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CJB127

Author Clare Ringland and Joanne Baker
Published March 2009
Report Type Crime and Justice Bulletin No. 127
Subject Assault; Policing
Keywords assault, violence, trends, police, reporting

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Summary

Aim

This bulletin investigates whether the increase in the assault rate was due to a genuine increase in violence or an increase in the amount and/or type of violent behaviour coming to police attention.

Abstract

The rate of police-recorded assault more than doubled in NSW between 1990 and 2007. This bulletin investigates whether the increase was due to a genuine increase in violence or an increase in the amount and/or type of violent behaviour coming to police attention. Trends and patterns in police-recorded assault from 1995 to 2007 are supplemented with crime victim survey data, hospitalisations data and a selection of narratives for assault incidents. Over the period, rates of assault increased for both males and females and for all age groups. Increases occurred in both aggravated and common assault, assault with a weapon and without, in all statistical divisions and premise types. These trends in police-recorded assault, supported by increases in hospitalisation and victim survey data, suggest a real increase in violence. However, less serious police-recorded assaults (e.g. common assault and assault without a weapon) have increased at a greater rate than more serious assaults, and more recent assault narratives included a greater proportion of assaults with less serious actions. In addition, the increase in hospitalisations for assault was small in comparison to increases in police-recorded assault and crime survey victimisation rates. Thus, it is likely that the increase in assault was due not only to an increase in violence, but also to an increase in public awareness of assault and the increased willingness of victims and third parties to report, and/or police willingness to record, incidents as assault.

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