Explanatory notes

Explanatory notes

The Crime Statistics Agency (CSA) presents statistics about the characteristics of crime recorded by Victoria Police in the Law Enforcement Assistance Program (LEAP). The following explanatory notes are designed to provide additional information about the data the CSA receives from Victoria Police, how it is processed and how to interpret the summary statistics. Use the following links to select the section you are interested in.. 

 

Data source – Victoria Police 

The crime statistics produced by the CSA are derived from administrative information recorded by Victoria Police and extracted from the LEAP database. Victoria Police provides this information to the CSA 18 days after the end of the reference period.

As the LEAP database is a live operational crime recording system and updated regularly, the CSA data reflects information in the database at the date and time of data extraction. This means that as additional quarters of data are released by the CSA, the data relating to previous periods may change as data are updated in LEAP, investigations progress and cases are completed by Victoria Police.

Previously published data should be considered superseded by subsequent releases of statistics.

Victoria Police recording standards

Victoria Police Crime Recording Standards state that a crime must be recorded as soon as the reporting member is satisfied that, on the balance of probability, a crime has occurred. The standards require reports to be completed and submitted prior to the end of a working shift. There are some reports that require immediate submission, for example the report of a stolen motor vehicle is phoned in directly and a live record becomes available in police systems immediately. There are circumstances where a report may not be submitted by the end of the shift, such as when Victoria Police may receive a report of a crime and there is insufficient detail immediately available to complete the report. In this situation, the report should then be submitted as soon as sufficient details are available. Other circumstances contributing to delays in recording may arise through quality assurance processes. If, for example, something about the record did not appear quite right and required clarification from the reporting member prior to it being entered into police systems, there may be delays with finalisation of the report. Offences that are reported and entered directly into police information systems are generally entered within 48 hours. A small portion of reports are not able to be entered directly into the system and require Victoria Police data entry staff to enter the details to Victoria Police systems. These reports can take a little longer to be entered due to this process. Victoria Police can provide further information about recording or operational practices.

Administrative data entry lag

Crime data are generally subject to revision over time as investigations progress and facts emerge. As a result, to capture a reasonably accurate and ‘settled’ picture of the crime records for a particular reference period the usual practice is to extract and process crime data some time after the close of the reference period. This practice ensures that the figures are relatively stable. The data extract run by Victoria Police for the CSA is taken 18 days after the end of the reference period to allow data to settle. Due to the delays that can emerge in the recording of crimes on the LEAP system, it is usual for the counts relating to the end of the reference period, particularly for the last month, to be revised upwards in subsequent data extracts as additional records are added. 

What this means is that the last month in a reference period is subject to further change. For example, in the 2019 financial year data extract, June 2019 figures will be different to statistics released for June 2019 when a later extract is taken in 2020. The CSA advises caution when analysing monthly trends based on the date that a crime was allegedly occurred as there can be an artificial decline in the last month of each reference period. 

It should be noted that family violence incidents are not susceptible to the same administrative delays as all family violence incidents are required to be recorded in LEAP databases by the end of the day on which they occurred. Victoria Police can provide further information about recording or operational practices.

Recording of Penalty Infringement Notices

Prior to COVID-19 Victoria Police had a small number of crime offences that could be dealt with by issuing a Penalty Infringement Notice (PIN), for example, a first-time adult offender who has stolen something from a retail store can receive a PIN as the outcome of their offending. Unlike other crime reporting which involves extensive records, PINs are recorded on a simple record that holds basic information only. There are additional limitations in the recording of PINs, such as the inability to record multiple PINs together: each PIN is recorded individually per person, per offence. This can skew criminal offence incident counts. For example, if there was a gathering at one location with 20 people committing offences for which they were issued with a PIN at the same time, each of those PINs would be recorded and therefore reported as 20 separate incidents as opposed to a single criminal incident because of the way PINs are separately recorded. Another example is that a single person may commit several offences at one time and place and be issued with more than one PIN for the same incident, but this would be recorded as more than one incident as PINs are recorded separately. 

