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Latest release

Recorded Crime - Offenders methodology

Reference period
2018 - 2019
Released
6/02/2020
Next release Unknown
First release

Explanatory notes

Introduction

This publication presents statistics about alleged offenders who were proceeded against by police during the 12 month reference period, for all states and territories. This includes information about the most serious offence, referred to as the principal offence, associated with an alleged offender (hereafter referred to as an "offender"). Statistics are also presented on the number of proceedings that police initiated in the form of court and non-court actions for all states and territories except Western Australia.

Data source

Statistics in this publication are derived from information about offenders collected by the ABS from administrative records held by the state and territory police agencies.

Scope and coverage

The scope of the collection includes all offenders, aged 10 years and over, who have been proceeded against by police during the reference period. Persons under the age of 10 are excluded from the collection as the minimum age of criminal responsibility in all Australian states and territories is 10 years.

All criminal offences where police agencies have the authority to take legal action against an individual are included, with some exclusions. Depending on the type and seriousness of the offence committed, police will either initiate a court or non-court action.

  • Court actions largely involve laying charges against an offender that must be answered in court. Offenders may be taken into custody, granted bail or issued with a summons for these charges pending an appearance in court. The proceeding may also be withdrawn or changed from a court to a non-court action.
  • Non-court actions comprise legal actions such as informal or formal cautions/warnings, conferencing, counselling, drug diversionary schemes, or the issuing of penalty notices, which do not require an appearance in court.
     

Exclusions

The scope excludes the following:

  • persons less than 10 years of age
  • organisations
  • offences that come under the authority of agencies other than state and territory police, such as Environmental Protection Authorities, etc.
  • proceedings initiated by the Australian Federal Police
     

Due to quality and/or comparability issues, or an inability to supply data to the ABS, the statistics presented in this publication exclude the following:

  • traffic offence information specifically related to ANZSOC division 14 traffic and vehicle regulatory offences and subdivision 041 dangerous or negligent operation of a vehicle
  • ANZSOC group 1523 breach of bail
  • Indigenous status data for offenders in Victoria, Western Australia and Tasmania
  • number of times proceeded against data and police proceedings data for Western Australia
  • method of proceeding data for South Australia and the Northern Territory
     

Reference period

The statistics in this collection relate to offenders proceeded against by police during the reference period 1 July 2018 to 30 June 2019. Additionally, selected statistics are available for 2008–09 to 2017–18.

Counting methodology

The main counting unit for this collection is the "offender", presented in data cubes 1 to 4. Data cube 5 uses "police proceedings" as the counting unit. The experimental family and domestic violence statistics in data cube 6 use both offenders and police proceedings as counting units.

Date of action

Data are compiled on the basis of the date that police initiated action, or proceeded against, an offender (e.g. the date the offender was charged, the date the offender was cautioned, etc.). The date the offender was proceeded against by police may not be the date when the offence occurred, or the date when the offender came to the attention of police. In some jurisdictions the data may reflect the date of record creation rather than date of action; however, this does not have a significant impact on the comparability of data across jurisdictions for offenders as there are no major lags between the two dates.

Offender counts

For the offender population, an offender is only counted once irrespective of how many offences they may have committed within the same incident or how many times they were dealt with by police during the reference period.

Police proceeding counts

For the police proceeding population, an offender may be counted more than once if proceeded against on separate occasions by police during the reference period. Data are presented for both court and non-court proceedings.

Principal offence

Offence information presented in this publication relates to the principal offence allegedly committed by an individual offender during the reference period. These statistics are not designed to provide a count of the total number of individual offences that come to the attention of police.

For the offender counts, where a single offence is processed by police during the reference period, the offender is assigned that offence as their principal offence. Where multiple offences are committed by an offender, they are assigned a principal offence using the ABS National Offence Index (NOI).

For the police proceeding counts, offenders who are proceeded against more than once in the reference period are assigned a principal offence for each separate date of police action. The following diagram provides an illustration of the assigning of a principal offence and the resulting counts for both populations.

Offender and proceeding populations

Diagram: Displays examples of how a principal offence is assigned to the offender and proceeding populations.

Offender and proceeding populations

Offender counts, proceeding counts and offences beneath robbery and extortion (ANZSOC Division 06) relate to Offender 1. Offender counts, proceeding counts and offences beneath acts intended to cause injury (ANZSOC Division 02) relate to Offender 2.
Offender counts and proceeding counts are outputs. Offences are inputs.

Offender count of robbery and extortion (ANZSOC Division 06) is split into 2 proceeding counts; robbery and extortion (ANZSOC Division 06), and theft (ANZSOC Division 08). Robbery and extortion splits into two offences; Aggravated robbery (ANZSOC group 0611) 12/07/2018, and use illicit drug (ANZSOC group 1042) 12/07/2018. Theft (ANZSOC Division 08) flows to offence theft (except motor vehicles), nec (ANZSOC group 0829) 07/09/2018.

Offender count of acts intended to cause injury (ANZSOC Division 02) flows to proceeding count acts intended to cause injury (ANZSOC Division 02). This then splits into two offences; serious assault resulting in injury (ANZSOC group 0211) 10/04/2019, and offensive behaviour (ANZSOC group 1332) 10/04/2019.

Principal method of proceeding

For offender counts, the principal method of proceeding will be the method of proceeding associated with the principal offence assigned to that offender. For police proceeding counts, as offenders who are proceeded against more than once in the reference period are assigned a principal offence for each separate date of police action, they are also assigned the appropriate method linked to each principal offence.

Offender rates

Offender rates are expressed as the number of offenders per 100,000 of the ABS Estimated Resident Population (ERP). This method derives what are sometimes referred to as "crude rates". These rates generally accord with international and state and territory practice, and enable the comparison of the extent and type of offending across the individual states and territories, as well as a comparison over time.

Rates for the offender population are calculated using the ERP at the midpoint of the reference period (e.g. 31 December 2018 for the 2018–19 reference period). The ERP used in the calculation of these rates is for persons aged 10 years and over for all states and territories. Where rates are presented for a sex or age group, the ERP used in the calculation of the rates refers to the relevant sex or age group.

ERP estimates and projections applied for the Australian Capital Territory exclude Jervis Bay Territory. All estimates and projections for Australia exclude the external territories of Christmas Island and Cocos (Keeling) Islands.

For more information on the ERP, see Australian Demographic Statistics (cat. no. 3101.0).

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander offender rates

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander offender rates are expressed per 100,000 of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population aged 10 years and over. This method derives what are sometimes referred to as "crude rates". The offender rates presented in this issue are derived from the estimated population for the years 2009 to 2016, as well as the Series B projections of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population, from the ABS publication Estimates and Projections, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, 2006 to 2031 (cat. no. 3238.0).

These population estimates and projections are as at 30 June. An estimate for December 31 is then created by taking the average of the population estimates or projections at 30 June of that year and the following year. These figures are used to derive offender rates for each year.

Rates for the non-indigenous population are calculated using the total ERP of persons aged 10 years and over for each state or territory minus the projected Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population aged 10 years and over.

Age standardisation of offender rates

Age standardisation is a statistical method that adjusts crude rates to account for age differences between study populations.

There are differences in the age distributions between Australia's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-indigenous populations, with the former having a much younger population. In 2001, the proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 18 years and over was 55%, compared with 76% of non-indigenous people (and 75% of the total Australian population). The diagram below illustrates the differences in age distributions.

Download


Due to the differing age profiles, using crude rates to examine differences between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-indigenous populations may lead to erroneous conclusions being drawn about variables that are correlated with age.

