported corruption of hardware or software following their most significant computer security incident.
Richards K 2009. The Australian business assessment of computer user security: a national survey. Research and public policy series no. 102. Canberra: Australian Institute of Criminology. http://www.aic.gov.au/publications/current series/rpp/100-120/rpp102.aspx
Criminal justice responses
The National Deaths in Custody program was established in 1992 in response to the findings of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody. The program reports on annual data and long term trends in relation to the type and cause of death of persons in prison and in police custody. In 2007, there were 45 deaths in prison custody, 29 deaths in police custody and custody-related operations, and no deaths in juvenile detention. A total of 1,969 deaths have been recorded in prison custody since 1980 and a total of 150 shooting deaths have been recorded since 1990. Of the shooting deaths, 88 have involved persons shot by police or other officials and 62 have involved persons who shot themselves in the presence of police.
Using statistics from the Juveniles in Detention Monitoring Program dataset, a report providing an overview of juveniles in detention in Australia from 1981 to 2007 was released in July 2009. The report includes an analysis of the number and rate of juveniles in detention over time (with respect to a number of different variables), as well as a detailed analysis of the 2006–07 financial year. During the past year, the AIC has also summarised available data on juveniles' contact with the criminal justice system, with a report due for release in the near future.
The link between drug use and criminal offending is of great interest to policymakers and researchers alike, as initiatives such as drug diversion programs and drug courts may have a tangible influence in reducing the social and economic costs of crime and drug use to the community. A range of programs to divert offenders from the criminal justice system have been implemented throughout Australia. The AIC released a report during the year that evaluated the outcomes of police drug diversion programs, which are among the most common types of diversion. The aim of the evaluation was to assess the overall effectiveness of the range of police diversion schemes across Australia by measuring the recorded recidivism of participants post-diversion.
During the year, the AIC updated its statistics on the composition of police services throughout Australia and released a paper on a study that examined the career progression of women in policing.
The overrepresentation of Indigenous Australians in prison was the focus of a study undertaken by the AIC that found that Indigenous adult male offenders are readmitted to prison sooner and more frequently than non-Indigenous adult male offenders. The study also examined the range of correctional programs to assist the reintegration of Indigenous offenders into the community. A report and summary paper on this project was released during the year. The AIC has continued its collaboration with the Qld Department of Justice and Attorney-General with an evaluation of the operation and effectiveness of the Qld Murri Court. The Murri Court is a Qld Magistrates Court that deals with sentencing Indigenous offenders. It provides a forum in which Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders have input into the sentencing process. The evaluation, which commenced in January 2007, will review and report on the operation and outcomes of the Murri Court system over a two year period. A final report is due later in 2009. For more information on the AIC's research into Indigenous peoples and the justice system see Box 3.
Box 3: Indigenous justice research
The AIC is developing a strong research capacity in the area of Indigenous justice and has undertaken a number of research projects focusing on Indigenous issues in the past year.
In August 2008, the AIC published the Research and public policy series Reintegration of Indigenous prisoners. Drawing on support and funding from corrective services administrators in Australia and New Zealand, this study examined data on nearly 9,000 offenders imprisoned across Australia for violent offences and released over a two year period. The study also examined administrative documentation and inventories of programs and services, and data from interviews with prisoners, ex-prisoners and key informants about issues affecting the reintegration of Indigenous prisoners into the community.
The study showed that, compared with non-Indigenous prisoners, Indigenous prisoners are more likely to:
- have been imprisoned previously
- have been convicted of violent offences previously
- receive shorter sentences
- return to prison under sentence sooner
- return to prison for violent offences.
Within six months of release, 24 percent of Indigenous offenders had returned to prison, compared with 12 percent of non-Indigenous prisoners. After 24 months, the proportion of Indigenous offenders returned to prison had increased to 55 percent, while 31 percent of non-Indigenous offenders had returned.
Interviews conducted for the study identified opportunities for improvement in programs and services addressing Indigenous reintegration, including:
- making programs more Indigenous-specific through an understanding of Indigenous society and world views and more relevant to the experiences of Indigenous people
- recognising how violence manifests in, and impacts on, Indigenous communities
- addressing issues that reduce the responsiveness and participation of Indigenous prisoners in programs
- involving families, Indigenous elders and communities in programs and linking to community sources to assist with reintegration
- addressing the grief and loss that consume many Indigenous people.
In 2007, the AIC was funded by the National Indigenous Violence and Child Abuse Intelligence Task Force (NIITF) for a two year period to prepare briefing reports and conduct research to support the NIITF's objective of contributing to the national understanding of issues related to violence and child abuse in Indigenous communities. Topics covered in this work have included a survey of community safety, non-disclosure of violent crime and violence prevention programs.
The research report Risk factors in Indigenous violent victimisation used data from surveys, administrative databases and other criminal justice sources to establish rates of violence and assess how the outcomes of violence manifest across the community. The report established a quantitative basis on which to assess the wider validity of risk factors identified through many inquiries, reports and commentaries that had been mainly qualitative in nature. The report noted that the risk of victimisation tends to arise out of the confluence of several risk factors and presented analysis of data informing understanding of specific risk factors within three broad categories:
- socio-demographic variables, including age and sex of the victim
- measures of individual, family and community functionality
- resources available to a person, including material resources, education, employment, housing mobility and the influence of living in remote or non-remote areas.
