Media release: Trends in the age-specific rate of offending

Release date: Tuesday, 2 December 2014, 10.30am

Full report - Young but not so restless: Trends in the age-specific rate of offending (pdf - 620Kb)

New figures released today by the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research show that the number of people detained by police (i.e. arrested) for property crime and robbery has fallen sharply since around 2001 and is much lower now than it was 15 years ago.

The decline has been most pronounced among adolescent and young adults. Between 1998 and 2004 the rate of arrest of 15-17 year olds fell by 35.8 per cent, while the arrest rate for 18-20 year olds fell by 53.6 per cent.

The pattern is very similar for motor vehicle theft. The age groups with the largest falls in rates of offending are those aged 15-17 (down 68.6% from 1995 to 2012) and those aged 18-20 (down 70.1% from 1995 to 2012).

The pattern for robbery is more variable. Rates of offending amongst 15-17 year olds show a rapid increase between 1995 and 1997, slight dip in 1998 and 2000, a peak in 2001 and then a rapid decrease between 2001 and 2004.

A similar pattern is observed for robbery among 18-20 year olds during the period 1995 to 2004. The rate at which people in this age group were detained for robbery first rose and fell between 1995 and 2004 and then rose and fell (again) between 2005 and 2012.

The rate at which 21-24 year olds were detained for robbery declined between 1999 and 2012. A similar but less pronounced pattern is seen for 25-29 year olds.

The rate at which people were detained for serious assault remained fairly stable for all age groups up until around 2003. Thereafter the rate rose rapidly for 15-20 year olds, peaking at around 2008 and then falling from 2008 to 2012.

The rate at which older age groups have been detained by police for assault remained fairly steady since 1999 but over the last three years has slowly declined.

According to the director of the Bureau, Dr Don Weatherburn, today's teenagers are far less likely to get involved in theft and robbery than their predecessors 15 years ago. 

'The big challenge now is reducing the rate at which young people get involved in assault. The trends over the last three years are very encouraging but a lot will depend on whether the current fall in alcohol misuse by young people continues.'

Further enquiries: Dr Don Weatherburn. Ph: 9231-9190
Copies of the report: