Violent crime is defined in Australia to include homicide, assault, sexual assault, robbery and kidnapping. Between 1999-2009 the rate of homicide seems to have fallen affecting 293 victims, down from 385 victims in 1999. The rates of robbery have also fallen from affecting 22,606 victims in 1999 to affecting 15,238 in 2009. In addition, kidnapping/abduction have also markedly reduced from 1999 to 2009 affecting 766 and 564 victims respectively.
Despite these positive falls in violent crimes, the rate of assault, however, has increased from 134,271 in 1999 to 175,277 in 2009. Further, in the past 10 years it has been recorded that sexual assault has increased by 28 percent. This is despite there being a decrease in sexual assault since 2008.
In terms of UEWI property crimes (defined by the ABS as the unlawful entry of a structure with the intent to commit an offence including burglary, break and enter, and some theft) residential locations and retail locations posed the most prevalent locations for such an offence providing for 68% and 12% of all UEWIs respectively. The lest common location for an UEWI was the street/footpath. In terms of MVT offences, which refers to the taking of a motor vehicle unlawfully or without permission, out in the public was the most common location (53%). The least common location for an MVT offence was dwelling (0%). All ‘other’ theft crimes had the highest prevalence in retail locations (33%). The least common location for an ‘other’ theft crime, disregarding crimes where location is not specified, was in a recreational location.
In regards to feelings of personal safety, it seems 26% of all adults over 18 feel unsafe at night when they are alone. In terms of gender influence, women are more likely to feel unsafe when alone than men, representing 37%. In terms of the influence of age, there was not a great difference between the 18-24 years age group and the over 25 years age group with respect to the feeling of safety. Further, the mature population did not report a higher degree of unsafety compared to other adults. This is in part attributed to behavioural differences including avoiding situations which would cause them to feel unsafe.
Despite women reporting a greater feeling of being unsafe, men in fact are more likely to be a victim of crime. Statistics reveal that between 2008 and 2009, men represented 58% of adults affected by personal crime. Further, in regards to age, despite young people (between 18-24) feeling equally safe as the rest of the adult population, they are twice as likely to be the victim of personal crime compared to adults 25 years and over.
It is interesting to note that despite adults avoiding transport, especially at night, due to feelings of unsafety, property offences were least likely to occur on transport providing for only 6%. This could be associated with the stigma surrounding public transport as a service for those who can’t obtain other means of transport.
Australian Bureau of Statistics (2010) Who’s afraid? Feelings of personal safety. In Australian Social Trends. Cat. No. 4102.0. Canberra.
Australian Institute of Criminology (2011) Australian crime: Facts and figures 2010. Canberra.