Crime statistics have been used and abused in the past to suit a variety of interests. Across the country policy decisions have been made, laws have been drafted and immense sums of money have been invested on the basis of information which could only have been fragmentary and has generally lacked perspective. This has not been the administrators' fault. Traditionally, precise information about crime is difficult to obtain on a national basis in federal countries. In Australia, even the basic tool of Uniform Crime Statistics" is still in the early stages. The task of the Australian Institute of Criminology from its inception, therefore, was to remedy this dearth of information and to relate statistical data in such a way that its use could be improved, decisions could be streamlined and opportunities for abuse would be minimised. It is always open to the media to alarm the public; and the law and order and human rights lobbies have to be balanced with precise information. Such information should be not only on crime but on what crime means within the general context of social and economic changes. These changes have included in the past decades an increasing population, changes in the age structure, an inordinate indulgence in law making, health and welfare provisions, increased numbers of police and large investments on the prisons.
Source book of Australian criminal & social statistics 1900-1980
Australian Institute of Criminology