By making comparisons across age groups, we know that offender rates are negatively correlated with age. If we compare overall offender rates between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-indigenous persons, it is likely that the offender rate in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population will be higher because of the larger proportion of young people in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population. Therefore, age standardised Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-indigenous offender rates have been presented in Table 23 of this publication.

The standard population used for age standardisation is the total Australian Estimated Resident Population at 30 June 2001. The standard population is revised every twenty five years; the next revision will be based on final data from the 2026 Census of Population and Housing.

Indigenous status

This publication only presents indigenous status data for New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory. Based on ABS assessment, indigenous status data for other jurisdictions were not of sufficient quality and/or did not meet ABS standards for self-identification for national reporting in 2018–19.

Data about indigenous status for the Australian Capital Territory are included in this publication for the 2013–14 reference period onwards. In some instances, indigenous status is obtained by ACT Police without giving the offender the opportunity to self-identify. However, consultation with ACT Police showed that the proportion of records not obtained via self-identification was low, and the impact on the data was minimal.

As indigenous status is based on self-identification by the offender, identification is difficult where police proceed by way of a penalty notice as this method does not usually provide an opportunity for police to ask individuals to self-identify. This results in a large proportion of unknown values for indigenous status for offenders proceeded against via penalty notice. As such, indigenous status data in this publication exclude penalty notices. Therefore, offender counts and rates presented in this publication do not include all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander offenders proceeded against by police.

The proportion of all offenders proceeded against by police by way of a penalty notice during 2018–19 was:

  • New South Wales – 29%
  • Queensland – 9%
  • South Australia – 42%
  • Northern Territory – 44%
  • Australian Capital Territory – 5%
     

The use of penalty notices by police is most prevalent for theft, public order offences, offences against justice and miscellaneous offences. The removal of those offenders who were proceeded against via a penalty notice results in reduced offender counts and rates for these four offence divisions in particular.

The proportion of offenders with a 'not stated' indigenous status varies by offence type.

Proportion of offenders with unknown indigenous status(a), selected states and territories, 2018-19
Principal offenceNSWQldSANTACT
01 Homicide and related offences8.72.56.00.00.0
02 Acts intended to cause injury4.00.83.00.10.0
03 Sexual assault and related offences3.62.41.90.00.0
04 Dangerous/negligent acts20.81.13.20.00.0
05 Abduction/harassment7.10.03.90.00.0
06 Robbery/extortion0.31.14.50.00.0
07 Unlawful entry with intent3.40.82.00.00.0
08 Theft(b)8.31.110.70.90.0
09 Fraud/deception8.90.77.93.20.0
10 Illicit drug offences12.11.38.41.10.0
11 Prohibited/regulated weapons10.70.67.40.00.0
12 Property damage and environmental pollution9.81.26.70.00.0
13 Public order offences14.33.620.80.00.0
15 Offences against justice13.30.66.30.00.0
16 Miscellaneous offences14.25.814.90.00.0
Total(c)8.11.37.40.40.0
  1. Excludes offenders with a principal method of proceeding of penalty notices.
  2. Fare evasion excluded from theft for NSW, Qld & SA but included in total.
  3. Includes offenders with an unknown principal offence
     

Due to variation in the quality of South Australian data over recent reference periods, caution is recommended when interpreting data by indigenous status.

Classifications

The national classifications used to collect and produce data about offenders are:

  • Australian and New Zealand Standard Offence Classification (ANZSOC)
  • National Offence Index (NOI)
  • Method of Proceeding
     

Australian and New Zealand Standard Offence Classification (ANZSOC)

ANZSOC provides a uniform national framework for classifying offences across Australia and New Zealand for statistical purposes. The classification is a hierarchical structure allowing for varying degrees of detail to be published depending on the level of detail in the source information. Associated with the classification are coding rules which ensure that the counting of information is consistent across states and territories. For further information about ANZSOC refer to Australian and New Zealand Standard Offence Classification, 2011 (cat. no. 1234.0).

For ease of reading, some ANZSOC categories have been abbreviated throughout this publication as follows:

  • Dangerous or negligent acts endangering persons appears as 'Dangerous/negligent acts'
  • Abduction, harassment and other offences against the person appears as 'Abduction/harassment'
  • Robbery, extortion and related offences appears as ‘Robbery/extortion’
  • Unlawful entry with intent/burglary, break and enter appears as 'Unlawful entry with intent'
  • Theft and related offences appears as ‘Theft’
  • Fraud, deception and related offences appears as ‘Fraud/deception’
  • Prohibited and regulated weapons and explosives offences appears as ‘Weapons/explosives'
  • Offences against justice procedures, government security and government operations appears as 'Offences against justice'
     

National Offence Index (NOI)

The NOI (published in National Offence Index (cat. no. 1234.0.55.001)) is a tool which provides an ordinal ranking of offence categories in ANZSOC according to perceived seriousness in order to determine a principal offence. The purpose of the NOI is to enable the representation of an offender by a single offence in instances where multiple offences occur within the same incident or where offenders are proceeded against by police on more than one occasion in the reference period.

A revised NOI was released in 2018 to assign rankings to supplementary offence codes that were previously unranked in the 2009 version. The principal offence information presented for the 2017–18 reference period onwards is based on the 2018 version of the NOI with a minor modification for fare evasion offences.

The principal offence information presented in this issue for the reference periods 2008–09 to 2016–17 is based on the 2009 version of the NOI with a minor modification to add a ranking for ANZSOC group ‘0800 theft and related offences, not further defined’ to improve principal offence data for the Northern Territory. Due to this modification there is minimal impact on the data from the change to the 2018.

Fare evasion

Enforcement of laws/regulations on public transport is the responsibility of state/territory police and/or third party organisations. Data on offenders proceeded against by authorities other than police are out of scope of the Recorded Crime – Offenders collection. Due to the variance in police responsibility for public transport related offences across states and territories, an additional offence of fare evasion has been introduced to the principal offence categories to assist with the comparability of theft data across jurisdictions. The separation of this offence from the theft data impacts all data tables in which principal offence is presented. The data has been excluded from the theft and related offences division data but is included in the offender totals. The detailed fare evasion offence category is only presented in one table: Table 6 Offenders, Principal offence (divisions and selected subdivisions), States and territories, 2017–18 to 2018–19.

This action could only be applied for the 2014–15 reference period onwards. Users are advised not to compare data on offenders with a principal offence of theft to earlier reference periods as fare evasion cannot be separated from ANZSOC group 0829 theft (except motor vehicles), n.e.c. for the reference periods 2008–09 to 2013–14.

Please refer to notes for New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland and South Australia for other information on fare evasion data in those jurisdictions.

Method of proceeding classification

The method of proceeding describes the type of legal action (court or non-court) initiated by police against a person as a result of an investigation of an offence(s). The type of legal action may change as further investigation is undertaken by police. Not all changes made during the reference period may be reflected in this collection. The method of proceeding classification is a hierarchical classification. For details of the classification hierarchy refer to the Appendix.

Data comparability

National offender statistics are compiled in order to maximise comparability across states and territories. This collection has been designed to facilitate comparisons of states and territories through the application of common national statistical standards and counting rules. However, some legislative and processing differences remain. The following information highlights those processes unique to a jurisdiction that may have had an impact on the data for this collection. This may include differences in recording practices, legislation or policy to combat particular types of crime.

New South Wales

New South Wales legislation does not contain discrete offences of stalking, intimidation and harassment. As these offences cannot be disaggregated, offenders proceeded against for stalking, intimidation and harassment have been coded to ANZSOC group 0291 stalking. Therefore, this group may be overstated and ANZSOC division 05 abduction/harassment may be understated. Caution should be used when making comparisons with other states and territories.

