Commentary on the NSW Crime and Safety Survey Findings by BOCSAR

Release date: 5 December 2003
"Figures released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) provide independent confirmation of the drop in crime in New South Wales over the last three years", the Director of the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research said today.

The ABS figures are important because they are based on a representative survey of nearly 10,000 NSW residents aged 15 years and over. They therefore capture all crime, not just crimes reported to police.

The survey shows that between 2001 and 2003, the overall prevalence of household crime (break and enter, attempted break and enter and motor vehicle theft) fell by 18 per cent, while the overall prevalence of personal crime fell by 12 per cent.

The survey shows that, between 2001 and 2003 the prevalence of break and enter in NSW fell by 19 per cent, from 6.3 per cent of households to 5.1 per cent of households.

Motor vehicle thefts fell by 38 per cent, from 2.4 per cent to 1.5 per cent of households. Assaults fell by 17 per cent, from 4.2 per cent of people to 3.5 per cent.

The prevalence of robbery and sexual assault essentially remained stable (at 1% for robbery and 0.5% for sexual assault).

The ABS survey also contains other encouraging news for police. The percentage of assault victims willing to report the offence to police has risen by about thirty per cent, from 30 per cent of victims to 39 per cent.

The percentage of the NSW population who say they have no crime or public nuisance problem in their neighbourhood has risen by 13 per cent, from 45 per cent of people to about 50 per cent.

As in past surveys a small percentage of violent crime victims account for a large percentage of crime. In the case of assault 44 per cent of victims account for 77 per cent of incidents. In the case of robbery, 20 per cent of victims account for 43 per cent of incidents.

The young are much more at risk of personal crime than those who are older. Nearly one in 10 young people aged 15-24, experience some form of personal crime in every 12-month period. The rate of personal crime victimisation amongst those who are aged 55 years and over is only about a quarter of this.

Commenting on the findings, the Director of the Bureau, Dr Don Weatherburn, said that they provided reassuring evidence that the drop in crime showing up in police statistics is real and not just a result of reduced reporting of crime by citizens or reduced recording of crime by police.

Note: Police figures reported by the Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research have recently shown significant decreases in the incidence of robbery. Unlike the Crime and Safety survey, these figures include commercial victims.

Further enquiries:
Dr Don Weatherburn (02) 9231 9190 (wk) / 0419 494 408 (mob)