The new offences introduced for breaches of the Chief Health Officer’s Directions (see COVID-19 impacts on recorded crime for more details) can be enforced through the issuing of a PIN. As PINs are recorded as separate incidents for each offence it is difficult to estimate with absolute certainty how many criminal events allegedly occurred. This issue affects Criminal incidents and Alleged offender incidents statistics produced by CSA, however the impact of this is small, in the range of one to two per cent of records. The CSA and Victoria Police will work together to identify a methodology to try and resolve this issue in future data releases. Victoria Police can provide further information about recording or operational practices.

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COVID-19 impacts on recorded crime data 

The first case of COVID-19 in Victoria was confirmed on 25 January 2020 and a state of emergency was declared in Victoria on 16 March. This provided the Chief Health Officer (CHO) with additional powers under the Public Health and Wellbeing Act 2008 (External link) to issue directions to restrict movement to help contain the spread of coronavirus. In late March restrictions were introduced to limit non-essential activities and movement in an effort to limit close personal contact and stop the spread of the virus. An on-the-spot COVID-19 penalty infringement notices individuals and businesses were introduced in response to breaches of the CHO’s Directions.

COVID-19 delays in administrative processing of crime records

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Victoria Police made significant changes to the way policing was delivered to the community. Victoria Police were forced to reshape many of the processes underpinning delivery of frontline services, and this included changes to the way crime reports were recorded. This had an impact on the time between submission of reports and the time it was recorded on police systems (see Victoria Police Recording Standards for more information). 

Victoria Police also had new offences to detect, report and record, including the new offences relating to breaches of the Chief Health Officer’s Directions. These breaches and the recording/reporting of them utilised a new methodology and a new recording system was implemented to support these responses. There has been an unprecedented volume of reports and data to be processed by Victoria Police data entry operators during this period. All of these factors resulted in a backlog of reports waiting to go onto the LEAP system that was larger than usual. This impact was felt from the end of March 2020 and Victoria Police were still experiencing delays – although to a lesser extent - in September 2020. Consequently, there are substantial differences visible in monthly data trends when comparing the date the offences allegedly occurred to the date they were created on LEAP. CSA recorded crime statistics are usually reported as relating to the reference period in which they were created on the LEAP system. CSA analysis of data from the year ending 30 June 2020 indicate a volume of offences that were created in June 2020 occurred months earlier. Data produced according to the month in which it was created on the LEAP system shows an upward trend from April to June 2020 whilst the backlog was being reduced. While the same data produced according to the date the offence allegedly occurred shows a downward trend during the same period. More crimes were recorded than occurred during this period due to the unusually high backlog being processed. Victoria Police can provide further information about recording or operational practices.

Family violence and potential unreported crime

At this stage, the impacts of COVID-19 on recorded family violence incidents and reports of family violence crime are unclear. For example, there may be a decrease in family violence incidents, yet this may be due to increased underreporting rather than a decrease in incidence of family incidents. Changes to household dynamics (parties are in the home more) may significantly impact an affected family member’s (AFMs) ability to report to police. Changes in reporting behaviour present a difficulty in identifying emerging trends or patterns of offending. It may be some time before reports relating to this period are reported to Victoria Police, as individual circumstances change. Victoria Police can provide further information about recording or operational practices.

Specific Victoria Police operations in response to COVID-19

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Victoria Police launched Operation Sentinel on 23 March 2020, Operation Shielding on 9 April 2020 and Operation Ribbon on 13 April 2020. Operation Sentinel involved PSOs working in and amongst the community and involved enforcing COVID-19 restrictions, preventing and detecting other crime and making arrests for theft, drug trafficking, possession of imitation firearms and weapons, outstanding warrants, and serious assault. Operation Ribbon focused specifically on active engagement with victim-survivors and known perpetrators of family violence and involved specialist detectives from the Family Violence Investigation Units across the state reaching out to Victorians considered to be at greater risk due to the COVID-19 lockdown. The recording of data related to specific police operations are often not easily identifiable in the LEAP databases. As a result, the CSA is unable to extract data collected and recorded in LEAP specifically in the conduct of these operations. Victoria Police can provide further information about recording or operational practices

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Scope and coverage 

The CSA recorded crime collection includes all offences that are reported to, and detected by, Victoria Police and recorded on the LEAP database. The scope and coverage of the data, however, is not representative of all crime that occurs in Victoria. Some crimes may not be recorded on LEAP, not be reported to police, or the responsibility for responding to certain offences may lie with another agency.