Indigenous justice clearinghouse
The institute is a partner with the NSW Attorney General's Department in the Indigenous justice clearinghouse (www.indigenousjustice.gov.au). The clearinghouse was developed at the Council of Australian Governments' request to ensure that research findings and good practice are communicated to policymakers and practitioners. Key research is summarised in a series of research briefs written for the clearinghouse. A database of resources includes reports and datasets.
Bryant C & Willis M 2008. Risk factors in Indigenous violent victimisation. Technical and background paper no. 30. Canberra: Australian Institute of Criminology. http://www.aic.gov.au/publications/current series/tbp/21-40/tbp030.aspx
Willis M 2008. Reintegration of Indigenous prisoners: key findings. Trends & issues in crime and criminal justice no. 364. Canberra: Australian Institute of Criminology. http://www.aic.gov.au/publications/current series/tandi/361-380/tandi364.aspx
Willis M & Moore J-P 2008. Reintegration of Indigenous prisoners. Research and public policy series no. 90. Canberra: Australian Institute of Criminology. http://www.aic.gov.au/publications/current series/rpp/81-99/rpp90.aspx
The Victorian juvenile justice outcome project commenced in 2006–07 and involved examining the use of recidivism as a measure of juvenile justice outcomes and alternative measures that could be used. Funded by the Juvenile Justice Service of the Office for Children in the Victorian Department of Human Services, a final report on this project was provided to the Department. It included a longitudinal analysis of 10 years of recidivism outcomes for juveniles who have had contact with the juvenile justice system since 1997.
Capacity building initiatives ranged from the establishment of collaborative research and development arrangements with partner organisations to formal workshop and conference presentations. Collaborative research and capacity building continued with the WA Office of Crime Prevention (OCP). In addition, a project funded by the National Drug Law Enforcement Research Fund sought to develop the capacity and skills for national implementation of the drug law enforcement performance measurement framework developed by the AIC.
The AIC released a report on public perceptions of, and attitudes to, crime and justice in Australia. Based on an analysis of questions in the 2007 Australian Survey of Social Attitudes (AuSSA), the research found that members of the public tend to overestimate the amount of crime in the community and underestimate the severity of the justice system's response to crime. The public has more confidence in the police than the court system and little or no confidence in the corrections system to rehabilitate offenders. See Box 4 for more details.
Box 4: Perceptions of criminal justice
Criminal justice researchers and policymakers the world over are aware of a mismatch between the public view and the reality of how much recorded crime there is and what happens to offenders after they are charged. This report provides the most recent evidence of this mismatch. The 2007 AuSSA included a range of questions about what Australians think about crime and criminal justice. Several of the questions have been asked in previous surveys and therefore provide a picture of trends over time, but some were new for this survey and were commissioned by the AIC.
AuSSA is a biennial mail survey that provides data on key questions relating to Australians' social attitudes and behaviours over time. AuSSA 2007 consisted of a cross-sectional mail survey completed by 8,133 adults from all Australian states and territories. Three versions of the survey were fielded with final response rates ranging from 39 to 42 percent. To produce Australian estimates, the data have been weighted by education level to correct for differences in education level between survey respondents and the general population.
The AIC report presents key findings on perceptions of crime, fear of crime, administration of justice and changes in attitudes over time (Roberts & Indermaur 2009). Approximately one in eight adult Australians (12.9%) view crime, drugs or terrorism as the most important issue facing Australia today. A large majority of the public has inaccurate views about the occurrence of crime and the severity of sentencing. Consistent with previous Australian and international research, the Australian public perceives crime to be increasing when it isn't, overestimates the proportion of crime that involves violence and underestimates the proportion of charged persons who go on to be convicted and imprisoned.
The majority of Australians are not very worried about being a victim of a range of crimes. However, this still leaves a large majority who are 'fairly' or 'very' worried. On average, females reported higher rates of fear than males, with fear increasing as perceptions of incivilities increased. A major new fear is worry about identity theft and credit card fraud.
There is wide variation in views as to the efficacy of the government in controlling crime in Australia. Approximately one-third each of Australians report that the government is successful, unsuccessful and neither successful nor unsuccessful in controlling crime. The majority of Australians express quite a lot of confidence in the police to solve crime (74%), to respond quickly to crime (54.3%) and to act fairly (73.7%), despite one-quarter of the population believing there was a lot of police corruption in their state or territory.
Public support for, or approval of, the death penalty has consistently declined since 1996 and is now well below the 50 percent mark (43.5%) for the third measurement in a row (the first being in 2002). The proportion of Australians who agree that stiffer sentences are needed has gradually declined from a peak of 84.8 percent in 1987 to 71.7 percent in 2007.
