Young but not so restless: trends in the age-specific rate of offending

2 Dec 2014

Aim: To describe and discuss trends in age-specific rates of offending for property crime, robbery and serious assault.

Method: Descriptive statistics and graphical displays.

Results: The number of people apprehended by police for property crime and robbery has fallen sharply since around 2001 and is much lower now than it was 15 years ago. The decline has been most pronounced among adolescent and young adult offenders (aged 15-20 years). The rate at which people in this age group were apprehended for robbery first rose and fell between 1995 and 2004 and then rose and fell (again) between 2005 and 2012. The rate at which 21-24 year olds were apprehended for robbery declined between 1999 and 2012. A similar but less pronounced pattern is seen for 25-29 year olds. The rate at which people were apprehended for serious assault remained fairly stable for all age groups up until around 2003. Thereafter the rate rose rapidly for 15-20 year olds, peaking at around 2008 and then falling from 2009 to 2012. The rate at which older age groups have been apprehended by police for assault remained fairly steady since 1999 but over the last three years has slowly declined.

Conclusion: It is impossible to be certain but there is good reason to expect a continuation of the downward trend in rates of property crime and robbery in NSW. The future course of trends in serious assault will likely depend on whether the current fall in alcohol misuse by young people continues.

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