Author Steve Moffatt and Derek Goh
Published April 2012
Report Type Bureau Brief No. 78
Subject Assault; Crime statistics; Theft / Property crime
Keywords trends, crime statistics, property crime, violent crime

Download this publication



The aim of this paper is to analyse the trends in the rates of annual recorded incidents of 10 major categories of property and violent crime for the period 1990 to 2011 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 2011, 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 22 annual rates for each of the 10 major offence categories.


Some categories of crime in NSW are now at the lowest recorded levels they have been for over 20 years. Comparing per capita rates of crime in 2011 with per capita rates in 1990, lower rates were found for: murder (47% lower), motor vehicle theft (71% lower), break and enter non-dwelling (63% lower), break and enter dwelling (46% lower), robbery with a weapon not a firearm (23% lower), robbery with a firearm (70% lower), and robbery without a weapon (20% lower). The falls in these categories of crime are countered by increases in recorded rates of assault (80% higher), sexual assault (116% higher) and ‘other’ sexual offences (83% higher) in 2011 compared with 1990.


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 2011 recorded sexual assault rate was marginally below that recorded in 2009 and 2010. Assault has remained stable since 2000 and is now showing signs of a decline with a weakly significant downtrend since 2000. Property crimes have shown the biggest declines since 1990.

Download this publication