Crime in Australia

Crime in Australia is combated by the Australian police and other agencies.

The number of offenders proceeded against by police during 2013-2014 increased by 4%.[1]

In 2013-2014 the offender rate, which is the number of offenders in the population of Australia, increased by 2%. The number of Youth offenders fell by 4%.[1]

The most prevalent offences are Public Disorder offences, followed by illicit drug offences. The largest percentage increase are sexual assault and related offences which increased by 19%.[1]

From the National Australian Homicide Monitoring program report 2012: "The homicide rate has continued to decline each year, since 1989-90. The periods 2010-2011 and 2011-2012 are the lowest homicide rate since data collection began in 1989"[2]

In fact, the Australian murder rate has fallen to close to one per 100,000 while the US rate is still roughly at 4.5 per 100,000 – over four times as high. Moreover, robberies in Australia occur at only about half the rate of the US (58 in Australia versus 113.1 per 100,000 in the US in 2012).[3]

Crime statistics

Data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) shows that during the 2009/10 year police took action against 375,259 people,[4] up by 4.8 percent from 2008/09 figures.[4] Young offenders aged 10 to 19 comprised about 29 percent of the total offender population across Australia.[4] In the 2009/10 financial year, 84,100 women had police action taken against them across Australia, up by six percent compared with the previous year.[4] 290,400 men had police action taken against them in 2009/10, an annual increase of 4 percent.[4] About 30 percent of the women were accused of theft, whereas the most common principal offence for men was intention to cause injury and matters related to public order.[4] Research from the Australian Institute of Criminology, shows that from 1990 until the middle of 2011, 40 percent of people who were fatally shot by police were suffering from a mental illness. In NSW, the fatalities included Adam Salter (shot dead in Sydney in 2009); Elijah Holcombe (shot dead in Armidale in 2009); and Roni Levi (shot dead on Bondi Beach in 1997). In Victoria, the fatalities included the 2008 highly controversial shooting death of Tyler Cassidy. At age 15, Cassidy is believed to be the youngest person ever shot dead by police in Australia.[5] As of 2010, the homicide rate of Australia is 1.2 per 100,000.[6]

2013 - 2014

Between 2013 and 2014, in Australia, the number of victims for the majority of offence categories decreased:[7]

In contrast, there was an increase between 2013 and 2014 in the number of victims for the following offences:[7]


There were 238 reported murder victims in Australia during 2014, compared to 245 in 2013.[8]

In Australia during 2014:

Attempted murder

The number of attempted murder victims in Australia decreased from 164 in 2013 to a five-year low of 151 in 2014.[8]

In Australia during 2014:


There were 24 manslaughter victims in Australia in 2014, compared to 23 in 2013.[8]

In Australia during 2014:

Sexual assault

There was a 3.3% increase in the number of sexual assault victims in Australia, from 20,025 in 2013 to a five year high of 20,677 in 2014.[9]

In Australia during 2014:

Kidnapping and abduction

There was a 7.7% decrease in the number of kidnapping/abduction victims in Australia, from 596 in 2013 to a five-year low of 550 in 2014.[10]

In Australia during 2014:


There was a 16% decrease in the number of robbery victims (both person and non-person victims) in Australia, from 11,711 in 2013 to a five-year low of 9,886 in 2014.[11]

In Australia during 2014:

Of total robbery victims, 82% (8,130 victims) were persons, and of these:

Armed robbery

There was a 14% decrease in the number of armed robbery victims (both person and non-person victims) in Australia, from 5,631 in 2013 to a five-year low of 4,855 in 2014. Of total armed robbery victims, 72% (3,505 victims) were persons, and of these:[11]

Unarmed robbery

There was a 17% decrease in the number of unarmed robbery victims (both person and non-person victims) in Australia, from 6,076 in 2013 to a five-year low of 5,033 in 2014. Of total unarmed robbery victims, 92% (4,627 victims) were persons, and of these:[11]

Blackmail and extortion

There was a 3.5% increase in the number of blackmail/extortion victims (both person and non-person victims) in Australia, from 509 in 2013 to a five year high of 527 in 2014. During 2014, 40% of all blackmail/extortion investigations (211 victims) were finalised by police within 30 days.[12]

Of total blackmail/extortion victims in 2014, 93% (492 victims) were persons, and of these:

Unlawful entry with intent

There was a 6.5% decrease in the number of victims of unlawful entry with intent in Australia, from 194,529 in 2013 to a five-year low of 181,879 in 2014.[13]

