Author Steve Moffatt and Derek Goh
Published April 2013
Report Type Bureau Brief No. 84
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 ten major categories of property and violent crime for the period 1990 to 2012 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 2012, 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 23 annual rates for each of the ten 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 2012 with per capita rates in 1990, lower rates were found for: murder (51% lower), motor vehicle theft (73% lower), break and enter non-dwelling (65% lower), break and enter dwelling (45% lower), robbery with a weapon not a firearm (29% lower), robbery with a firearm (71% lower), and robbery without a weapon (26% lower). Three of the ten offence types analysed in this report were found to have recorded rates higher in 2012 than in 1990: assault (74% higher), sexual assault (130% higher) and ‘other’ sexual offences (77% higher). It is not clear whether the increases in these offences are the result of higher rates of offending or greater willingness to report them.


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 2012 recorded sexual assault rate was marginally above the previous highs of 2009 and 2010 and the rate since 2000 has recorded a significant uptrend. Apart from sexual assault, the remaining nine offence types have recorded significant downtrends in recorded rates since 2000. The three robbery and three property crime rates have all recorded falls of more than 55% since 2000.

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