Roberts L & Indermaur D 2009. What Australians think about crime and justice: results from the 2007 Survey of Social Attitudes. Research and public policy series no. 101. Canberra: Australian Institute of Criminology. http://www.aic.gov.au/publications/current series/rpp/100-120/rpp101.aspx
Bushfires have a major impact in Australia. Often these fires are deliberately lit but studies analysing prevalence and distribution are sparse and have focused on isolated areas or specific data collections. In partnership with the ACT Department of Justice and Community Safety and with funding from the Bushfire Cooperative Research Centre, the AIC completed its final year of research into deliberately lit bushfires. Based on its extensive analysis of vegetation fires attended by Australian fire agencies and other research on offenders, the AIC produced a report on the prevention of deliberately lit fires, which showed how various crime prevention approaches could inform efforts to reduce and prevent bushfires. The report attracted considerable media and public interest. The AGD convened a national workshop on the prevention of bushfire arson and a key outcome of the meeting was agreement to progress a national strategy and related activities. The institute will undertake several of these together with the Bushfire Cooperative Research Centre and the Australasian Fire & Emergency Service Authorities Council.
The second annual report of the National Firearms Theft Monitoring Program was released this year. The report provides information on all incidents of firearms theft reported to police throughout Australia for the 2006–07 financial year. It examines the characteristics of stolen firearms, circumstances of the theft incident, modus operandi of offenders, storage arrangements and compliance with firearms laws and regulations, recovery of firearms, prosecution of offenders and use of stolen firearms in subsequent illegal activities.
Box 5: What works to reduce bushfire arson?
Approximately half of all vegetation fires throughout Australia are the result of deliberate ignitions. An AIC report (Muller 2009) seeks to inform fire prevention policies and practices by examining what is known about the risk factors for arson and who commits it. The report discusses the main crime prevention principles and approaches by linking them to examples of programs that target the environment, the community and known offenders. A wide range of measures are provided as examples, including those related to controlling access, fuel reduction, removing abandoned cars and various community awareness campaigns that have targeted specific groups and/or communities. However, the report concludes that more investment is required in impact evaluation to ensure that the efficacy of discreet programs is better understood and that, to be more collaborative and strategic, crime prevention approaches in the future will need to involve fire and other agencies and local communities.
Deliberate bushfires constitute a considerable proportion of the fire suppression activities of Australian fire agencies. Although these deliberate bushfires tend to be smaller and more accessible than natural fires, they tend to be lit in areas, such as interface zones, in which they can do considerable damage, requiring a prompt suppression response. In addition to the potential damage to life and property, responding to these unnecessary fires can monopolise the resources of fire agencies.
Legal responses to deliberate bushfires should not be ignored, but in many cases there is insufficient evidence to prosecute any individual for lighting them. Preventing the fire before it actually occurs should be the preferred option where possible, avoiding the potential damage that the fire would have caused and freeing up the resources of the fire services for suppression of other fires. Prevention is neither incompatible with criminal justice sanctions for bushfire arson, nor a soft option alternative to punishment, but rather another valuable tool to reduce deliberate bushfires in Australia.
Source: Combined Australian fire agencies [computer data file]
Although little has been written in the past about applying crime prevention techniques to bushfire arson, many of the approaches examined in the report are already being used in some form in different areas. In general, however, agencies employing these techniques have lacked a common vocabulary to explain what they are doing, particularly to potential funding bodies, and they have not been subject to any formal evaluation of effectiveness. It is hoped that knowledge of the principles that underlie crime prevention, along with examples of how these principles have been applied in certain situations, might inspire creative crime prevention approaches that will work for agencies in their particular locations.
Muller D 2009. Using crime prevention to reduce deliberate bushfires in Australia. Research and public policy series no. 98. Canberra: Australian Institute of Criminology. http://www.aic.gov.au/publications/current series/rpp/81-99/rpp98.aspx
Violent crime, causing (or threatening) physical harm or death to the victim, often attracts more attention and debate than other forms of crime. While police records of rates of assault and sexual assault have increased since 1990, homicide and armed robbery rates have declined overall. The AIC publishes annual reports from the homicide and armed robbery monitoring programs that provide information on the incidents, victims and offenders for the year, as well as indicating changes in trends since the collections began. The most recent annual reports show a slight increase in armed robbery over the previous year, with 6,640 incidents in 2006, and a decrease in homicide consistent with a long term trend toward fewer incidents both per capita and in absolute terms since 1989.
In the past year, the AIC has undertaken major research on domestic-related homicides. In addition to an international conference on the topic, the AIC has undertaken work with the Qld police on a project that examined risk assessment for domestic violence and domestic-related homicides, and with the NT police on Indigenous homicides. A paper on measuring family violence was released during the year and reports and papers from the conference and based on the project findings are scheduled for release in 2009–10. The AIC is also a partner in the research team responsible for the national survey of community attitudes to violence against women and children, which will help inform future policy and practice to promote the safety of women and children.
Another significant area of research has been on violence and child abuse in Indigenous communities. Funded under the Australian Crime Commission's (ACC) NIITF, the AIC has reviewed available evidence on violent offending and victimisation and trialled community safety surveys in key regions across Australia. A paper was released on violent victimisation in Indigenous communities and more papers and reports will be released in the next financial year.
Communicating and promoting research in crime and justice
The AIC is an important source of criminological research and knowledge for a wide range of audiences including criminal justice agencies, academics, federal, state and local governments, law enforcement agencies and community organisations.