In Australia during 2014:

Motor vehicle theft

There was a 4.4% decrease in the number of victims of motor vehicle theft in Australia, from 52,508 in 2013 to a five-year low of 50,186 in 2014.[14]

In Australia during 2014:

Other theft

There was a 1.7% decrease in the number of victims of other theft in Australia, from 493,540 in 2013 to 485,216 in 2014.  [15]

In Australia during 2014:

Crime by State and territory

New South Wales

Northern Territory


South Australia


Crime in Victoria from 2010 to 2014.[16]
Type of crime 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014
Homicide and related


99 96 89 82 106
Murder 47 53 45 46 58
Attempted murder 49 34 32 30 36
Manslaughter 3 9 17 8 8
Sexual assault 3,629 4,021 4,149 3,920 4,169
Kidnapping/abduction 116 108 120 138 122
Robbery 3,015 3,299 2,975 2,605 2,286
Armed robbery 1,438 1,639 1,529 1,365 1,142
Unarmed robbery 1,574 1,659 1,451 1,237 1,147
Blackmail/extortion 137 119 145 173 154
Unlawful entry with intent 44,410 43,747 47,461 44,915 44,457
Involving the taking of


31,232 30,987 33,360 31,362 30,446
Other 13,184 12,755 14,099 13,547 14,012
Motor vehicle theft 12,271 12,322 13,593 12,051 13,227
Other theft 111,633 110,384 115,008 110,568 111,274

Western Australia



Main article: Convicts in Australia

During the late 18th and 19th centuries, large numbers of convicts were transported to the various Australian penal colonies by the British government.[17] One of the primary reasons for the British settlement of Australia was the establishment of a penal colony to alleviate pressure on their overburdened correctional facilities. Over the 80 years more than 165,000 convicts were transported to Australia.[18] Discipline was poor among the early convicts, with high rates of theft, physical and sexual assault. Law enforcement was initially the preserve of the New South Wales Marine Corps, which accompanied the First Fleet. Australia's first civilian crime prevention force was established in August 1789, comprising a twelve-man night watch authorised to patrol the settlement at Sydney Cove and with powers "for the apprehending and securing for examination" anyone suspected of "felony, trespass or misdemeanour."[19]

Bushrangers of Australia

Main article: Bushranger

Bushrangers were criminals who used the Australian bush as a refuge to hide from authorities between committing their robberies, roughly analogous to the British "highwayman" and American "Old West outlaws". Their targets often included small-town banks or coach services. The term "bushranger" evolved to refer to those who abandoned social rights and privileges to take up "robbery under arms" as a way of life, using the bush as their base.

Riots in Australia

Law enforcement in Australia

Law enforcement in Australia is served by police, sheriffs and bailiffs under the control of state, territory and the Federal governments. A number of state, territory and federal agencies also administer a wide variety of legislation related to white-collar crime. The Police are responsible for the criminal law. The sheriff and bailiffs in each state and territory are responsible for the enforcement of the judgments of the courts exercising civil law (common law) jurisdictions. It is a common misconception that in Australia there are two distinct levels of police forces, the various state police forces and then overriding that, the Australian Federal Police (AFP). In actuality, the various state police forces are responsible for enforcing state law within their own states while the AFP are responsible for the enforcement of and investigation of crimes against Commonwealth law which applies across the whole country.

