Crime Increases in Perspective: The Regional Dispersion of Crime in NSW, 2001

1 Jan 2002

When an increase in crime at the State level is publicly reported, a large proportion of the general community become fearful, and may alter their lifestyles to avoid what they see as their increased vulnerability to becoming included in victimisation statistics. However, the reported change in aggregate risk may have little or nothing to do with the individual risk of victimisation for the majority of citizens. Significant increases in four major categories of crime in NSW were reported in the annual crime statistics for 2001. This paper examines the geographical dispersion of these crime increases using a simple crime dispersion index developed by the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research. The Offence Dispersion Index calculations show that the 7.6 per cent increase in the number of recorded incidents of assault between 2000 and 2001 was brought about by increases in one-quarter of the Local Government Areas in NSW. In contrast, the 34.1 per cent increase in robbery with a firearm was caused by an increase in less than one-tenth of the State. We conclude that the reporting of official crime statistics is enhanced by incorporating a measure of geographical dispersion and show that, despite a large percentage increase in robbery with a firearm at the State level, the majority of NSW residents did not experience a significant increase in the risk of that offence.

Publication Details
Publication Place: 
Sydney, NSW
Published year only: 
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