Aim: To compare crime trends in New South Wales (NSW), Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the USA, England and Wales, and Scandinavia.
Method: Trend data were extracted from publications and online data repositories. Population counts were used to calculate rates from crime counts as required. Violent and property crime series were presented for the period 1995 to 2014 (where requisite data were available).
Results: Rates of recorded property crime have fallen almost continuously since 2003 in all jurisdictions considered in this paper; property crime has fallen since the mid-1990s or earlier in New Zealand, Canada, and the USA, and since 2001 in NSW. Violent crime rates have also trended downwards in most jurisdictions, but over a shorter period than for property crime, for example since 2000 in Canada, 2007 in NSW, and 2010 in New Zealand. Available data suggest that these falls followed longer-term increases in both property and violent crime. The interpretation of these data is complicated by variation around these general trends (e.g. homicide vs. sexual assault) and methodological variation within and between series.
Conclusion: Long-term crime data have major limitations but nonetheless show rates of recorded violent and property crime are in widespread decline. These falls began later in NSW than in most jurisdictions. The violent crime decline is a more recent phenomenon and has been less pronounced and less consistent across jurisdictions than the fall in property crime; violent crime began to fall earlier in NSW than in New Zealand.