The following data are not available to the CSA and are not included in these statistics:

  • missing person details
  • police custody information
  • traffic infringements
  • regulatory activity not directly undertaken by Victoria Police, including infringement issuing and management
  • Victoria Police staff and human resource management information (including financial and asset information)
  • information about Victoria Police operations and taskforces
  • areas of Victoria managed by federal agencies, such as crown land and Melbourne airport, which are under the jurisdiction of the Australian Federal Police
  • investigations managed by Australian Government agencies, such as the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission
  • information related to prosecutions.

Data recorded on LEAP that were committed outside of Victoria are excluded from the official crime statistics.

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Comparisons between Victoria Police and Crime Statistics Agency statistics 

The following outlines differences in the scope and counting rules of recorded crime statistics produced by Victoria Police until 31 December 2014 and from 1 January 2015 by the CSA. Crime statistics previously produced by Victoria Police excluded the following Penalty Infringement Notices (PINs) which are now included in CSA counts:

  • 549MP - CONTRAVENE POLICE DIRECTION TO MOVE ON
  • 596A - DRUNK IN PUBLIC PLACE
  • 596B - DRUNK AND DISORDERLY IN PUBLIC PLACE
  • 599HC - BEHAVE IN DISORDERLY MANNER PUBLIC PLACE

Offence categories

The CSA developed an offence classification for statistical output purposes. This offence classification has been mapped to all raw offences recorded by Victoria Police. In comparison with the categories used historically by Victoria Police for statistical reporting, the CSA offence classification contains more detailed categories and reduced the number of offences mapped to Other, Missing and Unknown categories.

Due to these differences and additional changes to the calculation of rates, the CSA advises that data previously published by Victoria Police should not be compared with CSA recorded crime statistics.

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Comparisons between Victoria and other jurisdictions 

Law enforcement agencies in each jurisdiction/state are subject to different policing practices, policies and legislation. As a result, the data from other jurisdictions/states are not directly comparable with the official Victoria crime statistics released by the CSA. Information released by the National Centre for Crime and Justice Statistics at the Australian Bureau of Statistics may have data that has been deemed suitable for comparison across jurisdictions/states.

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Reference periods 

The reference period is the length of time that the statistics relate to. The CSA will produce three quarterly year-to-date statistical reports each year, and one annual statistical report for the financial year. Each report is based primarily on 12 months of data with different reference periods. This is outlined in the table below:

Report title Reference period Month of release
Annual report to 30 June 1 July to 30 June September
Year ending 30 September 1 October to 30 September December
Year ending 31 December 1 January to 31 December March
Year ending 31 March 1 April to 31 March June

Composition of quarterly data for statistical reporting

Quarterly crime statistics produced by the CSA are based on a rolling 12 month set of statistics that collate four quarters of data. As such, three quarters from the previous reference period are carried forward into the next 12 month period, with the addition of the most recent quarter. This means that changes that may occur within one quarter will be included in four different crime statistics releases.

The reference period is different depending on the period of time that the rolling 12 months of data cover. For example, data for the January to December reference period refers to the 12 month period beginning on the 1st of January through to the 31st of December of that year. In the March to April reference period that directly follows the January to December period, nine months of data from the previous reference period (April to December) is used with three months of new data (January to March) to compile a 12 month time period for analysis. This is outlined in the diagram below:

 

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Historical Data and Revisions 

The CSA is committed to continuous improvement and the production of high-quality statistics. As part of this commitment, the CSA constantly reviews its processes and data outputs. These changes will be applied across the time series, comparison with previously released CSA data are not recommended.

The ‘Latest Victorian crime data’, Latest crime by area, Harm caused by crime and Latest Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander data webpages display the most recently published statistics. Data released by CSA are correct at the time of extract from LEAP.
LEAP is a live database and information are continually updated as investigations progress and cases are completed by Victoria Police. As recorded crime data relating to previous years may change in subsequent data extracts CSA advises that data from the most recent release should be used. Previously published data should be considered superseded by subsequent releases of statistics.

Links to previous data are available from the ‘Historical crime data’ webpage are for reference only. 

