The compendium draws on administrative and survey-based data collections and for the first time features national offender data derived from the first Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) survey highlighted elsewhere on this blog. It also contains data, from the Australian Payments Clearing Association, on financial instruments fraud.
The summary notes that
• Property crime, including theft of motor vehicles, remained the most commonly reported class of crime, with just over 800,000 incidents in 2008; although recorded crime data show that property crime offences continue to decline each year.The AIC comments that -
• Victimisation survey data suggest that victims are much less likely to report experiencing a violent crime than they are a property crime. Assault was the most common violent crime, with 170,277 victims recorded in 2008 (down slightly on the figures for 2007).
• Most offenders were male. The offending rate for people in the 15 to 19 years age cohort was almost four times the rate of all other offenders in 2007–08.
Although the availability of national statistics on major crimes continues to improve, nationally-consistent data on offenders and emerging crimes, including cybercrime, remain unavailable. Furthermore, recording issues affecting particular crimes, such as assault and sexual assault, limit the ability to confidently identify real trends in these crimes over time.It goes on to report that -
• Fines were the most common penalty issued by the courts. However, it should be noted that there was a 1.4 percent rise in prison numbers, with 27,615 persons in prison on 30 June 2008. The rate per 100,000 of adult males and females serving community correction orders decreased by 18 percent for adult males and 19 percent for adult females.The NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research in a new 12 page report [PDF] on Prison populations and correctional outlays: the effect of reducing re-imprisonment meanwhile argues that modest reductions in the rate at which offenders are re-imprisoned would result in substantial savings in prisoner numbers and correctional outlays.
• Australia’s recurrent expenditure on the criminal justice system in 2007–08 was approximately $10 billion. A large part of government expenditure on criminal justice is for law enforcement; in 2007–08 there were 48,024 sworn state and territory police officers employed across the nation.
58% of all persons given a prison sentence are subsequently re-imprisoned, with the average time to the next prison sentence being 13 months. In the case of Indigenous prisoners, the rate of return to prison (74%) is even higher. The average time to the next prison sentence for Indigenous offenders given a prison sentence is 11 months.
The Bureau estimates that a 10% reduction in the overall re-imprisonment rate (ie to 52%) would reduce the NSW prison population by more than 800 inmates, saving $28 million per year. A 10% reduction in the Indigenous re-imprisonment rate (ie to 66%) would reduce the Indigenous sentenced prisoner population in NSW by 336 inmates, resulting in annual savings of more than $10 million.
The report notes that state and territory governments around Australia have tried to contain prison population growth in the past through the creation of alternatives to custody. Most of these alternatives, however, had been used on offenders would not have gone to prison anyway.