The AIC undertook a number of activities to actively communicate its research during 2008–09. Research publications were distributed to stakeholders and subscribers both electronically and in hard copy, published on the AIC's website and supported by media releases and notices to web-based information services. Publications are listed in Appendixes 1 and 2.
The AIC held conferences, occasional seminars, forums and roundtables to educate and engage with a range of stakeholders. Details of these are in Appendixes 4 and 5. AIC staff members have presented their work to meetings of criminal justice practitioners, government agencies, academics, politicians and other interested parties, both in Australia and abroad. These presentations are listed in Appendix 3.
The AIC's website (http://www.aic.gov.au) is the institute's principal means of ensuring wide dissemination of the results of its research. It provides information about the work of the AIC and acts as a gateway to information on crime and criminal justice in Australia. Print versions of AIC publications are available for sale from the institute. Electronic versions of all publications are available free of charge on the website at http://www.aic.gov.au/publications.aspx.
Each year, the AIC publishes Australian crime: facts and figures; a summary of up-to-date Australian statistics on crime and the criminal justice system and of trends in key crimes. The publication is regularly among our most popular, both in print and on the website. The statistics are also reproduced with the relevant subjects on the AIC website.
Through submissions to inquiries on topics such as gambling, emerging issues in alcohol and drug use impacting on law enforcement, more than 40 presentations at conferences, the organisation of workshops and roundtables and participation in advisory and expert groups, AIC staff have communicated findings from research to stakeholders and policy and practitioner audiences, as well as the general public.
The JV Barry Library responds to public and general enquiries, guiding people to the AIC website, publications and services such as the CINCH database wherever possible.
The AIC has a publishing program that includes the following products:
- Research and public policy series (RPPs)—this series includes original research papers, shorter conference proceedings and statistical works designed to inform the public policy debate
- Monitoring reports—a new series which includes annual reports from AIC monitoring programs that capture data across Australia for a range of crime and justice issues
- Trends & issues in crime and criminal justice (T&Is)—concise, peer-reviewed papers on criminological topics for policymakers and practitioners
- Technical and background papers (TBPs)—technical reports containing statistical and methodological material produced as part of the AIC research process
- Australian crime: facts and figures—an annual publication providing a statistical overview of the most recent national information on crime in Australia, serving as a ready reference. The publication presents statistics on the numbers and types of recorded crime, their place of occurrence, victim details, responses of criminal justice agencies and government resources to deal with crime and corrections
- Research in practice—fact sheets, tip sheets and case studies from evidence-based research for practitioners in the criminal justice field
- One and two-page fact sheets and bulletins—timely publications on a broad range of topics, these include the Transnational crime brief, AICrime reduction matters, Bushfire arson bulletin and Crime facts info series.
During 2008–09, the AIC produced a significant range of high quality publications, including:
- Australian crime: facts and figures 2008
- 12 T&I papers
- 10 RPP series reports
- 4 Monitoring reports
- 3 TBPs
- 33 fact sheets
- 1 newsletter
- the 2007–08 annual reports of the AIC and the CRC.
The first edition of the new AIC newsletter, brief, was released in April 2009 to provide an informative summary of recent AIC research and activities. Brief is published in-house and distributed electronically to stakeholders three times a year.
The AIC also produces reports to clients on a consulting basis. A full list of AIC publications is provided in Appendix 1. Articles and papers by staff in non-AIC publications are listed in Appendix 2.
Review and publication process
All publication submissions are subject to a rigorous review process before they are accepted for publication. Drafts are reviewed by AIC staff, including the Director and senior analysts, and are subject to external review. All publications are edited to conform to the AIC publishing style guide.
The AIC has been accepted by the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations as an accredited publisher for purposes of university funding under its higher education publishing requirements. This accreditation covers the peer-reviewed and commercially published T&I papers and RPP series. The institute is very grateful to those who have contributed to the peer review process during the year.
The institute hosted four major conference events in the past year.
The 21st annual conference of the Australian and New Zealand Society of Criminology (ANZSOC) Criminology: linking theory, policy and practice was hosted by the AIC at the National Convention Centre in Canberra from 26–28 November 2008. The conference was attended by more than 260 delegates from around the world and showcased the considerable applied, policy- and practice-relevant international criminological research being undertaken.
The AIC hosted the International conference on homicide: domestic-related homicide in Queensland from 3–5 December 2008. The first of its kind anywhere in the world, the conference highlighted research and practice from a host of highly regarded international experts in the field of domestic-related homicide and will culminate in the publication of a set of conference papers on this important topic. For more information on this conference see Box 6.
Making a difference: responding to need in developing, implementing and evaluating correctional programs was held in conjunction with the Victorian Department of Justice in Melbourne from 5–6 March 2009. The conference brought together policymakers and practitioners involved with correctional programs and services to share knowledge and directions in correctional programming. A key theme of the conference was the rehabilitative needs of Indigenous and young adult offenders.
The AML/CTF conference 2009: Managing risk: Australian and international perspectives was held in Sydney on 1–2 April 2009. This inaugural regional flagship event was co-hosted by the AGD, Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre, the AIC and the Australian Bankers' Association. It saw more than 300 delegates discuss current thinking and best practices in implementing AML/CTF legislation, as well as providing an insight into current international research, standards and objectives, and useful knowledge to motivate better compliance from reporting entities.
