NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics response to: 'Time to come clean on crime stats each week'

Release date: 23 October 2003
"The Shadow's Police Minister's allegations of a cover-up in relation to crime statistics are offensive and entirely without foundation" the Director of NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics, Dr Don Weatherburn, said today.

"Mr Debnam put out his media release without making any attempt to contact me or anyone else in the Bureau to find out whether he could obtain information on trends in gun crime since the Bureau's annual report was published earlier this year.

"Had he done so he would have been promptly advised that, in the twenty-four months to June this year the number of 'shoot with intent' incidents in NSW has actually fallen (see attached graph), although the fall has not been statistically significant".

"He would also have been advised that over the same 24 month period the NSW murder rate has remained stable while the firearm robbery rate has fallen by 15 per cent. Everyone is concerned about the recent spate of shooting incidents. However it is far too soon to tell whether this spate signals a new upward trend".

"It is worth noting, that the present arrangement under which the Bureau puts out annual reports on crime, far from being part of a crime statistics cover-up by the present Government, was actually put in place under the previous Greiner Government".

"The Bureau is currently reviewing this arrangement, with a view to putting out more frequent crime statistics reports. However we do not propose to put out weekly crime statistics reports for three reasons".

"Firstly, many reports of crime do not arrive for weeks or sometimes months after the event. The production of weekly crime statistics reports would give the impression that crime was trending down even when it wasn't".

"Secondly, the inherent volatility of weekly crime figures, particularly in regional NSW, would make week to week comparisons of crime figures all but meaningless".

"Thirdly, despite what Mr Debnam says, the production of crime statistics is a resource intensive exercise. No State or Territory in Australia, and few jurisdictions overseas produce weekly crime statistics. The normal practice is to produce crime statistics annually, half-yearly or quarterly".

"However we are mindful of the need for more frequent updates on crime and we will be announcing the changes we propose to make to our statistical services later this year".

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