Author Derek Goh and Stephanie Ramsey
Published April 2016
Report Type Bureau Brief No. 115
Subject Assault; Crime statistics; Theft / Property crime
Keywords trends, crime statistics, property crime, violent crime

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The aim of this paper is to analyse the trends in the rates of annual recorded incidents of 10 categories of property and violent crime for the period 1990 to 2015 in New South Wales (NSW).


Offence rates were calculated using criminal incident data from the NSW Police Force Computerised Operational Policing System (COPS) for the period 1995 to 2015, and the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research’s recorded crime statistics report series for the period 1990 to 1994. Kendall’s trend test was run on the 26 annual rates for each of the 10 offence categories.


Some categories of crime in NSW are now at the lowest recorded levels they have been for over 25 years. Comparing per capita rates of crime in 2015 with per capita rates in 1990, lower rates were found for: robbery with a firearm (86% lower); motor vehicle theft (80% lower); break and enter non-dwelling (75% lower); robbery without a weapon (60% lower); break and enter dwelling (58% lower); murder (56% lower) and robbery with a weapon not a firearm (53% lower). Three of the ten offence types analysed in this report were found to have recorded rates higher in 2015 than in 1990: sexual assault (131% higher); other sexual offences (102% higher) and assault (62% higher).


In the period since 1990, assault and sexual assault rates recorded significant long term upward trends whilst the other eight offences analysed in this report were trending down or stable. The 2015 recorded sexual assault rate was slightly below the highest in that series (occurring in 2012) and the rate since 2000 has recorded a significant uptrend. Apart from sexual assault and other sexual offences, the remaining eight offence types recorded significant downtrends in recorded rates since 2000. The three robbery and three property crime series all recorded falls of more than 65 per cent since 2000.

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