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Release date: Monday, 19 August 2013 Embargo: 9.30am
Urban areas in NSW have benefited much more from the decline in theft and robbery offences since 2000 than have rural areas, according to a new report released today by the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research.
The Bureau examined trends in theft and robbery offences across NSW between 2000 and 2012. Nine specific offences were examined:
1. Break and enter (dwelling and non-dwelling)2. Motor vehicle theft3. Steal from motor vehicle4. Steal from dwelling5. Steal from person6. Steal from retail store7. Robbery without a weapon8. Robbery with a firearm9. Robbery with a non-firearm weapon
In most parts of the State these offences were much less common in 2012 than they were in 2000. The falls in crime, however, have been much more substantial in urban areas than in regional and remote parts of NSW.
For example, while the rate of break and enter in the Sydney Statistical Division (SD) declined by 69.2 per cent between 2000 and 2012, the falls in rates of this offence in the Murrumbidgee, Northern, Far West and Murray SD ranged between 11.5 and 32.8 per cent.
Again, while rates of motor vehicle theft in the Sydney SD fell by 74.8 per cent between 2000 and 2012, rates of motor vehicle theft in the Far West SD fell by only 12.7 per cent.
In some rural areas, some types of property crime have been increasing rather than falling.
Between 2000 and 2012, the Murrumbidgee SD experienced a 5.9 per cent increase in stealing from a motor vehicle. Over the same time period rates of the same offence in Sydney fell by 63.7 per cent.
Between 2000 and 2012, the Northern SD experienced a 15.8 per cent increase in the rate of motor vehicle theft. Over the same time period, the NSW rate of motor vehicle theft declined by 69.2 per cent.
The fact that crime rates are falling faster in urban areas than in regional and remote areas means that rates of theft and robbery in urban areas are moving closer to the State average, whereas rates of theft and robbery in regional and remote areas are moving (in relative terms) further away from the State average.
According to the director of the Bureau, Dr Don Weatherburn, the uneven nature of the fall in crime highlights a potential weakness in the current approach to measuring police performance in reducing crime under the State Plan.
'The current approach puts considerable emphasis on reducing overall levels of crime across the State. Large reductions in overall levels of crime, however, do not necessarily signal significant improvements in public safety in each area of the State, especially if most of the reduction occurs in urban areas with high crime volumes but not necessarily high crime rates (i.e. crimes per head of population).
In light of this, the Bureau suggests that the goal of reducing overall levels of crime needs to be balanced against that of reducing the number of 'crime-prone' communities.
Further enquiries: Dr Don Weatherburn 9231-9190
Copies of the report and further breakdowns by LGA: