Despite the recent upward trend in drive-by shootings, the the number of incidents involving a firearm in New South Wales declined by 48% between 1995 and 2011.
Aim: To investigate trends over time, spatial patterns, and characteristics of criminal offences involving firearms.
Method: This study used data from the NSW Police Force Computerised Operational Policing System and the Australian Bureau of Statistics. Characteristics and spatial patterns of offences involving firearms were described and trends across 1995 to 2011 were analysed using Kendall’s rank-order correlation test.
Results: The number of incidents involving a firearm declined (48% between 1995 and 2011). Robbery involving a firearm decreased (51%, 1995-2011) and unlawfully discharge firearm decreased (24%, 1995-2011), although discharge firearm into premises increased (144%, 1995-2011). The rate of shoot with intent incidents per 100,000 population in Sydney was greater than the rest of NSW. The average age of male offenders was 24.2 years for robbery, 26.6 years for murder and attempted murder, 30.9 years for assault, and 36.5 years for harassment involving firearms in 2011. Homicide, assault, abduction and kidnapping, and harassment involving firearms occurred mostly in residences in 2011. Robbery involving firearms occurred mostly in business/commercial premises. The rate of firearm theft was lower in Sydney than the rest of NSW in 2011 (0.8 and 6.4 per 100,000 population, respectively). Firearms were most frequently stolen from residences (79%, 2011). Rifles were the most stolen firearm (66%, 2011).
Conclusion: Despite the recent upward trend in drive-by shootings, the long-term trend in criminal offences involving firearms is down.