From 1 May 2012 the NSW Police Force took over the role of policing the state's public transport network, through a dedicated Police Transport Command of 610 officers. This led to increases from 2012–13 in the number of offenders and proceedings in some ANZSOC categories, including theft (due to fare evasion), fraud and Public order offences. These offences are most often proceeded against by way of a penalty notice.

Verbal warnings and compliance notices were included for the first time in 2009–10 and resulted in an increase in non-court proceedings in NSW. They relate mainly to licensing enforcement (i.e. liquor, security industry, firearms). A verbal warning is a less formal process which informs the person that some breach of regulations need to be corrected. A compliance notice is a written warning with a stipulated time period within which the breach must be corrected.

Victoria

In Victoria infringement notices and on-the-spot fines for public transport fare evasion offences are predominantly issued by third party organisations. Offences issued by these organisations are out of scope of the Recorded Crime – Offenders collection. Infringement notices and on-the-spot fines may also be issued by Victoria Police (including Protective Service Officers); these are in scope of the Recorded Crime – Offenders collection.

Queensland

Queensland has a relatively high number of offenders with an unknown principal offence. This is due to the Queensland Police offender system containing reported offence details which are quite broad in their description. Where this occurs it may not be possible to determine the most serious offence, resulting in the principal offence being recorded as unknown.

A review was undertaken for the 2016–17 publication to determine if the number of offenders with an unknown principal offence could be reduced. This review found that a proportion of records with an unknown offence code should be coded to ANZSOC division 14 traffic and vehicle regulatory offences and so were out of the scope of the Recorded Crime – Offenders collection. These records have been excluded from the 2014–15 data onwards. Users are advised to exercise caution when making comparisons to data before 2014–15 as the total number of offenders for earlier years are overstated.

For public order offences, in comparison with other states and territories, Queensland Police make greater use of arrest, summons, cautions, and notices to appear as an action against an offender, and only limited use of penalty notices. This results in Queensland having the highest proportion of court actions of any state or territory.

Queensland data includes offenders proceeded against for fare evasion by the Queensland Police Service Rail Squad. Data on offenders proceeded against for fare evasion by TransLink Senior Network Officers or Queensland Rail Authorised officers are out of scope of the Recorded Crime – Offenders collection.

The issuing of infringement notices or 'e-ticketing' by Queensland Police for public nuisance offences commenced from 8 November 2010. These offences include: public nuisance, public urination, obstruct police officer (in relation to the aforementioned public nuisance or public urination) and contravene requirement of a police officer (in relation to stating correct name and address regarding the above). The introduction of this method of proceeding resulted in an increase in non-court proceedings in Queensland.

South Australia

New data management system

South Australia Police began recording offender data in a new data management system from November 2018. The 2018–19 offender data for South Australia includes data from the previous system for July to November 2018 and from the new system from November 2018 to June 2019. Users are advised to use caution when analysing this data, especially when comparing to earlier reference periods, as the impact of this change on the data is unknown.

Data by method of proceeding is currently not available for South Australia for 2018–19 due to the introduction of the new crime recording system.

Formal cautions/warnings

South Australia Police provided data for formal cautions/warnings and conferences for the first time in 2013–14. From 2013–14 to 2015–16 these methods of proceeding were only used for juvenile offenders. During the 2016–17 reference period South Australia police began issuing formal cautions and warnings to adult offenders for selected offences. The inclusion of this data for juvenile offenders in 2013–14 onwards and adult offenders in 2016–17 resulted in increases in the proportion of non-court actions for these reference periods.

Indigenous status

Due to variation in the quality of South Australian data over recent reference periods, caution is recommended when interpreting data by indigenous status.

In 2016–17, there were two key changes in the quality of the indigenous status data item:

  • Increased use of formal cautions and warnings as a method of proceeding in South Australia increased the number of offenders with an 'unknown' indigenous status from the 2016–17 reference period onwards.
  • South Australia police supplied indigenous status data for offenders proceeded against via drug diversions for the first time in the 2016–17 reference period, which reduced the number of records with an ‘unknown’ indigenous status by approximately 97%. This increased the total number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander offenders and non-indigenous offenders for South Australia when compared with data from previous years. In addition, the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander offenders and non-indigenous offenders with a principal offence of illicit drugs offences have increased due to the inclusion of indigenous status data for drug diversions when compared with data from earlier reference periods.
     

The introduction of the new crime recording system in November 2018 resulted in a reduction in the proportion of offenders with an unknown indigenous status for 2018–19 as it includes a mandatory field to record this information.

Proportion of offenders with unknown indigenous status(a), South Australia
Principal offence2015-162016-172017-182018-19
01 Homicide and related offences0.00.05.86.0
02 Acts intended to cause injury1.85.06.03.0
03 Sexual assault and related offences2.64.23.41.9
04 Dangerous/negligent acts7.810.319.53.2
05 Abduction/harassment2.58.67.13.9
06 Robbery/extortion1.62.21.44.5
07 Unlawful entry with intent2.93.45.02.0
08 Theft(b)2.515.224.110.7
09 Fraud/deception4.112.117.97.9
10 Illicit drug offences70.02.213.08.4
11 Prohibited/regulated weapons3.112.921.47.4
12 Property damage and environmental pollution2.78.513.66.7
13 Public order offences2.227.145.520.8
15 Offences against justice2.38.214.16.3
16 Miscellaneous offences3.113.924.214.9
Total(c)21.28.215.57.4
  1. Excludes offenders with a principal method of proceeding of penalty notices.
  2. Fare evasion excluded from theft included in total.
  3. Includes offenders with an unknown principal offence
     

Unlinked databases

Caution should be exercised when interpreting counts of offenders and proceedings with a principal offence of illicit drug offences for South Australia as the data may be overstated. Data relating to offenders issued with cannabis expiation notices and drug diversions are stored on separate infringement databases and this information cannot be linked to other databases that store information about offenders. As the databases cannot be linked, if an offender was proceeded against for multiple offences during the same reference period then they may be counted more than once, resulting in an over count of the total number of offenders, rates and police proceedings for South Australia.

General expiation notices may be issued for public order offences and offences against justice and are stored on an infringement database that cannot be linked with other police databases that contain information about offenders. As a result, offenders with a principal offence of public order offences or offences against justice may be overstated as an offender may be counted more than once if they were proceeded against for multiple offences during the same reference period.

Fare evasion

Infringement notices for public transport fare evasion offences in South Australia can be issued by the Public Transport Safety Branch (part of South Australia Police) or Adelaide Metro Prescribed Officers. This publication contains data on police proceedings only, as such, infringements issued by the metro officers are out of scope of this collection.

Western Australia

Western Australia Police utilise two separate crime recording systems for the Recorded Crime – Offenders collection. Data from both systems undergo a matching process to enable the production of offender statistics and associated demographic and offence information presented within this publication. Users should be aware that data may be slightly overstated as a result of the identifier matching process.

Data about police proceedings are unable to be successfully matched between the two separate crime recording systems used by Western Australia Police. Therefore data relating to police proceedings for Western Australia are not included in this publication. This affects Tables 16 and 17 and precludes the production of national data about police proceedings or the number of times an offender was proceeded against by police.

Western Australia Police applied a number of revisions to their offence coding in the 2017–18 and 2018–19 data for national statistical purposes. This impacts on a range of offences and results in the data by offence being not comparable to previous reference periods.