Box 6: Domestic-related homicide
Funded under the Australian Government's 2007 election commitment to reduce violence against women and children, the AIC's highly successful International conference on homicide: domestic-related homicide was held from 3–5 December 2008, with more than 200 delegates attending.
Homicide is the most serious criminal offence in every country in the world and this conference highlighted research and practice in the field. The conference attracted much attention and both national and international interest.
The institute was honoured to include the Hon Dame Carol Kidu, Papua New Guinea Minister for Social Development, as a keynote speaker. Plenary speakers included international researchers Professor Rebecca Dobash, University of Manchester; Professor Russell Dobash, University of Manchester; Dr Becky Block, Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority; Dr Marieke Liem, Utrecht University and Dr Myrna Dawson of the University of Guelph.
A major focus of the conference was domestic-related homicide. In Australia, and other countries, this type of homicide is proving the most resistant to prevention efforts. The conference brought together a number of international and national experts with a wealth of practical knowledge and experience on domestic-related homicide.
Participants included law enforcement representatives, academics and students, practitioners working in domestic violence, health and crime prevention and youth services, policymakers and interested members of the general public.
The conference revealed a strong dedication to prevention by police, researchers and practitioners, with many of the presentations focusing on this challenge. A notable shift in practice and thought was demonstrated, which is a sign of progress in efforts to prevent and reduce domestic violence. Feedback received from different groups at the conference was positive—in particular from the police.
Participants gained value from the conference through their exposure to the latest research, with the collaborative nature of much of the work presented encouraging many to see the benefits of working with researchers on the topic.
An innovative format was adopted for the conference, which featured panel sessions on topical issues in homicide.
Participants in the domestic-related homicide and the criminal justice system panel included Jonty Bush, Homicide Victims Support Group, Queensland; Ross Ray QC, President, Law Council of Australia; Paul Rutledge, Deputy Director, Qld Director of Public Prosecutions and Brian Wilkins, Head of Homicide, Qld Police.
Each of the plenary speakers' presentations is on the AIC website at http://www.aic.gov.au/events/aic%20upcoming%20events/2008/homicide.aspx.
A compilation of selected papers and presentations is expected to be published by the institute later this year.
Roundtable discussions facilitate exploration of contemporary issues related to public policy by small groups of experts and stakeholders. The AIC organises these discussions to develop and maintain a common, current knowledge base relating to significant issues and to encourage strategic information sharing between policy and program agencies and practitioners.
Nineteen roundtable discussions were held in 2008–09 and are listed in Appendix 5.
Occasional seminars are held at the AIC on a variety of topics. Speakers are invited to make a short presentation in their areas of expertise to invited participants and AIC staff. Forthcoming seminars are promoted on the AIC's website and via email to the institute's publications and events subscription list. Appendix 4 lists the 12 public seminars hosted by the AIC this financial year. Details of AIC seminars can be found at http://www.aic.gov.au/events.aspx.
The AIC held a number of in-house seminars during the year at which staff members presented findings from their research or rehearsed papers to be delivered to other meetings.
The media continue to consult the AIC on a wide range of criminological issues, seeking comment on AIC work, other research findings and general background information and statistics on crime within Australia. The table below shows the extent of this consultation for 2008–09.
|Number of media requests||273|
|Number of media interviews||137|
|Number of AIC media releases||15|
|Number of releases of AIC products by the Minister/other Ministers||5|
New AIC reports on cybercrime (particularly stored-value cards), Indigenous justice, bushfire arson, drug use, homicide and public attitudes to crime received considerable media coverage. The domestic homicide conference also raised considerable media interest. Along with an increase in the number of media mentions of the AIC, the institute conducted or facilitated 137 media interviews by its staff or other researchers on crime and justice issues. This followed the provision of professional media training for senior institute staff by an external consultant in September 2008.
The main topic areas where the AIC was mentioned in the media were sexual assault, alcohol and violence, firearms, cybercrime and bushfire arson, with occasional mentions of many other areas of AIC research. The use of AIC research in blogs also continued throughout the year and, as in previous years, often used older reports and information.
Submissions to government inquiries
The AIC presented submissions to three inquiries this year:
- Parliamentary Joint Commission of Public Accounts and Audit inquiry into the effect of the efficiency dividend on small agencies
- National Drug Law Enforcement Research Fund environmental scan of existing and emerging issues in alcohol and other drugs affecting law enforcement in Australia
- Productivity Commission inquiry into gambling.
The visiting research fellows program offers positions for three to six months to scholars who already have an established career in research and experience in public policy. Fellows are expected to contribute to the institute's publications and communications activities and to work with research staff in their area of expertise. Two international scholars took part in the institute's research fellows scheme during the year (see Box 7).
Box 7: Visiting research fellows
The role of visiting research fellow enables eminent researchers from overseas and from elsewhere in Australia to spend some concentrated time engaging with AIC staff and our program of work. It provides an opportunity for AIC staff, our partners and key stakeholders to take advantage of the individual practitioner's expertise in both a formal and informal way and to help gain new ideas and insight about our work and future trends.
