Crime in Australia

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

Law enforcement in Australia is one of the three major components of the country's justice system, along with courts and corrections. There are law enforcement officers employed by all three levels of government – federal, state / territory, and local.


Between 2008–09 and 2017–18 the national victimisation rate decreased for personal crime in all categories except sexual assault (which remained steady), and also all household crimes selected in the national statistics. Approximately 5.0% (966,600) of Australians aged 15 years and over experienced personal crime. [1]



During the late-eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, large numbers of convicts were transported to the various Australian penal colonies by the UK Government. [2] 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 a period of eighty years, more than 165,000 British convicts were transported to Australia. [3] 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 nightwatch 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." [4]

A convict is "a person found guilty of a crime and sentenced by a court" or "a person serving a sentence in prison". Convicts are often also known as "prisoners" or "inmates" or by the slang term "con", while a common label for former convicts, especially those recently released from prison, is "ex-con" ("ex-convict"). Persons convicted and sentenced to non-custodial sentences tend not to be described as "convicts".

Penal transportation

Penal transportation or transportation was the relocation of convicted criminals, or other persons regarded as undesirable, to a distant place, often a colony for a specified term; later, specifically established penal colonies became their destination. While the prisoners may have been released once the sentence was served, they generally did not have the resources to get themselves back home.

Aboriginal massacres

From the earliest days of settlement at Sydney Cove, settlers clashed with the indigenous peoples. Governor Arthur Phillip himself gave ex-convicts muskets which were utilised to shoot at Aborigines in the area, and also deployed soldiers to their allotted areas, who "dispersed" about 50 Aborigines. [5] Hidden or sanctioned massacres continued through to the 20th century, the last recorded being in 1928 at Coniston massacre in Western Australia.

Sydney Cove Bay in Sydney Harbour, Australia

Sydney Cove is a small bay on the southern shore of Sydney Harbour, one of several harbours in Port Jackson, on the coast of Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. It is one of Australia's leading tourist sites.

Aboriginal Australians term used to refer to some groups of Indigenous Australians

Aboriginal Australian is a collective term for all the indigenous peoples from the Australian mainland and Tasmania. This group contains many separate cultures that have developed in the various environments of Australia for more than 50,000 years. These peoples have a broadly shared, though complex, genetic history, but it is only in the last two hundred years that they have been defined and started to self identify as a single group. The exact definition of the term Aboriginal Australian has changed over time and place, with the importance of family lineage, self identification and community acceptance all being of varying importance. In the past Aboriginal Australians also lived over large sections of the continental shelf and were isolated on many of the smaller offshore islands, once the land was inundated at the start of the inter-glacial. However, they are distinct from the Torres Strait Islander people, despite extensive cultural exchange.

Arthur Phillip 18th and 19th-century British naval officer, Governor of New South Wales

Admiral Arthur Phillip was a Royal Navy officer and the first Governor of New South Wales who founded the British penal colony that later became the city of Sydney, Australia.

Bushrangers of Australia

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 banks in small towns or stagecoaches. 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.[ citation needed ]

Highwayman mounted robber who steals from travellers, an archaic term

A highwayman was a robber who stole from travellers. This type of thief usually traveled and robbed by horse as compared to a footpad who travelled and robbed on foot; mounted highwaymen were widely considered to be socially superior to footpads. Such criminals operated in Great Britain from the Elizabethan era until the early 19th century. In many other countries, they persisted for a few decades longer, until the mid or late 19th century.

Riots in Australia

Lambing Flat riots series of violent anti-Chinese demonstrations in Australia

The Lambing Flat Riots (1860-1861) were a series of violent anti-Chinese demonstrations that took place in the Burrangong region, in New South Wales, Australia. They occurred on the goldfields at Spring Creek, Stoney Creek, Back Creek, Wombat, Blackguard Gully, Tipperary Gully, and Lambing Flat.

2004 Redfern riots

The 2004 Redfern riots took place on the evening of Saturday 14 February 2004, in the inner Sydney suburb of Redfern, New South Wales, sparked by the death of a young man named Thomas Hickey.

The Macquarie Fields riots were a series of disturbances in southwest Sydney in February 2005 which were referred to as a riot by both the Parliament of New South Wales and the media.

Crime statistics

For 2016-7 statistics of recorded crime for the country, see ABS 4519.0: Recorded Crime: Offenders, 2016-17.