Australia's Gun Control Laws and the Debate with US Gun Control Laws

Recent mass murders committed in the United States, including those that have taken place in schools, churches and a movie theatre, have re-ignited the debate on gun control laws and Australia's gun control laws have been held up as an example of a workable solution for the safer management of guns and gun licensing by citizens of the United States, and some of the members of Congress - "Crime statistics before and after the implementation of gun laws provide a quantifiable measure of their impact. As a consequence, Australia's gun laws and their impact have become part of the American gun debate. "[20] The gun buy-back program which was implemented in 1996, purchased and destroyed mostly semi-automatic and pump action firearms.[21] Before people compare what the gun laws in Australia have done for "mass shootings", to the number of "mass shootings" (also known to the FBI as "mass killings") in the United States, you first have to realize that the number of people injured in the shooting, and the number of people killed, are vastly different between the two countries definitions of what a "mass shooting" really is. In the United States, 4 or more people have to be injured, or killed for the shooting to be considered a "mass shooting".[22] The FBI states that it only takes 3 people to be killed for the shooting to be considered a "mass killing".[23][24] In Australia, there has to be 5 fatalities not including the shooter for a shooting to be considered a "mass shooting".[25] If the numbers were the same for each country to be considered a "mass shooting" at 3 deaths total, Australia would indeed have mass shootings still. For Australia you instead have to look up "massacres in Australia" to see how many people have been killed in what would be considered a "mass shooting" in the United States. One instance in Australia of what would be considered a "mass shooting" in the USA is the Monash University Shooting in which 7 people were involved, 2 of which died. An incident in Australia that would be considered both a "mass shooting" and a "mass killing" by both definitions in the United States is the Hectorville Siege in which 6 total people were involved with 3 injured and 3 killed. There was also another report done by Time Magazine that states that the murder rate in Australia wasn't adversely affected like everyone tends to think it was after the 1996 gun control laws took place. The report shows that the declining murder rate didn't change in the percentage it was already going down at. Thus, the new laws didn't actually have any affect on the murder rate.[26] The main problem with comparing the two countries however falls within the realm of defining what a mass shooting actually is, and only using those numbers. In Australia, this isn't a problem as the definition has stuck around and has not been changed. In the United States however, the number of "active shooters" and "mass shootings" get interchanged especially since the FBI doesn't technically have a definition for "mass shootings" and lumps them into their definition of "mass killings" which also includes mass murders with other types of weapons, not just firearms,[24] and in some cases, the numbers of active shooters and mass killings get added together. An "active shooter" in the United States is defined as "An individual actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a confined and populated area." [27] So, in able to compare the United States to Australia, you must first define how many victims are needed for a shooting to be considered a "mass shooting" and use that number for both countries. You must also take into account that the population of Australia is only 24 million people versus the United States 324 million people. You can also compare (via population size) five areas that have the same amount of people in them when compared to Australia that have the same kind of gun control laws already. New York City, Los Angeles County, Detroit Michigan, Oakland California, and Cook County Illinois (Chicago) have a combined total population [28][29][30][31][32] slightly larger than all of Australia, and they all have the same style gun control as Australia. However, those five areas are known to be some of the most dangerous areas as far as crime goes in the United States.[33][34]

Civic organisations


Major crimes in Australia

Australian crime related books and media

See also


  1. 1 2 3
  3. John Donohue, C Wendell and Edith M Carlsmith Professor of Law, Stanford University.
  4. 1 2 3 4 5 6 La Canna, Xavier (24 February 2011). "Women increasingly target of police action". The Sydney Morning Herald.
  5. Quentin McDermott (5 March 2012). "Shooting deaths spark call for mental health overhaul". ABC News.
  6. Recorded Crime-Victims (PDF) (Report). Canberra: Australian Bureau of Statistics.
  7. 1 2 "Victims of crime, Australia". Australian Bureau of Statistics. Retrieved 2015. Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  8. 1 2 3 "Homicide and related ofences". Australian Bureau of Statistics. Retrieved 2015. Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  9. "Sexual assault". Australian Bureau of Statistics. Australian Bureau of Statistics. Retrieved 2015. Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  10. "Australian Bureau of Statistics - KIDNAPPING AND ABDUCTION". Australian Bureau of Statistics. Retrieved 2015. Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  11. 1 2 3 "Australian Bureau of Statistics - Robbery". Australian Bureau of Statistics. Retrieved 2015. Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  12. "Australian Bureau of Statistics - Blackmail and Extortion". Retrieved 2015. Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  13. "Australian Bureau of Statistics - Unlawful Entry".
  14. "Australian Bureau of Statistics - Motor vehicle teft recorded crime".
  15. "Australian Bureau of Statistics - Other theft".
  16. "Australian Bureau of Statistics". Retrieved 2015. Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  17. Shorter Oxford English Dictionary. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 2002. ISBN 0-19-860575-7. convictism noun (Hist.) the system of penal settlements for convicts; the body of convicts so transported M19
  18. Convict Records,
  19. Governor Arthur Phillip and Advocate-General David Collins, Regulations for the night-watch, 7 August 1789. Cited in Cobley, John (1963). Sydney Cove: 1789-1790. Angus & Robertson. p. 77. ISBN 0207141711.
  20. "Faking waves: how the NRA and pro-gun Americans abuse Australian crime stats". The Conversation. Retrieved 2015-10-24.
  21. Commonwealth of Australia 1997 (December 1997). "The Gun Buy-Back Scheme" (PDF). Australian National Audit Office. Retrieved 2015-10-23. External link in |website= (help)
  24. 1 2

External links

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