Half of NSW men have been in trouble with police

Release date: Wednesday, 10.30am 23 May, 2018

Full report: Offending over the life course: Contact with the NSW criminal justice system between age 10 and age 33, pdf 973Kb


New research by the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research (BOCSAR) shows that nearly a half (48.4%) of all men in NSW born in 1984 (and now 33 years of age) [1] have had some form of action taken against them by the NSW police.

The actions include either being formally cautioned by police, including cannabis cautions, being referred to a youth justice conference or being charged with an offence and taken to court. The most common form of police contact was being taken to court for a driving offence, including drink driving and driving while disqualified.

More than one in six women (15.8%) and more than a third (35.5%) of the Aboriginal population born in 1984 have been proceeded against in one of these ways over the last 23 years.

BOCSAR also found a surprisingly high proportion of those born in 1984 had also served time in prison. The percentages of males, females and Aboriginal Australians born in 1984 who have received a custodial penalty over the preceding 23 years were 4.2 per cent, 0.5 per cent a­nd 13.2 per cent, respectively.

One of the most powerful predictors of the number of contacts with the criminal justice system (CJS) was the age of first contact. Cohort members aged under 15 at their first contact re-appeared in court 7.5 times more often than those whose first contact occurred when they were 25 years or older.

Likewise, those aged 10-14 years at their first contact received more than five prison terms over the next 23 years, compared with an average of 1.2 for those whose first CJS contact occurred when they were 25 or older.

Repeat offenders make a disproportionate contribution to demand on criminal justice resources. Remarkably, the top 10 per cent of the 1984 birth cohort, in terms of court contacts and prison sentences, accounted for 43 per cent of all court contacts and 39 per cent of all prison sentences.

Commenting on the findings, the executive director of BOCSAR, Dr Don Weatherburn, said that most of those who get into trouble with police are not persistent offenders.

'Those who start offending when they are young, however, account for a very large share of all criminal court appearances and imprisonments. That is why early intervention to reduce the risk of further offending is so important."

Further enquiries: Dr Don Weatherburn (02) 8346 1100
Copies of the report: www.bocsar.nsw.gov.au


[1] This age cohort was chosen simply because they could be followed up for longer than any other age cohort.