Tasmania

For the 2016–17 cycle, a review of Tasmanian ANZSOC mappings identified that a number of offences related to boating were being incorrectly mapped to division 16 miscellaneous offences, rather than being identified as division 14 traffic and vehicle regulatory offences (and therefore out of the scope of the Recorded Crime – Offenders collection). Corrected data was provided for the 2015–16 and 2016–17 reference years. Users are advised to exercise caution when making comparisons to data before 2015–16 as the data for earlier years are overstated.

Minor coding changes were made by Tasmania Police in 2012–13, with the most notable impact being the movement of some offenders previously coded to ANZSOC group 1312 criminal intent to group 1121 unlawfully obtain or possess regulated weapons/explosives and group 1122 misuse of regulated weapons/explosives.

Further coding changes were made by Tasmania Police in 2011–12, with the most notable impact being the movement of some offenders previously coded to ANZSOC group 1322 liquor and tobacco offences to group 1541 resist or hinder government official (excluding police officer, justice official or government security officer) and group 1562 resist or hinder police officer or justice official.

From 4 April 2011, Tasmania Police were only able to proceed against youth offenders for minor drug offences under the Youth Justice Act 1997, rather than give Illicit Drug Diversion Initiative cautions and diversions. This resulted in an increased number of court actions for youth offenders for illicit drug offences between 2009–10 and 2010–11.

For the 2010–11 Recorded Crime – Offenders collection, Tasmania Police undertook a review of their ANZSOC mappings and implemented coding changes that impacted on some principal offence divisions for the 2009–10 and 2010–11 reference periods, most notably division 04 dangerous/ negligent acts, division 07 unlawful entry with intent, division 08 theft and division 13 public order offences. For details about these coding changes, refer to notes in the 2010–11 issue of this publication.

Northern Territory

An internal review of recording practices and systems undertaken by the Northern Territory Police in 2015 highlighted concerns with the method of proceeding data and, as such, data on police proceedings for the Northern Territory were not included in the 2014–15 and 2015–16 publications. Due to system constraints, an accurate method of proceeding (court or non-court action) could not always be determined. Subsequent investigation determined that the issue was limited to the method of proceeding data and that total police proceedings data is of sufficient quality for publication. Total police proceedings data for NT are included in the police proceedings data cube but not by method of proceeding.

Northern Territory Police are unable to provide cautions or warnings data, as these methods are largely used informally and are not recorded in the primary proceedings system. It is estimated that there are very few instances where such methods are used and therefore the impact on the data presented in this publication are minimal.

There are a small proportion of offenders that come into contact with police who are unable to provide their exact date of birth. In these situations, where only a birth year is provided, police may allocate a nominal birth date or alternatively, police may record the offender's date of birth as unknown.

Australian Capital Territory

Criminal infringement notices (CINs) were introduced on 24 December 2009 for a range of minor public order offences, including defacing premises, urinating in public, failing to comply with noise abatement direction and consuming liquor in a prescribed public place. CINs are aimed at having an immediate deterrent effect on an offender while providing an alternative to court action. These offences are not recorded on the primary Australian Capital Territory police recording system.

Caution should be exercised when interpreting data on counts of offenders and proceedings for the ACT. As the CINs data are recorded on a separate system, this information cannot be linked to other databases that store information about offenders. Therefore, if an offender had been proceeded against for multiple offences recorded across the separate systems then that offender would be counted more than once. This may result in an over count of the total number of offenders, rates and police proceedings for the Australian Capital Territory.

Additionally, CINs data do not contain unique identifiers attached to the records. Therefore, if an offender had received multiple CINs during the reference period they may be counted multiple times. This may result in an over count of the total number of offenders, rates and police proceedings for the Australian Capital Territory.

​​​​​​​Confidentiality

The Census and Statistics Act 1905 provides the authority for the ABS to collect statistical information, and requires that statistical output shall not be published or disseminated in a manner that is likely to enable the identification of a particular person or organisation. This requirement means that the ABS must ensure that any statistical information about individuals cannot be derived from published data.

To minimise the risk of identifying individuals in aggregate statistics, a technique is used to randomly adjust cell values and summary variables. This technique is called perturbation and was applied to the Recorded Crime – Offenders collection for the first time for the 2013–14 release. Perturbation involves small random adjustment of the statistics and is considered the most satisfactory technique for avoiding the release of identifiable statistics while maximising the range of information that can be released. These adjustments have a negligible impact on the underlying pattern of the statistics.

After perturbation, a given published cell value will be consistent across all tables. However, the sum of components of a total will not necessarily give the same result as the published total in a particular table. As such, proportions may add to more or less than 100%. Readers are advised to use the published totals rather than deriving totals based on the component cells.

Cells with relatively small values may be proportionally more affected by perturbation than large values. Users are advised against conducting analyses and drawing conclusions based on small values.

Perturbation has been applied to the data presented in this publication. Previously, a different technique was used to confidentialise these data and therefore there may be small differences between historical data presented in this publication and those published in previous issues of this publication.

Revisions

Revised data for 2017–18 were received from Victoria, Western Australia and Tasmania during the preparation of this publication. Users are advised against making comparisons between data in this issue and in previous issues of the publication, as data may not be directly comparable.

A full set of data on offenders proceeded against via penalty notices in 2017–18 were not available from Victoria Police for the last publication. A complete dataset has since been supplied and revised data for 2017–18 is presented in this publication.

Western Australia Police applied a number of revisions to their offence coding for national statistical purposes. Revised data for 2017–18 is presented in this publication to allow comparison with the new 2018–19 data.

In July 2019 the ABS published the backcast population estimates (for the period 2006 to 2015) for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander persons, as well as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population projections (for the period 2016 to 2031) in Estimates and Projects, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, 2006 to 2031 (cat. no. 3238.0). As a result, offender rates for both the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population and the non-indigenous population in this publication for the years 2008–09 to 2017–18 have been revised.

Total offender rates were also revised for the years 2011–12 to 2015–16 with the finalised rebased population estimates released using the results of the 2016 Census of Population and Housing. Refer to the earlier section on rates for information on how these are calculated.

Comparisons to other ABS data

Recorded crime – victims

There are strong links between victims and offenders recorded by police in their administrative systems. Once a victim is recorded by police an investigation may ensue which could result, although not always, in an offender being proceeded against by police. However, there are a number of limitations in comparing the Recorded Crime – Offenders collection and the Recorded Crime – Victims collection.

  • Data cannot be directly linked.
  • Counting units vary as victims may be counted more than once throughout the reference period.
  • The reference period used in the victims collection is based on the calendar year, while the offenders collection is based on the financial year.
  • Police may detect a crime without it being reported by a victim.
  • ‘Victimless' crimes, such as illicit drug offences or regulatory offences are excluded from the victims collection.
  • Statistics about victims of assault are not comparable across all states and territories due to differences in police procedures; consequently national data are not published.
     

Despite these differences, broad comparisons can be made between the two collections. For more detailed information about data comparability in relation to the Recorded Crime – Victims collection and more generally about using administrative and survey data, refer to the information paper, Measuring Victims of Crime: A Guide to Using Administrative and Survey Data, June 2011 (cat. no. 4500.0.55.001).

For more information about the victims collection, refer to Recorded Crime – Victims, Australia (cat. no. 4510.0).

Criminal courts

Data relating to the number of court action proceedings in Recorded Crime – Offenders are not strictly comparable to the number of defendants sourced from the Criminal Courts collection.

  • Not all court actions initiated by police will proceed to a criminal court as police proceedings may be withdrawn or changed to other legal actions during the course of an investigation.
  • A defendant appearing in a criminal court in Australia may be prosecuted via charges initiated by authorities other than state and territory police.
  • There are lags between when the police initiate action and when a criminal court finalises a defendant's case.
     