Professor Michael Levi was a visiting fellow at the institute in April 2009. He has been Professor of Criminology at Cardiff University since 1991 and has conducted international research on the control of white collar and organised crime, corruption and money laundering/financing of terrorism since 1972. Professor Levi was the dinner speaker at the international anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing conference co-hosted by the AIC in April 2009. As well as presenting to seminars and conferences for the institute, Professor Levi provided advice on the Commonwealth fraud report and other institute publications and research.
Professor Paul Ekblom was a visiting research fellow in November–December 2008. He is the Professor of Design Against Crime and Co-Director of the University of the Arts, London Research Centre for Design Against Crime at the Central St Martins College of Art and Design and a distinguished international expert on design against crime and knowledge management for crime prevention.
While with the AIC, Professor Ekblom presented to the ANZSOC annual conference and discussed future trends in crime prevention and the role of design against crime in the Australian environment with the Minister for Home Affairs. He also delivered an occasional seminar and a workshop for staff from the AGD on the role of CCTV in crime prevention. He presented to a meeting of the Australian and New Zealand Crime Prevention Senior Officers' Group on the principles of design against crime. He also presented a public seminar to local government planners, police, architects, property developers and those engaged in the private security industry in Sydney.
Australian Crime and Violence Prevention Awards
A highlight for the AIC each year is the presentation of the ACVPA. These are designed to reward and showcase good practice in the prevention or reduction of violence and other types of crimes in Australia, to encourage public initiatives and to assist governments to identify and develop practical projects that will reduce violence and other types of crime in the community. The annual awards are sponsored by the Commonwealth Heads of Government and the Ministerial Council for Police and Emergency Management—Police (MCPEMP). They include monetary awards of more than $100,000.
The 2008 awards were presented to the winners by the Honourable Mr Bob Debus, then Minister for Home Affairs, on 16 October 2008. There were six national award winners. Box 8 highlights these projects.
Box 8: Australian Crime and Violence Prevention National Awards 2008
Six groundbreaking projects involving rugby league players, Indigenous elders, survivors of domestic violence, police and anti-crime agencies won national recognition at the 2008 ACVPA. Three of the projects were from the community sector, two from police and one from government.
Domestic Violence: It's Not Our Game (Qld)—a groundbreaking campaign in Far North Queensland that uses the popular local rugby league team, the Stingers, as role models to create a culture in which domestic violence is not acceptable. It has met its goals of creating a safer community with a 55 percent drop in domestic and family violence rates.
Groote Eylandt and Milyakburra Liquor Management (NT)—a unique crime prevention project, initiated by the community, targeting the 4,000 predominantly Indigenous members of the local community to reduce alcohol-related violence. The introduction of a liquor management plan managed by local stakeholders has seen alcohol-related crime rates drop by as much as 60 to 80 percent and employment rates rise.
Active Partnerships Model (WA)—an internationally acclaimed crime prevention model delivered by the WA OCP that has successfully engaged more than 330 partners and 129 local governments to reduce crime rates. The model is based on local identification and management of problems. As well as reducing offending and making communities safer, outcomes include the development of trust within communities, operating partnerships, flexible and continually adapting programs, and community support in other areas.
Safe at Home (Tas)—a revolutionary, whole of government response to domestic violence that unites police, prosecutors, counsellors, legal aid, court support and child protection workers in an integrated approach to criminal justice and intervention. The collaboration is founded on the principle of the primacy of safety of the victim and has led to increased community confidence, improved working relationships between agencies and benefits to service delivery in other areas.
Operation Flinders (SA)—a world-leading crime prevention project with 14 to 18 year olds who have offended, or are deemed at risk of substance abuse, self harm or criminal activity. Operation Flinders takes them on an eight day, 100 km trek to effect a positive life change through improved self esteem, leadership and responsibility. The program has catered for around 300 participants each year since 1993.
Violence No Way (Qld)—this project has empowered a community in Far North Queensland to reduce the incidence of family, domestic and street violence. A training program to teach protective behaviour to school age children also makes it clear that if 'you abuse you lose'. Other activities include targeted interagency steering groups to prevent and respond to family violence, supported with integrated case management and community education.
As well as providing information about the institute's activities and access to the full text of AIC publications, the website provides information about crime and criminal justice in Australia and overseas through its subjects, AIC conferences and statistics sections. There are more than 50 subject pages, providing links to hundreds of other websites and resources.
A more accurate tool for measuring website visits was introduced this year, so figures are not directly comparable with previous years. During the year, there was an average of 38,665 successful requests for pages per day, or 1.3 million requests per month. March 2009 was the busiest month, with just under two million requests for pages from over one million visitors. In general, the months of high usage coincided with the end of the Australian and northern hemisphere academic years. The most requested AIC publication during the year was Australian crime: facts and figures 2007. Searching within the website is undertaken via the website's search engine, Funnelback. Usage of this internal search engine fluctuates throughout the year, with an average of 14,200 successful queries per month.
A major initiative during the year was the full implementation of an interactive web analysis tool. This allows web visitors to construct tables and figures dynamically, changing variables as they choose. The first dataset to be made available is from DUMA, allowing cross tabulation by positive drug test, offence, self-reported drug use, location, gender, marital status, age, residence, education and income. Information is presented at a point in time, or showing trends over time.
