Author Derek Goh and Stephanie Ramsey
Published March 2021
Report Type Bureau Brief No. BB152
Subject Assault; Theft / Property crime
Keywords Trends, crime statistics, property crime, violent crime



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 2020 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 2020, 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 31 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 2020 with per capita rates in 1990, lower rates were found for: robbery with a firearm (92% lower); break and enter non-dwelling (86% lower); motor vehicle theft (85% lower); break and enter dwelling (76% lower); robbery without a weapon (73% lower); robbery with a weapon not a firearm (60% lower) and murder (57% lower). Three of the ten offence types analysed in this report were found to have recorded rates higher in 2020 than in 1990: sexual assault (213% higher); other sexual offences (126% higher) and assault (55% higher).


In the period since 1990, sexual assault and other sexual offences rates recorded long term upward trends whilst the other eight offences analysed in this report were trending down or stable. The 2020 recorded sexual assault rate was the highest recorded since 1990. The three robbery and three property crime series all recorded falls of 80 per cent or more since 2000.