For more information about criminal courts refer to Criminal Courts, Australia (cat. no. 4513.0).

Additional data

Other tables may be able to be produced on request to meet individual user requirements. For further information, contact the National Information and Referral Services on 1300 135 070 or email client.services@abs.gov.au.

Family and domestic violence experimental data explanatory notes

This release provides experimental statistics about offenders of selected family and domestic violence (FDV) related offences, as recorded on selected state and territory police administrative recording systems.

The FDV data presented is experimental, with further work required to improve the comparability and quality of the data before including it in the main suite of the publication. These data should be interpreted with caution, taking into account the factors described throughout these explanatory notes.

Definition

Within the context of national Recorded Crime – Offenders statistics, an FDV-related offence is defined as:

"An offence involving at least two persons who are in a specified family or domestic relationship and which has been determined by police officers to be family and/or domestic violence related as part of their investigation."

A specified family or domestic relationship includes:

  • Partner/spouse/husband/wife (including former)
  • Boyfriend/girlfriend (including ex-boyfriend/girlfriend)
  • Parent (including step-parents)
  • Child (including step-children)
  • Other relatives (including but not limited to grandparents, siblings, aunt/uncle, cousin, niece/nephew)
  • Carer
  • Kinship relationships
     

Scope

For the purposes of this publication, FDV-related offences are limited to the following ANZSOC division/subdivision offence types:

  • 01 Homicide and related offences
  • 02 Acts intended to cause injury
  • 03 Sexual assault and related offences
  • 05 Abduction, harassment and other offences against the person
  • 121 Property damage
  • 153 Breach of violence and non-violence orders
     

Coverage

This publication presents data about offenders of FDV-related offences for all jurisdictions except South Australia. South Australia Police are unable to provide an FDV flag due to system constraints. National data about offenders of FDV-related offences are not available for the Recorded Crime – Offenders collection.

Data comparability

The comparability of data about offenders of FDV-related offences may vary across time periods and the selected states and territories due to many factors including:

  • Differences in existing state and territory legislation which determine the types of behaviours and relationships which constitute a family and domestic violence offence
  • Differences or changes in state/territory police operations, business rules and recording practices
  • Differences or changes in reporting behaviour
  • Limitations in the quality or availability of data recorded on various administrative systems used by police
     

Queensland has more FDV offenders with a principal offence of breaches of violence orders and less FDV offenders with a principal offence of acts intended to cause injury. In Queensland where an FDV incident occurs which involves an alleged assault the following procedures are generally followed:

  • If there is an existing violence order, a breach of that order will be recorded but the associated assault may not be recorded against the offender record.
  • If there is no violence order and the victim does not consent to proceeding with an assault charge, the police create an incident record and may issue a police protection order. The assault offence may not be recorded in the crime recording system against an offender.
     

Tasmanian data about offenders with FDV-related offences are only available for offenders proceeded against by court action, and only for the following relationships:

  • Partner/spouse/husband/wife (including former)
  • Boyfriend/girlfriend (including ex-boyfriend/girlfriend)
     

Family and Domestic Violence flag/relationship of offender to victim

Data presented within this release are based primarily on an FDV flag as recorded by police officers where they have determined an offence or incident to be FDV-related as defined by the relevant state or territory legislation under which they operate, or identified as being within a specified family or domestic relationship.

The FDV flag is recorded in New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, Western Australia and Northern Territory Police systems at a proceeding level. This may result in a small number of offences in these jurisdictions being flagged as FDV-related which did not occur within a specified family or domestic relationship. For example, this may occur when police charge an offender with an FDV-related offence as well as an additional offence which occurred against a stranger in the same incident and was dealt with by police as part of the same proceeding.

For the purposes of improving data quality and comparability, known relationship information was drawn upon to identify offenders within a specified family relationship but were not flagged as FDV related by police. Where detailed relationship of offender to victim information was available, offences flagged as FDV-related but which occurred against a stranger were removed from the data; and offences flagged as non FDV-related but occurring within a specified family or domestic relationship were treated as FDV-related. This information was available for Victoria and the Australian Capital Territory from 2014–15; for Western Australia from 2015–16; for New South Wales from 2016–17; and for Queensland for 2018–19. This data was not available for Tasmania and the Northern Territory.

Offences which were flagged by police to be FDV-related but occurred against a police officer were also removed where they were able to be identified.

In the Australian Capital Territory the FDV flag is recorded on police systems at an offence level. This means that the flag is applied separately to each individual offence. Therefore only offences which occurred within a specified family or domestic relationship are flagged by police as FDV-related.

Counting methodology

The FDV offender population counts persons who were proceeded against by police for at least one selected offence which was flagged as FDV-related by police or identified as occurring within a specified family or domestic violence relationship. An offender is only counted once irrespective of how many offences they may have committed within the same incident or how many times they were dealt with by police during the reference period.

For the FDV police proceeding population, an offender may be counted more than once if proceeded against on separate occasions by police during the reference period.

Where an offender was proceeded against for multiple FDV-related offences during the reference period, they were assigned a principal FDV-related offence which has been determined based on the NOI. Any non FDV-related offences were excluded before the ranking process. Therefore, users should be aware that the statistics presented in data cube 6 are not comparable with other data presented within this publication.

The offenders of FDV-related breach of violence and non-violence orders population counts all persons who were proceeded against at least once for this offence when the action was flagged as FDV-related by police or identified as occurring within a specified family or domestic relationship during the reference period. Different to the general population offender count, in order to count all FDV-related breaches of violence and non-violence orders, a principal offence has not been assigned to each offender. Therefore, this count includes offenders with multiple FDV-related offences who would have been assigned a more serious principal offence in the general FDV offender population. As a result of the differing methodologies, the count of offenders with an FDV-related breach of violence and non-violence order is likely to be greater than the number of offenders with a principal offence of FDV-related breaches in the general FDV offender population.

Glossary

Show all

Abduction, harassment and other offences against the person

Acts intended to threaten or harass, or acts that unlawfully deprive another person of their freedom of movement, that are against that person's will or against the will of any parent, guardian or other person having lawful custody or care of that person. This is a division of ANZSOC which includes the following subdivisions: abduction and kidnapping (051), deprivation of liberty/false imprisonment (052) and harassment and threatening behaviour (053).

For ease of reading, abduction, harassment and other offences against the person appears as ‘abduction/harassment’ throughout this publication.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander offender

An offender who identifies as being of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander origin, or both, on at least one occasion on which they are proceeded against by police during the reference period.

Acts intended to cause injury

Acts, excluding attempted murder and those resulting in death, which are intended to cause non-fatal injury or harm to another person and where there is no sexual or acquisitive element. This is a division of ANZSOC which includes the following subdivisions: assault (021) and other acts intended to cause injury (029).

Age

Age is calculated at the earliest date a person was proceeded against by police during the reference period.

Age standardisation

Age standardisation is a statistical method that adjusts crude rates to account for age differences between study populations. Age standardisation enables better comparisons between populations with differing age structures (see explanatory note section). In the context of such a comparison, the key variable of interest is the ratio of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander to non-indigenous age standardised rates, rather than the rates in isolation.

Assault

The direct (and immediate/confrontational) infliction of force, injury or violence upon a person or persons or the direct (and immediate/confrontational) threat of force, injury or violence where there is an apprehension that the threat could be enacted. This offence category is ANZSOC subdivision 021 within division 02 acts intended to cause injury.