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Counting methodology 

The information presented on the CSA website represents all criminal events recorded in the Police Law Enforcement Assistance Program (LEAP) database, where Victoria Police have recorded a crime prohibited by criminal law. These include crimes that have been reported to police as well as those identified by police. The CSA processes these data and presents this information as the following data populations:

  • Recorded offences
  • Criminal incidents
  • Alleged offender incidents (and unique alleged offenders on financial year data)
  • Victim reports (and unique victims on financial year data)
  • Family incidents.

Recorded offences

Recorded offences include any criminal act or omission by a person or organisation for which a penalty could be imposed by the Victorian legal system.

For the purposes of CSA statistics, an offence is counted and included in the data where it:

  • was reported to, or detected by, Victoria Police; and,
  • was first recorded in LEAP within the reference period.

The exception to this is those offences that are out of scope of the data collected by the CSA.

Depending on the type of offence committed and the outcomes of investigation, police may either initiate a court or non-court legal action against an offender. Non-court legal actions comprise legal actions such as formal cautions or warnings and the issuing of penalty notices, which do not require an appearance in court.

Offences that are recorded but remain unsolved at the date the data was extracted are included in the CSA dataset.

Reference period

Recorded offence data are compiled on the basis of the date that the offence was created on the LEAP database, rather than the date the offence was detected by, or reported to police. The create date may not be the date when the offence occurred, or the date when the offence came to the attention of police.

The date the record was created is used because it is the date most consistently recorded on LEAP and cannot be edited or updated. 

Criminal incidents

A recorded criminal incident is a criminal event that may include multiple offences, alleged offenders and/or victims that is recorded on the LEAP database on a single date and at one location.  

Any incidents where Victoria Police have deemed that no offence occurred are excluded from the criminal incident counts. The exception to this are incidents that have occurred and been recorded by police, but where a person later withdraws their complaint. As these still represent a criminal incident, they will continue to be included in the recorded crime statistics.

Where there were multiple offences or charges recorded within one criminal incident, a single offence or charge is assigned to represent the most serious crime committed for statistical purposes, known as the principal offence (see Principal variable calculations).

Reference period

Recorded criminal incident data are compiled on the basis of the date that the offence was created on the LEAP database, rather than the date the offence was detected by or reported to police. The record create date may differ from the date when the incident occurred, or the date when the incident came to the attention of police.

The date the offence was created is used because it is the date most consistently recorded on LEAP and cannot be edited or updated. The date an offence was reported and the date an offence was committed can both be updated and changed at any stage of an investigation.

Alleged offender incidents

An alleged offender incident is an incident involving one or more offences where a person, business or organisation has been linked as an alleged offender. An alleged offender incident represents one alleged offender but may involve multiple victims and offences. One incident may involve offences that occur over a period of time but if processed by Victoria Police as one incident it will have a count of one in the data presented in the published figures. Where there were multiple offences recorded within the one incident, the incident is assigned an offence category of the most serious offence in the incident for statistical purposes, known as the principal offence (see Principal variable calculations).

There may be multiple incidents within the reference period that involve the same individual, business or organisation as an alleged offender, where this occurs they will be counted for each incident.

Reference period

Alleged offender incidents are compiled on the basis of the date that an outcome was recorded on the LEAP database. The outcome date is used because it is the most consistent date recorded on LEAP and directly corresponds to the status of investigation relating to the incident.

Unique alleged offender

A unique alleged offender is a person who has been recorded by Victoria Police as an alleged offender within the reference period and is represented as a count of one in the data. A unique offender is counted once regardless of how many offences they may have committed within the same incident or how many times they were dealt with by police during the reference period. If there are multiple unique alleged offenders related to a criminal event, each unique offender will be counted once in the published figures.

Reference period

Unique alleged offender data are compiled on the basis of the date that an outcome was recorded on the LEAP database. The outcome date is used because it is the most consistent date recorded on LEAP and directly corresponds to the status of investigation relating to the incident.

Victim reports

A victim report is counted when an individual, business or organisation is recorded on LEAP as being a victim of one or more criminal offences. A victim report count involves only one victim but can involve multiple offences and alleged offenders. One report may involve offences that occur over a period of time but if processed by Victoria Police as one report it will have a count of one in the published figures. If there are multiple victims related to a criminal event, each will have their victim report counted once in the published figures.