With a view to improving access to the information the website provides, the second stage of its structural redevelopment was undertaken this year. This included the development and implementation of new information architecture for the site.
Separate websites for the CRC (http://www.criminologyresearchcouncil.gov.au) and the Indigenous justice clearinghouse (http://www.indigenousjustice.gov.au) are also hosted by the AIC. The ANZSOC website was hosted on a fee-for-service basis.
The resource base of the Indigenous justice clearinghouse is drawn from the JV Barry Library database. One hundred and twenty new items (books, reports, articles and conference papers) were added during the year. Following the review of the pilot phase of the clearinghouse, the news section was enhanced, with increased effort put into making it informative and current.
JV Barry Library
The AIC's crime and justice knowledge centre staff continued to collaborate with AIC researchers, through literature searching and current awareness services, to ensure that AIC work reflects current, reliable, relevant information in the public domain. They also provided research, current awareness resources and access to a collection of unique resources to other government departments (both state and federal), academics, post-graduate students and the public. Library staff bring key new material to the attention of individual researchers to assist with their current projects. The library also undertakes tailored literature searches and other reference work to support individual research projects. Major reference work was undertaken during the year to support research projects on cybercrime, sex trafficking, money laundering, diversion of Indigenous offenders, firearms, bushfire arson, costs of crime, performance measurement in law enforcement, pornography, juvenile gangs, organ trafficking, emissions trading fraud, drug driving, wrongful convictions, alcohol and violence, crime modelling, violence in the taxi industry, green criminology, mental health and the criminal justice system, and sexual assault legislation.
Current awareness alerts, which list new reports, journal articles, books and websites are produced on crime prevention, cybercrime, drugs, evaluation, financial crime, homicide, Indigenous justice, juvenile justice, people trafficking and smuggling, and recidivism. A new alert on sexual assault was introduced during the year. Although they are produced for AIC researchers, the subject alerts are also distributed by email to interested stakeholders.
The library manages contributions to three of the AIC's monitoring programs—Deaths in Custody, Commonwealth Fraud reporting and the National Homicide Monitoring Program—and to cybercrime and bushfire arson projects by identifying news articles on these topics. In addition, it monitors media articles about the AIC's research impact.
An updated, streamlined version of the library's subject thesaurus was developed for the institute's new records management system in June. This work will be built on for a major redevelopment of the library database and flow-through into CINCH.
The CINCH bibliographic database is compiled and maintained by the JV Barry Library. The database is one of the family of abstract and index databases hosted by Informit (see http://informit.com.au for more information). CINCH aims to include all new material about crime and criminal justice in Australasia—books, reports, journal articles, websites, conference proceedings and papers—with high quality subject indexing and abstracts. CINCH records are also available in the JV Barry Library's catalogue on the AIC website.
At the end of June 2009, the database contained 57,057 records.
Contributions and networks
Apart from participating in the national interlibrary loan network and contributing to the national bibliographic database, the library contributes important news from Australia and overseas to the Crimnet email discussion list of criminal justice researchers, practitioners and policymakers in Australia. Other discussion lists to which contributions, including notice of new AIC publications and events, are made cover Indigenous affairs, Australian policy and international crime prevention. Through the World Criminal Justice Libraries Network, news of AIC events and outputs reaches academic and policy organisations throughout the world.
The library continues to build relationships with the emergency management sector through involvement with the Australasian Libraries in the Emergency Sector (ALIES) group, particularly through its annual meeting. The library is a member of the planning committee for the ALIES 2010 meeting. ALIES is sponsored by AGD. Through the ALIES consortium arrangement, the library was able to subscribe at a special rate to a wider range of Australian databases through Informit this year.
The other major network of which the library is a member is the Australian Government Libraries Information Network (AGLIN). AGLIN's members are all Australian Government agencies and the group promotes the work of libraries and information services within government, as well as offering practical assistance through training, reciprocal document delivery and consortium arrangements for purchases.
Membership of these networks enables the library to ask for assistance from colleagues around the world to meet the needs of AIC researchers.
The AIC continues to send a monthly batch of electronic records to Libraries Australia for addition to the database. Libraries Australia then either matches them to existing records and adds a holding record or creates a new catalogue entry.
The library provides loans, interlibrary loans and document delivery services on a basis of partnerships and interlibrary cooperation. These activities enable the library to deliver publications, documents and information to AIC staff that are not available in the AIC's own collection. The library continues to actively support cooperative interlibrary lending schemes and utilises the Libraries Australia document delivery service for the rest of its interlibrary loans work. Although full-text fee or service databases are increasingly used, there has not been an appreciable decrease in the number of articles requested by AIC staff or external libraries.
As in previous years, the library was a net lender in the interlibrary loan system, indicating that although small, the collection is valued nationally for its holdings and service. The costs of borrowing from other libraries for AIC staff are more than covered by charges received for material supplied to other libraries.
|Records added to CINCH||1,525||1,483|
|Original records to Libraries Australia||56||236|
|Copy records to Libraries Australia||162||177|
|Loans to AIC staff||960||891|
|Items borrowed from other libraries||80||82|
|Journal articles supplied by other libraries||158||121|
|Items lent to other libraries||289||192|
|Journal articles supplied to other libraries||690||412|
Outputs and outcomes
The following table shows outputs and outcomes for projects current in 2008–09. It can be difficult for a research agency to identify outcomes within the same year as the research was undertaken, as it sometimes takes several years for its impact to be apparent. The value of research information is not only in the initial study. Often the data may be reanalysed to answer a different question or may be used to track changes over time or incorporated within a larger study. Monitoring trends requires significant investment in long term data collection systems and continued support for specific research that helps interpret trends and ensures there is policy- and practice-relevant outcomes.