Attempted murder

The attempted unlawful killing of another person, where there is either the intent to kill or to cause grievous bodily harm with the knowledge that it was probable that death or grievous harm would occur (reckless indifference to life), not resulting in death. This offence category is ANZSOC subdivision 012 within division 01 homicide and related offences.

Australian and New Zealand Standard Offence Classification (ANZSOC)

The ANZSOC is a hierarchical classification developed by the ABS for use in the collection and publication of crime and justice statistics. It provides a classificatory framework for the comparison of statistics on offences across Australia and in New Zealand. Within the classificatory structure of ANZSOC, divisions represent the broadest categories of offences. The subdivision and group levels provide increasingly detailed dissections of the broad categories. The 2011 version of ANZSOC is used to classify offence data within this publication. For details of the classification refer to Australian and New Zealand Standard Offence Classification, 2011 (cat. no. 1234.0).

Backcast population estimates

After each Census, the ABS produces estimates of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population for the Census year only by using information from the Census (together with some adjustments, the largest being for people missed in the Census). The ABS uses Census year estimates of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population and relevant assumptions on fertility, mortality and migration to compile backcast estimates and projections of this population group.

Blackmail and extortion

The unlawful demanding with intent to gain money, property, or any other benefit from, or with intent to cause detriment to, another person, accompanied by the use of coercive measures, to be carried out at some point in the future if the demand is not met. This may also include the use and/or threatened use of face-to-face force or violence, provided there is a threat of continued violence if the demand is not met. This offence category is ANZSOC subdivision 062 within division 06 robbery, extortion and related offences.

Breach of violence and non-violence orders

An act of omission breaching the conditions of a violence order or non-violence related restraining order. The offence category is ANZSOC subdivision 153 within division 15 offences against justice procedures, government security and government operations. 

Crude offender rates

Crude offender rates are the basic measure of the prevalence of offenders within a population. They are published as the number of offenders per 100,000 of the target population, and are calculated using the following formula:

\( \text{Offender rate per 100,000 persons} = (\frac{\text{Number of offenders}}{\text{Estimated Resident Population}}) \times 100,000\)

Crude offender rates are the actual rates of offending and are not adjusted for any differences in population distributions that may influence the rates. As such, it is preferable to use age standardised rates when comparing rates of offending for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-indigenous populations.

Dangerous or negligent acts endangering persons

Dangerous or negligent acts which, though not intended to cause harm, actually or potentially result in injury to oneself or another person. This is a division of ANZSOC which includes the following subdivisions: dangerous or negligent operation of a vehicle (041) and other dangerous or negligent acts endangering persons (049). Data relating to subdivision 041 are not included in this publication, due to incomplete data availability in some jurisdictions.

For ease of reading dangerous or negligent acts endangering persons appears as ‘dangerous/negligent acts’ throughout this publication.

Deal or traffic in illicit drugs

The supply or purchase of an illicit drug or controlled substance of any quantity, or the possession of an illicit drug or controlled substance where the amount involved is deemed to be of a quantity for commercial activity. This offence category is ANZSOC subdivision 102 within division 10 illicit drug offences.

Deceptive business/government practices

Actions carried out by deceitful or dishonest conduct as part of trade or commercial business activity, with the intent to avoid liability or obtain an advantage, financial or otherwise. This offence category is ANZSOC subdivision 093 within division 09 fraud, deception and related offences.

Disorderly conduct

Offences involving personal conduct that is disorderly or is indicative of criminal intent. This offence category is ANZSOC subdivision 131 within division 13 public order offences.

Drug diversions

A drug diversion is a type of legal action which can be initiated by police as a result of an investigation involving illicit drug related offences. The alleged offender is given the option to take part in a program instead of attending court for prosecution. Drug diversions are categorised as non-court actions in the method of proceeding data item.

Expiation notices

An expiation notice is a type of legal action which can be initiated by police as a result of an investigation of an offence. The offender is given the option to pay a fee instead of attending court for prosecution. Expiation notices are categorised as non-court actions in the method of proceeding data item.

Fare evasion

The act of travelling on public transport without a valid ticket for the specified journey in disregard of the relevant laws and/or regulations. While fare evasion is not a category in the ANZSOC classification, it has been used in this publication to enhance the comparability of theft statistics between states and territories.

An offence involving at least two persons who are in a specified family or domestic relationship and which has been determined by police officers to be family and/or domestic violence related as part of their investigation. A specified family or domestic relationship includes:

  • Partner/spouse/husband/wife (including former)
  • Boyfriend/girlfriend (including ex-boyfriend/girlfriend)
  • Parent (including step-parents)
  • Child (including step-children)
  • Other relatives (including but not limited to grandparents, siblings, aunt/uncle, cousin, niece/nephew)
  • Carer
  • Kinship relationships
     

FDV flagged offence

An offence which has been flagged by police officers on their agency crime recording system as family and domestic violence related.

Forgery and counterfeiting

Actions involving the making or use of false currency or the falsifying of official documents with an intention to deceive, obtain money, goods or services, or obtain a benefit or advantage. This includes the possession of equipment to make false/illegal instruments. This offence category is ANZSOC subdivision 092 within division 09 fraud, deception and related offences.

Offences involving a dishonest act or omission carried out with the purpose of deceiving to obtain a benefit. This is a division of ANZSOC which includes the following subdivisions: obtain benefit by deception (091), forgery and counterfeiting (092), deceptive business/government practices (093) and other fraud and deception offences (099).

For ease of reading fraud, deception and related offences appears as ‘fraud/deception’ throughout this publication.

Unlawfully kill, attempt to unlawfully kill or conspiracy to kill another person. This is a division of ANZSOC which includes the following subdivisions: murder (011), attempted murder (012) and manslaughter and driving causing death (013).

Illicit drug offences

The possessing, selling, dealing or trafficking, importing or exporting, manufacturing or cultivating of drugs or other substances prohibited under legislation. This is a division of ANZSOC which includes the following subdivisions: import or export illicit drugs (101), deal or traffic in illicit drugs (102), manufacture or cultivate illicit drugs (103), possess and/or use illicit drugs (104) and other illicit drug offences (109).

Manslaughter and driving causing death

The unlawful killing of another person while deprived of the power of self-control by provocation, or under circumstances amounting to diminished responsibility or without intent to kill, as a result of a careless, reckless, negligent, unlawful or dangerous act. This offence category is ANZSOC subdivision 013 within division 01 homicide and related offences.

Manufacture or cultivate illicit drugs

Actions resulting or intended to result in either the manufacture of controlled substances, or growing of plants used to make illicit drugs. This offence category is ANZSOC subdivision 103 within division 10 illicit drug offences.

Mean

The arithmetic average.

Median

The middle value of a set of values when the values are sorted in order.

Method of proceeding

The method of proceeding describes the type of legal action (court or non-court) initiated by police against a person as a result of an investigation of an offence(s). Details of the classification hierarchy are outlined below.

CodeMethod of proceeding
100Court action, not further defined
110Charge and bail/remand
120Charge and summons
190Other court action, not elsewhere classified
200Non-court action, not further defined
210Informal caution or informal warning
220Formal caution or formal warning
230Conference
240Counselling (includes drug diversion schemes)
250Penalty notices
290Other non-court action, not elsewhere classified
999Not stated

Miscellaneous offences

Offences involving the breach of statutory rules or regulations governing activities that are prima facie legal, where such offences are not explicitly dealt with under any other division of ANZSOC. This is a division of ANZSOC which includes the following subdivisions: defamation, libel and privacy offences (161), public health and safety offences (162), commercial/industry/financial regulation (163) and other miscellaneous offences (169).

