Crime in Australia

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Australia is generally a safe country with a low rate of crime.

Statistics show that the homicide rate has actually decreased in almost every state since 2002.[1] Crime statistics are monitored by the Australian Institute of Criminology and the Australian Bureau of Statistics provide comparative breakdowns for different types of crimes.[2] State police and justice departments also compile information on the patterns of regional crime. It may be difficult to compare crime rates between Australian states due to differences in methodology and classification.

The low rate of crime per capita is well established in international statistics[3]

Crime statistics[edit]

Data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) shows that during the 2009/10 year police took action against 375,259 people,[4] up by 4.8 percent from 2008/09 figures.[4] Young offenders aged 10 to 19 comprised about 29 percent of the total offender population across Australia.[4]

In the 2009/10 financial year, 84,100 women had police action taken against them across Australia, up by six percent compared with the previous year.[4] 290,400 men had police action taken against them in 2009/10, an annual increase of 4 percent.[4] About 30 percent of the women were accused of theft, whereas the most common principal offence for men was intention to cause injury and matters related to public order.[4]

Research from the Australian Institute of Criminology, shows that from 1990 until the middle of 2011, 40 percent of people who were fatally shot by police were suffering from a mental illness. In NSW, the fatalities included Adam Salter (shot dead in Sydney in 2009); Elijah Holcombe (shot dead in Armidale in 2009); and Roni Levi (shot dead on Bondi Beach in 1997). In Victoria, the fatalities included the 2008 highly controversial shooting death of Tyler Cassidy. At age 15, Cassidy is believed to be the youngest person ever shot dead by police in Australia.[5]

As of 2010, the homicide rate of Australia is 1.2 per 100,000.[6]

Crime by State[edit]

Australian Capital Territory[edit]

New South Wales[edit]

Northern Territory[edit]


Main article: Crime in Queensland

South Australia[edit]


Main article: Crime in Tasmania


Main article: Crime in Victoria

Western Australia[edit]



Main article: Convicts in Australia

During the late 18th and 19th centuries, large numbers of convicts were transported to the various Australian penal colonies by the British government.[7] One of the primary reasons for the British settlement of Australia was the establishment of a penal colony to alleviate pressure on their overburdened correctional facilities. Over the 80 years more than 165,000 convicts were transported to Australia.[8]

Discipline was poor among the early convicts, with high rates of theft, physical and sexual assault. Law enforcement was initially the preserve of the New South Wales Marine Corps, which accompanied the First Fleet. Australia's first civilian crime prevention force was established in August 1789, comprising a twelve-man night watch authorised to patrol the settlement at Sydney Cove and with powers "for the apprehending and securing for examination" anyone suspected of "felony, trespass or misdemeanour."[9]

Bushrangers of Australia[edit]

Main article: Bushranger

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

Riots in Australia[edit]

See also - Civil disturbances in Western Australia

Law enforcement in Australia[edit]

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.

Civic organisations[edit]


Major crimes in Australia[edit]

Australian crime related books and media[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Dearden, Jack; Jones, Warwick. Homicide in Australia: 2006-07 National Homicide Monitoring Program annual report (PDF) (Report). Canberra: Australian Institute of Criminology. p. 113. 
  2. ^ Australian Institute of Criminology
  3. ^ "Global Study on Homicide 2011" (PDF). UNODC. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f La Canna, Xavier (24 February 2011). "Women increasingly target of police action". The Sydney Morning Herald. 
  5. ^ Quentin McDermott (March 5, 2012). "Shooting deaths spark call for mental health overhaul". ABC News. 
  6. ^ Recorded Crime-Victims (PDF) (Report). Canberra: Australian Bureau of Statistics. 
  7. ^ Shorter Oxford English Dictionary. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 2002. ISBN 0-19-860575-7. convictism noun (Hist.) the system of penal settlements for convicts; the body of convicts so transported M19 
  8. ^ Convict Records,
  9. ^ Governor Arthur Phillip and Advocate-General David Collins, Regulations for the night-watch, 7 August 1789. Cited in Cobley, John (1963). Sydney Cove: 1789-1790. Angus & Robertson. p. 77. ISBN 0207141711. 

External links[edit]