Australian crime: facts & figures 2012

17 May 2013

While the volume and rate of individual crime types has fluctuated over the past few years, overall, crime in Australia has been decreasing. This report uses information compiled from a broad range of sources to create an accurate and holistic picture of crime and criminal justice issues in Australia. Within this volume are the patterns and trends relating to specific crimes, victims, offenders, the location of criminal acts, and the operation and cost of the criminal justice system (including the police, courts and prisons). The purpose of this publication is to provide government and justice agencies, the media and the Australian public with accurate, easy to access crime statistics in a single, centralised location.

In the previous edition of Australian Crime: Facts & Figures, a new chapter was introduced with an aim to provide data around a crime and justice issue of importance for that year. This year, that chapter focuses on the relationship between alcohol and other drugs, and offending (see Chapter 8). While information on the involvement of alcohol and other drugs in physical assaults is presented, the statistics also highlight the serious drug and alcohol problem affecting prisoners in Australia.


  • The number of recorded victims of sexual assault and robbery has decreased. Robbery decreased by seven percent from 14,582 in 2009–10 to 13,617 in 2010–11, while there was a three percent decrease in victims of sexual assault with 17,238 victims, 519 fewer victims than the previous year. However, in 2010–11, there were 67 more recorded victims of kidnapping and abduction. There were 14 more recorded victims of homicide than in 2009–10 however the rate remained at historically low levels at 1.2 per 100,000.
  • In line with previous years, there were significantly more victims of property crime compared with violent crime in 2010–11. Further, the number of victims of property crime increased across all categories. Specifically, unlawful entry with intent and motor vehicle theft both increased by one percent, while other theft increased by seven percent.
  • In 2010–11, $78,840 was spent on prisons in Australia compared with $7,300 for community-based corrections. In terms of ratios of dollars spent, for every $1 spent per offender per day in community corrections, $11 was spent on offenders in prison.
  • Offending rates were highest for both males and females aged 15–19 years. Within this age category, most violent offending peaked around 17 years of age. However, the rate of sexual assault offending by 15 year olds (64 per 100,000) was greater than that of 17 year olds (56 per 100,000).
  • Detainees (ie alleged offenders) who tested positive to heroin, alcohol and methamphetamine were more likely to attribute their violent criminal offending to their use of the drug than detainees who tested positive to cannabis, cocaine or ecstasy.
  • Until recently, property crime occurred most frequently in domestic settings. However, since 2009, the most common location for property crime has been retail locations.
  • External fraud was the most common category of fraud committed against the Commonwealth in 2009-10. Specifically, there were 702,941 incidents of external fraud, costing an average $705 per incident.
  • Non-custodial monetary orders were the most common sentences handed down in Magistrates’ courts in 2010–11. Conversely, the proportion of defendants found guilty in the higher courts who received a custodial sentence was far greater than those who received a non-custodial sentence.
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