This compendium of information is intended to serve as a ready reference about current trends and patterns in crime and criminal justice in Australia. It covers different types of recorded crimes, their place of occurrence, victim details, responses of criminal justice agencies, and government resources directed to deal with crime.
Crime statistics have always generated controversy among the public, the media, justice practitioners and policy makers. For 2004-05 Australia's recurrent expenditure on the criminal justice system was around $8 billion; on any day during 2004-05 an average of 52,506 offenders were serving a community corrections order; and on 30 June 2005 there were 45,201 sworn state and territory police officers and 9,750 personnel working in Australian Government law enforcement agencies and 25,353 offenders in prisons.
The availability of national statistics on major crimes is relatively recent and still a work in progress. Current data suggest that property crime has been declining while trends in the much smaller category of violent crimes are mixed - some have declined, some have remained stable, and there is evidence of increases in other categories.
However, we lack nationally consistent data on many emerging crimes such as cybercrime and categories of crime such as fraud and family violence. Crimes that communities report in crime victim surveys as being of concern to them - disorderly behaviour in public and graffiti - are also not recorded. We lack national data on how many people are arrested by police in a year and their offending profile. Many countries have established national offender databases and allow researchers access in order to provide the analysis necessary for good decision making by governments and the criminal justice sector.
The data in this compendium primarily comprise national figures; where national data are not available other sources are used. Readers looking for additional information should consult the appropriate publications and websites included in the reference section of this document.
The Australian Institute of Criminology (AIC) produces publications from fact sheets to detailed reports, on a wide range of issues. For further information visit the AIC website , or contact the Institute.