Firearms and violent crime in New South Wales: 1995-2005


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Release Date: Wednesday, 27 September 2006

The total number of criminal incidents involving a firearm in NSW is now about 44 per cent lower than its peak in 1997, according to figures released today by the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research.

The Bureau examined trends in firearms and violent crime in NSW between 1995 and 2005.

Last year about 15 people in NSW were murdered with some kind of firearm, compared with 23 people back in 2001. The drop in murders involving handguns has been particularly marked. Last year there were five murders with a handgun compared with 12 in 2001.

The Bureau also looked at incidents involving firearms that did not result in a death. Shooting incidents (i.e. Recorded incidents of shoot with intent) rose by 83 per cent between 1995 and 2001. Since 2001 they have fallen by 40 per cent.

As with murders, the fall in shooting incidents involving handguns has been particularly marked, falling from a peak of 53 incidents in 2001 to around 20 incidents in 2005 (i.e. a fall of about 62 per cent).

Robberies with a firearm have shown the most spectacular decline. The incidence of this offence peaked in 1997, when police recorded over 1,200 offences. Last year, NSW Police recorded fewer than 500 robberies involving firearms.

The director of the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research described the figures as very encouraging.

"When we looked at this issue back in 2001, the trends were very troubling indeed. It now looks as if the effort the NSW Police put into reducing firearm trafficking and firearm offences has paid off".

"It's particularly encouraging to see the sharp decline in shooting incidents involving 15-19 year old offenders. It was this age group that caused the huge increase in the homicide rates in the United States between 1985 and 1991".

Further enquiries: Dr Don Weatherburn 9231-9190 or 0419-494-408.