Historical overview

Data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) shows that during the 2009/10 year police took action against 375,259 people, [6] up by 4.8 percent from 2008/09 figures. [6] Young offenders aged 10 to 19 comprised about 29 percent of the total offender population across Australia. [6] 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. [6] 290,400 men had police action taken against them in 2009/10, an annual increase of 4 percent. [6] 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. [6] 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. [7] As of 2010, the homicide rate of Australia is 1.2 per 100,000. [8]

2013-2014 in detail

Between 2013 and 2014, in Australia, the number of victims for the majority of offence categories decreased: [9]

In contrast, there was an increase between 2013 and 2014 in the number of victims for the following offences: [9]

Murder There were 238 reported murder victims in Australia during 2014, compared to 245 in 2013. [10]

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. [10]

In Australia during 2014:

Manslaughter There were 24 manslaughter victims in Australia in 2014, compared to 23 in 2013. [10]

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. [11]

In Australia during 2014:


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. [12]

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. [13]

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: [13]

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: [13]

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. [14]

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. [15]

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. [16]

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.  [17]

In Australia during 2014:

Place of Birth The Australian Bureau of Statistics regularly publishes characteristics of those incarcerated including country of birth. The 2014 figures show that in general Australians have a higher percentage when compared to their proportion of the population but amongst foreigners, some nations have higher rates than both the average and Australians particularly in relation to homicide. [18] a

Prisoner characteristics, 2014
Country of birthHomicide and
related offences %
All crime %National
population %
New Zealand3.33.02.2
United Kingdom3.21.85.1

Statistics 2014-2017

The number of offenders proceeded against by police during 2016–2017 increased by 1% from the previous year to approximately 414,000. [19]

In 2016–2017, the offender rate, which is the number of offenders in the population of Australia, increased slightly from 1.98% to 2%. The youth offender rate decreased for the seventh consecutive year in 2016–17, between 2009–10 and 2016–17, the rate fell from 3,339 to 2,330 offenders per 100,000 persons aged 10 to 17. [20]

The most common type of offence in 2016-17 was illicit drug offences (20%), with sexual assault and related offences increasing by 3%, being the sixth successive annual increase and a total increase of 40%. [19]

From the National Australian Homicide Monitoring program report 2012: "The homicide rate has continued to decrease each year, since 1989-90. The periods 2010–2011 and 2011–2012 are the lowest homicide rate since data collection began in 1989". [21]

In 2013-2014, the national homicide rate decreased from 1.8 per 100,000 people in 1989-90 to 1 per 100,000. [22] More specifically, there were 238 homicide incidents in Australia in 2013-14 compared with 307 deaths in 1989-90. [23]

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.

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. " [24] The gun buy-back program which was implemented in 1996, purchased and destroyed mostly semi-automatic and pump action firearms. [25]

Civic organisations

See also


Related Research Articles

Robbery taking or attempting to take something of value by force or threat of force or by putting the victim in fear

Robbery is the crime of taking or attempting to take anything of value by force, threat of force, or by putting the victim in fear. According to common law, robbery is defined as taking the property of another, with the intent to permanently deprive the person of that property, by means of force or fear; that is, it is a larceny or theft accomplished by an assault. Precise definitions of the offence may vary between jurisdictions. Robbery is differentiated from other forms of theft by its inherently violent nature ; whereas many lesser forms of theft are punished as misdemeanors, robbery is always a felony in jurisdictions that distinguish between the two. Under English law, most forms of theft are triable either way, whereas robbery is triable only on indictment. The word "rob" came via French from Late Latin words of Germanic origin, from Common Germanic raub -- "theft".

Extortion criminal offense

Extortion is a criminal offense of obtaining money, property, or services from an individual or institution, through coercion. It is sometimes euphemistically referred to as a "protection racket" since the racketeers often phrase their demands as payment for "protection" from threats from unspecified other parties; though often, and almost always, such "protection" is simply abstinence of harm from the same party, and such is implied in the "protection" offer. Extortion is commonly practiced by organized crime groups. The actual obtainment of money or property is not required to commit the offense. Making a threat of violence which refers to a requirement of a payment of money or property to halt future violence is sufficient to commit the offense. Exaction refers not only to extortion or the demanding and obtaining of something through force, but additionally, in its formal definition, means the infliction of something such as pain and suffering or making somebody endure something unpleasant.

There are several methods for the measuring of crime. Public surveys are occasionally conducted to estimate the amount of crime that has not been reported to police. Such surveys are usually more reliable for assessing trends. However, they also have their limitations and generally don't procure statistics useful for local crime prevention, often ignore offenses against children and do not count offenders brought before the criminal justice system.