Motor vehicle theft

The taking of another person's motor vehicle illegally and without permission, with the intent of temporarily or permanently depriving the owner/possessor of the use of the motor vehicle. Additionally, the taking of another person's motor vehicle parts or its contents illegally, whether or not this also involves the taking of the motor vehicle. A motor vehicle is defined as any self-propelled vehicle that runs on the land surface and is eligible for registration for use on public roads. This includes, but is not limited to: car, motorcycle, motorised caravan/campervan, truck, lorry, tractor, bus, grader, etc. This offence category is ANZSOC subdivision 081 within division 08 theft and related offences.

Murder

Unlawfully kill another person where there is one or more of the following: the intent to kill; the intent to cause grievous bodily harm, with the knowledge that it was probable that death or grievous bodily harm would occur (reckless indifference to life); or without intent to kill in the course of committing a crime (felony murder). This offence category is ANZSOC subdivision 011 within division 01 homicide and related offences.

National Offence Index (NOI)

The National Offence Index is a ranking of the ANZSOC codes from most serious to least serious, and is used to determine a principal offence where a person is proceeded against for more than one offence type during the reference period. Offences are allocated a ranking and the highest ranking offence (i.e. the offence closest to 1) is selected as the principal offence. The 2018 version of the NOI has been used for this publication. For a copy of the index and for further detail refer to National Offence Index, 2018 (cat. no. 1234.0.55.001).

Non-assaultive sexual offences

Offences of a sexual nature, or intent thereof, against another person that do not involve physical contact with the person and where the person does not give consent, gives consent as a result of intimidation or deception, or consent is proscribed (i.e. the person is legally deemed incapable of giving consent because of youth, temporary/permanent (mental) incapacity or there is a familial relationship). This offence category is ANZSOC subdivision 032 within division 03 sexual assault and related offences.

Non-indigenous

Offenders who identify as neither Aboriginal nor Torres Strait Islander.

Not stated indigenous status

Where the indigenous status of the offender is not able to be identified or recorded.

Obtain benefit by deception

The use of deception or impersonation with the intent of dishonestly obtaining property, goods, services or other benefit, or to avoid disbenefit. This offence category is ANZSOC subdivision 091 within division 09 fraud, deception and related offences.

Offence

Any act or omission by a person or persons for which a penalty could be imposed by the Australian legal system.

Offences against justice procedures

An act or omission prejudicial to the effective carrying out of justice procedures other than justice orders. This offence category is ANZSOC subdivision 156 within division 15 offences against justice procedures, government security and government operations.

Offences against justice procedures, government security and government operations

An act or omission that is deemed to be prejudicial to the effective carrying out of justice procedures or any government operations. This includes general government operations as well as those specifically concerned with maintaining government security. This is a division of ANZSOC which includes the following subdivisions: breach of custodial order offences (151), breach of community-based orders (152), breach of violence and non-violence orders (153), offences against government operations (154), offences against government security (155) and offences against justice procedures (156). Breach of bail offences (ANZSOC group 1523) are excluded from the data in this publication, due to issues with data comparability between the states and territories.

For ease of reading ‘offences against justice procedures, government security and government operations’ appears as ‘offences against justice’ throughout this publication.

Offender

A person aged 10 years or over who is proceeded against and recorded by police for one or more criminal offences. An offender is only counted once during the reference period irrespective of the number of offences committed or the number of separate occasions that police proceeded against that offender.

Offender of family and domestic violence

An offender recorded as having at least one offence that was flagged by police as being FDV-related.

Offender rates

Offender rates are expressed as the number of offenders per 100,000 of the relevant Estimated Resident Population (ERP). See Explanatory Notes.

Offensive conduct

Offences involving personal conduct that is deemed by police to be offensive to members of the public. This offence category is ANZSOC subdivision 133 within division 13 public order offences.

Other acts intended to cause injury

Acts involving the indirect and non-confrontational infliction of harm, injury or violence upon a person. This offence category is ANZSOC subdivision 029 within division 02 acts intended to cause injury.

Other fraud and deception offences

Other fraud and deception offences not included elsewhere in division 09. This offence category is ANZSOC subdivision 099 within division 09 fraud, deception and related offences.

Police proceeding

A proceeding is a legal action initiated against an alleged offender for an offence(s). In this publication, police proceedings represent a count for each separate occasion on which police initiate a legal action against an offender. Each proceeding is classified to a principal offence and principal method of proceeding. It does not represent a count of offences, as multiple offences can occur within a proceeding.

Police proceedings - court actions

A type of legal action initiated by police against an offender. Court actions largely comprise the laying of charges against an alleged offender that must be answered in court. Offenders may be taken into custody, granted bail or issued with a summons for these charges pending an appearance in court.

Police proceedings - non-court actions

A type of legal action initiated by police against an offender. Non-court actions comprise legal actions such as informal or formal cautions/warnings, conferencing, counselling such as drug diversionary schemes, or the issuing of penalty or infringement notices, which do not require an appearance in court.

Possess and/or use illicit drugs

The possession of a non-commercial quantity and/or use of an illicit drug or other controlled substance. This offence category is ANZSOC subdivision 104 within division 10 illicit drug offences.

Principal method of proceeding

The main legal action (court or non-court) initiated by police for an offender based on the hierarchy of the method of proceeding classification.

Principal offence

The offence category, based on ANZSOC, which describes the most serious offence type for which a person has been proceeded against by police during the reference period. The principal offence is determined by the ranking of offences in the NOI (see National Offence Index).

Prohibited and regulated weapons and explosives offences

Offences involving prohibited or regulated weapons and explosives. This is a division of ANZSOC which includes the following subdivisions: prohibited weapons/explosives offences (111) and regulated weapons/explosives offences (112).

For ease of reading prohibited and regulated weapons and explosives offences appears as ‘weapons/explosives’ throughout this publication.

Property damage and environmental pollution

The wilful and unlawful destruction, damage or defacement of public or private property, or the pollution of property or a definable entity held in common by the community. This is a division of ANZSOC which includes the following subdivisions: property damage (121) and environmental pollution (122).

Public order offences

Offences involving personal conduct that involves, or may lead to, a breach of public order or decency, or that is indicative of criminal intent, or that is otherwise regulated or prohibited on moral or ethical grounds. In general these offences do not involve a specific victim or victims; however, some offences, such as offensive language and offensive behaviour, may be directed towards a single victim. This is a division of ANZSOC which includes the following subdivisions: disorderly conduct (131), regulated public order offences (132) and offensive conduct (133).

Ratio

A way of concisely showing the relationship of one quantity relative to another.

Receive or handle proceeds of crime

Receive, handle, possess money or goods taken or obtained illegally. This offence category is ANZSOC subdivision 083 within division 08 theft and related offences.

Regulated public order offences

Offences involving behaviour that is regulated or prohibited on moral or ethical grounds. This offence category is ANZSOC subdivision 132 within division 13 public order offences.

Acts intended to unlawfully gain money, property or any other thing of value from, or to cause detriment to, another person by using the threat of force or any other coercive measure. This is a division of ANZSOC which includes the following subdivisions: robbery (061) and blackmail and extortion (062).

For ease of reading robbery, extortion and related offences appears as ‘robbery/extortion’ throughout this publication.

Sexual assault

Physical contact, or intent of contact, of a sexual nature directed towards another person where that person does not give consent, gives consent as a result of intimidation or deception, or consent is proscribed (i.e. the person is legally deemed incapable of giving consent because of youth, temporary/permanent (mental) incapacity or there is a familial relationship). This offence category is ANZSOC subdivision 031 within division 03 sexual assault and related offences.