The institute reviews client satisfaction at the end of each project and monitors public and media interest in its work. References in the media, literature and in parliament to our work and publications are noted and a watching brief is kept on legislative reforms. However, it can be difficult to discern if a particular legislative change was the direct result of one particular piece of research. More often than not, it results from a culmination of research and public concern about a particular matter. The best example of how AIC work has had an impact on practice and policy deliberations was the interest in the research on bushfire arson and subsequent initiatives, including the national forum on the prevention of bushfire arson.
The AIC's work was mentioned substantively 12 times in Federal Parliament during the year. References were made to gun control, violence against women, domestic and family violence, ACVPA, human trafficking, money laundering, the ABACUS report and bushfire arson.
|Key: T&I=Trends & issues in crime and criminal justice; RPP=Research and public policy paper; TBP=Technical and background paper; MR=Monitoring report; BFAB=Bushfire arson bulletin; TCB=Transnational crime brief; RIP=Research in practice|
|National Homicide Monitoring Program||MR 1|
Increased public and key stakeholder awareness of homicide trends
Homicide data used as indicator of national efforts to overcome Indigenous disadvantage
|National Armed Robbery Monitoring Program||MR 4||Increased awareness among the public and industry groups of armed robbery characteristics and trends|
|Violent crime and child abuse in Indigenous communities||
TBP 30 2
consultancy reports to client
|Improved evidence on violent victimisation in Indigenous communities|
|ACT family violence program||T&I 367||Informed policy deliberations on performance measurement of responses to family violence|
|National Firearms Theft Monitoring Program||
Increased awareness of the nature and extent of firearms theft among the public and key stakeholders
Informed the deliberations of the MCPEMP Firearms Policy Working Group
BFAB 54 & 55
Increased awareness and knowledge of prevention among key stakeholders
Improved public awareness of bushfire arson
|DUMA||RPP 93 & 99|
Improved evidence base on illicit drug use and offending with data cited in international and national reports on drug trends
Improved evidence of women’s distinctive past and current offending and drug use characteristics
|Police drug diversion: reducing contact with the criminal justice system||RPP 97|
Improved evidence base on the impacts of police drug diversion
Informed national drug policy deliberations
|NCPIC||NCPIC briefing paper||Increased awareness among key criminal justice stakeholders and practitioners|
|Transnational and organised crime|
|Precursor trade environment in the Pacific||RPP 96|
Improved the evidence base about regional vulnerabilities
Increased stakeholder awareness of the issues
|Human trafficking research program||
TCB 1 & 3
Increased awareness among key stakeholders and general public of issues
Informed policy developments and reform
|Crime in the Australian fishing industry||T&I 366|
Informed policy and practice responses to illegal activities
Increased public awareness of the issue
|Legislation related to outlaw motorcycle gangs||RIP 2||Improved public knowledge of current legislative provisions related to organised crime groups|
|Economic and high tech crime|
|AML/CTF research program||
Increased public awareness of money laundering risks
Increased public awareness of legislative responses to proceeds of crime
|Online child grooming||RPP 103|
Informed policy developments
Increased public awareness of risks and protective measures
|Improved evidence base on the nature and extent of cybercrime against business and of measures in place to reduce and prevent such crime|
|Intellectual property crime||RPP 94||Improved evidence base on the scope and nature of the crime|
|Criminal justice responses|
|National Deaths in Custody Monitoring Program||MR 3||Monitoring implementation and impact of Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody recommendations|
|Reintegrating Indigenous prisoners||
Informed corrections policy and practice
Improved evidence base on post-release outcomes and good practice in service provision
Improved evidence of current and changing public perceptions and attitudes to crime and justice
Increased public awareness of public perceptions and attitudes
|Victorian youth justice outcomes||Final report provided to client||Informed policy deliberations on outcome indicators|
|Indigenous victims of family violence||Research incorporated into ACT report|
Improved evidence base on Indigenous victims' needs
Informed victim policy and practice
|Court outcomes for firearms offences||TBP 31|
Improved evidence base on court outcomes
Informed policy deliberations on firearms offence legislation
|Women in policing||T&I 370||Improved evidence base on career trajectories of women in policing|
|Fraud against the Commonwealth||Report provided to the Minister|
Monitoring trends in the number and type of fraud incidents, and responses to those incidents
Informing fraud prevention policy and practice
|Crime prevention capacity building||7 AICrime reduction matters||Increased public and key stakeholder awareness of crime prevention good practice|
|NT education campaign on restricted material||T&I 368||Increased public awareness of current evidence on adolescence, pornography and harm|
|Indigenous justice clearinghouse||Website maintenance and updating; review of research briefs||Increased stakeholder access to relevant information and reports|