A violent crime or crime of violence is a crime in which an offender or perpetrator uses or threatens to use force upon a victim. This entails both crimes in which the violent act is the objective, such as murder or rape, as well as crimes in which violence is the means to an end. Violent crimes may, or may not, be committed with weapons. Depending on the jurisdiction, violent crimes may vary from homicide to harassment. Typically, violent criminals includes aircraft hijackers, bank robbers, muggers, burglars, terrorists, carjackers, rapists, kidnappers, torturers, active shooters, murderers, gangsters, drug cartels, and others.

Under the Canadian constitution, the power to establish criminal law and rules of investigation is vested in the federal Parliament. The provinces share responsibility for law enforcement, and while the power to prosecute criminal offences is assigned to the federal government, responsibility for prosecutions is delegated to the provinces for most types of criminal offences. Laws and sentencing guidelines are uniform throughout the country, but provinces vary in their level of enforcement.

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The relationship between race and crime in the United States has been a topic of public controversy and scholarly debate for more than a century. The crime rate varies between racial groups. Most homicides in the United States are intraracial—the perpetrator and victim are of the same race. Research shows that the overrepresentation of some minorities in the criminal justice system can be explained by socioeconomic factors as well as racial discrimination by law enforcement and the judicial system.

Crime in Western Australia

Crime in Western Australia is tackled by the Western Australia Police and the Western Australian legal system.

National Incident-Based Reporting System

National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS) is an incident-based reporting system used by law enforcement agencies in the United States for collecting and reporting data on crimes. Local, state and federal agencies generate NIBRS data from their records management systems. Data is collected on every incident and arrest in the Group A offense category. These Group A offenses are 49 offenses grouped in 23 crime categories. Specific facts about these offenses are gathered and reported in the NIBRS system. In addition to the Group A offenses, 10 Group B offenses are reported with only the arrest information.

Crime in Sweden

Crime in Sweden describes an act defined in the Swedish Penal Code or in another Swedish law or statutory instrument for which a sanction is prescribed.

A sex offender is a person who has committed a sex crime. What constitutes a sex crime differs by culture and legal jurisdiction. The majority of convicted sex offenders have convictions for crimes of a sexual nature; however, some sex offenders have simply violated a law contained in a sexual category. Some of the crimes which usually result in a mandatory sex-offender classification are: a second prostitution conviction, sending or receiving obscene content in the form of SMS text messages (sexting), and relationship between young adults and teenagers resulting in corruption of a minor. If any sexual contact was made by the adult to the minor, then child molestation has occurred. Other serious offenses are sexual assault, statutory rape, bestiality, child sexual abuse, female genital mutilation, incest, rape, and sexual imposition.

Mark Goudeau American serial killer and rapist

Mark Goudeau is an American serial killer and rapist. Goudeau was involved in one of the two simultaneously occurring serial killer cases which terrorized the Phoenix metro area, between August 2005 and June 2006.

Crime in the United Kingdom describes acts of violent crime and non-violent crime that take place within the United Kingdom. Courts and police systems are separated into three sections, based on the different judicial systems of England and Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland.

Law, government, and crime in Winnipeg

The municipal government of Winnipeg is represented by 15 city councillors and a mayor elected every four years. On July 27, 1971, the City of Winnipeg absorbed the R. M. of Charleswood, the R. M. of Fort Garry, the R. M. of North Kildonan, the R. M. of Old Kildonan, the Town of Tuxedo, the City of East Kildonan, the City of West Kildonan, the City of St. Vital, the City of Transcona, the City of St. Boniface, the City of St. James-Assiniboia, the old City of Winnipeg and Metropolitan Corporation of Greater Winnipeg were amalgamated to create a unicity.

Crime in the United States has been recorded since colonization. Crime rates have varied over time, with a sharp rise after 1963, reaching a broad peak between the 1970s and early 1990s. Since then, crime has declined significantly in the United States, and current crime rates are approximately the same as those of the 1960s.

Crime in New Zealand encompasses criminal law, crime statistics, the nature and characteristics of crime, sentencing, punishment, and public perceptions of crime. New Zealand criminal law has its origins in English criminal law, which was codified into statute by the New Zealand parliament in 1893. Although New Zealand remains a common law jurisdiction, all criminal offences and their penalties are codified in New Zealand statutes.

Rape in the United States is defined by the Department of Justice as "Penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim." While definitions and terminology of rape vary by jurisdiction in the United States, the FBI revised its definition to eliminate a requirement that the crime involve an element of force.

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South Australia Police is responsible for providing policing services to South Australia and crime statistics for the state are provided on their website.. Crime statistics from the from the 2017–18 national ABS Crime Victimisation Survey show that between the years 2008–09 and 2017–18, victimisation rate declined for assault and most household crime types.


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  19. 1 2 "Main Features - Key Findings". Australian Bureau of Statistics.
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