Acts, or intent of acts, of a sexual nature against another person, which are non-consensual or where consent is proscribed. This is a division of ANZSOC which includes the following subdivisions: sexual assault (031) and non-assaultive sexual offences (032).

The unlawful taking or obtaining of money or goods, not involving the use of force, threat of force or violence, coercion or deception, with the intent to permanently or temporarily deprive the owner or possessor of the use of the money or goods, or the receiving or handling of money or goods obtained unlawfully. This is a division of ANZSOC which includes the following subdivisions: motor vehicle theft and related offences (081), theft (except motor vehicles) (082), receive or handle proceeds of crime (083) and illegal use of property (except motor vehicles) (084).

For ease of reading theft and related offences appears as ‘theft’ throughout this publication.

Theft (except motor vehicles)

The unlawful taking or obtaining of money, goods, services (other than from motor vehicles) or non-motorised vehicles, without the use of force, threat of force or violence, coercion or deception, with the intent to permanently deprive the owner or possessor of the use of the money or the goods. The definition of a vehicle (other than a motor vehicle) includes but is not limited to: tram, train, ship, aircraft, vessel or any other (non-motorised) vehicle. This offence category is ANZSOC subdivision 082 within division 08 theft and related offences.

Traffic and vehicle regulatory offences

Offences relating to vehicles and most forms of road traffic, including offences pertaining to licensing, motor vehicle registration, roadworthiness or use of vehicles, bicycle offences and pedestrian offences. Data for this division are not presented in this publication due to issues of data availability in some jurisdictions.

Unlawful entry with intent/burglary, break and enter

The unlawful entry of a structure with the intent to commit an offence, where the entry is either forced or unforced.

For ease of reading unlawful entry with intent/burglary, break and enter appears as ‘Unlawful entry with intent’ throughout this publication.

Youth offenders

Alleged offenders aged between 10 and 17 years proceeded against by police during the reference period. This term was used to refer to offenders aged between 10 and 19 years in publications prior to the 2015–16 data release.

Quality declaration

Institutional environment

In 1990 the Commonwealth and the states and territories formed an Inter-Governmental Agreement regarding the establishment of the National Crime Statistics Unit (NCSU) as a National Common Police Service. The role of the NCSU is to initiate, coordinate and oversee the development and production of nationally consistent crime statistics. The NCSU first released data on victims of crime in May 1994, while Recorded Crime – Offenders data have been available since the 2007–08 reference period. This publication contains data from the 2008–09 reference period onwards.

The statistics contained in the publication are provided from administrative systems maintained by state and territory police. Data have been compiled according to national standards in order to maximise consistency between the states and territories. The NCSU compiles, analyses, publishes and disseminates national offenders statistics subject to the provisions in the Census and Statistics Act 1905 (Cth).

For information on the institutional environment of the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), including the legislative obligations of the ABS, financing and governance arrangements, and mechanisms for scrutiny of ABS operations, please see ABS Institutional Environment.

Relevance

Recorded Crime – Offenders (cat. no. 4519.0) presents statistics about the characteristics of alleged offenders who were proceeded against by police during the period 1 July 2018 to 30 June 2019, for all states and territories. The collection presents information about alleged offenders aged 10 years and over. It also includes information about the most serious offence, referred to as the principal offence, associated with an alleged offender. For the offender population, an offender is only counted once irrespective of how many offences they may have committed within the same incident or how many times they were dealt with by police during the reference period.

Statistics are also presented on the number of proceedings that police initiated in the form of court and non-court actions during 2018–19 for all states and territories except South Australia and Western Australia. For the proceeding population, an offender may be counted more than once if proceeded against on separate occasions by police during the reference period.

All criminal offences where police agencies have the authority to take legal action against an individual are included, except motor vehicle/traffic related offences and breach of bail. Depending on the type of offence committed, police will either initiate a court or non-court action. Court actions largely comprise the laying of charges against an alleged offender that must be answered in court. Offenders may be taken into custody, granted bail or issued with a summons for these charges pending an appearance in court. The proceeding may also be withdrawn or changed from a court to a non-court action. Non-court actions comprise legal actions such as informal or formal cautions/warnings, conferencing, counselling, drug diversionary schemes, or the issuing of penalty or infringement notices, which do not require an appearance in court.

Timeliness

The Recorded Crime – Offenders collection is conducted annually for offenders who were proceeded against and recorded by police during the period 1 July to 30 June. Data and accompanying data cubes are expected to be released within 8 months of the reference period. Each release includes data for the current reference year, along with comparisons of data with previous time periods for some data items.

Accuracy

Recorded Crime – Offenders data are extracted from administrative systems maintained by state and territory police. The data are not subject to sampling error. Non-sampling errors can arise from inaccuracies in recording by police agencies, or when the data are extracted, processed and disseminated. The ABS has limited influence over any errors associated with data recorded by external sources. The ABS provides a collection manual which outlines the scope, coverage, counting rules and data item definitions for the Recorded Crime – Offenders collection to minimise data extraction errors. Efficient processing and editing procedures are in place within the ABS to minimise processing and reporting errors. Data were quality assured by the custodians of the source data to mitigate against the risk of any errors introduced during data processing being published.

Published data are revised as required to ensure the series presents the most up to date statistics. Revisions to historical data are made when new information about the comparability of data over time is identified. This may occur when errors or omissions are identified in the administrative data supplied to the ABS in prior years.

Coherence

In order to ensure consistency in the data for each state and territory, Recorded Crime – Offenders statistics are compiled according to national standards and classifications. The collection uses the Australian and New Zealand Standard Offence Classification, 2011 (cat. no. 1234.0) to classify offence types and applies a set of national counting rules to establish the number of offenders and police proceedings. However, some differences still occur due to state and territory legislation, different recording practices, different policies across jurisdictions to combat particular types of crime, and limitations of the various administrative databases that are used to extract the data. The statistical impacts of these are detailed in the explanatory note section.

Due to differing scope and counting rules, the data in the Recorded Crime – Offenders publication are not strictly comparable with data published in other national and state/territory publications (many of which deal with reported offences, rather than unique offenders); however, broad comparisons can still be made.

Interpretability

The Recorded Crime – Offenders publication contains detailed explanatory notes and a glossary that provide information on the data sources, counting rules, terminology, classifications and other technical aspects associated with these statistics.

Offender rates are included in the publication to assist in the comparison of offender populations across states and territories. Offender rates by indigenous status, both crude and age standardised, are included to allow for meaningful comparisons of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-indigenous offender populations.

Accessibility

In addition to the information provided in the publication, data cube tables are also available providing detailed breakdowns by state and territory. Please refer to the Data download section for the products that are available from this collection.

If the required information is not available from the publication or the data cubes, the National Information and Referral Services may be able to help you with a customised service to suit your needs. Contact 1300 135 070 or email client.services@abs.gov.au.

Abbreviations

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ABSAustralian Bureau of Statistics
ACTAustralian Capital Territory
ANZSOCAustralian and New Zealand Standard Offence Classification
cat. no.Catalogue number
CINCriminal Infringement Notice
CthCommonwealth
ERPEstimated Resident Population
FDVFamily and Domestic Violence
GENGeneral Expiation Notice
NCSUNational Crime Statistics Unit
n.e.c.not elsewhere classified
n.f.d.not further defined
NOINational Offence Index
NSWNew South Wales
NTNorthern Territory
QldQueensland
SASouth Australia
Tas.Tasmania
Vic.Victoria
WAWestern Australia