An individual, business or organisation can be counted as a victim more than once within the reference period, if they have made more than one separate report to Victoria Police. From the year ending September 2019, data for person related victim reports will be presented separately from business or organisation related victim reports.

Where there were multiple offences recorded within the one victim report, the report is represented for statistical purposes by an assigned offence category of the most serious offence. This is known as the principal offence (see Principal variable calculations).

Reference period

Victim reports data are compiled on the basis of the date that the report was created on the LEAP database, rather than the date the incident was detected by, or reported to police. The record create date may not be the date when the offence occurred, or the date when the offence came to the attention of police.

The date the report was created is used because it is the date most consistently recorded on LEAP and cannot be edited or updated. 

Unique Victims

A unique victim an individual, business or organisation who has had one or more victim report recorded by Victoria Police within the reference period and is represented as a count of one in the data. A unique victim is counted once regardless of how many how many victim reports are recorded by police during the reference period. If there are multiple unique victims related to a criminal event, each unique victim will be counted once in the published figures.

Reference period

Unique victims data are compiled on the basis of the date that the report was created on the LEAP database, rather than the date the incident was detected by, or reported to police. The record create date may not be the date when the offence occurred, or the date when the offence came to the attention of police.

The date the report was created is used because it is the date most consistently recorded on LEAP and cannot be edited or updated. 

Family incidents

A family incident is an incident attended by Victoria Police where a Victoria Police Risk Assessment and Risk Management Report (also known as an L17 form) was completed. Victoria Police rolled out new L17 forms in July 2019, see Operational changes affecting recorded crime statistics for further details.

A family incident can involve one or more affected family members and/or one or more other parties. For statistical purposes, these are counted as one incident but may appear multiple times in demographic counts.

The overall increase in the number of recorded family incidents has in part been due to improved recording of incidents. Since 2011, initiatives such as the Family Violence Code of Practice have been put in place by Victoria Police to improve the recording of family incidents, the individuals involved and the offences committed. Due to the changes in these business practices, policies and legislation comparisons to data prior to 2012 are not advised. Accordingly, the CSA will release Family incident data and Recorded offence/Criminal incident data with a family violence flag as a five year time series until there are sufficient data to produce a ten year time series. For further data please send a request to info@crimestatistics.vic.gov.au (External link).

Demographic characteristics of affected family members and other parties

An ‘affected family member’ is the individual who is deemed to be affected by events occurring during a family incident. The other individual involved in a family incident is referred to as the ‘other party’. The other party could be a current partner, former partner or a family member.

Where more than one affected family member has been affected by one other party within a family incident, they will be counted for each involvement. For example, where a family incident involves three affected family members and one other party, the other party will be counted separately for each affected family member, making a count of three.  

Where more than one other party is involved with one affected family member, they will be counted for each involvement. For example, where a family incident involves one affected family member and two other parties, each other party will be counted separately, making a count of two. 

Where an individual is involved in multiple family incidents within the reference period they will be counted for each incident that they are involved in. 

Reference period

Family incidents data are compiled on the basis of the date that the incident was created on the LEAP database, rather than the date the incident was detected by, or reported to police. The record create date may differ from the date when the incident occurred, or the date when the incident came to the attention of police.

The date the record was created is used because it is the date most consistently recorded on LEAP and cannot be edited or updated. 

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Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander status 

Victoria Police captures the Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander status of people in their LEAP database using the Australian Bureau of Statistics Standard Indigenous Question (SIQ). The CSA obtains this information from Victoria Police to produce statistics for the state of Victoria. The SIQ responses that Victoria Police collect have historically contained many records with an ‘unknown’ response. Datasets that contain many unknown or missing values are deemed unfit for general use as the remaining data can potentially be misleading, potentially either over or understating the true numbers. 

In 2016, the CSA consulted with the Aboriginal Justice Caucus and Aboriginal community on options to improve Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Victoria Police recorded data quality and outputs. This resulted in the CSA implementing the ‘most frequent’ counting rule in the year ending 30 June 2016 data release for Alleged offender incidents, see the most frequent counting rule more details. For more information about this process please see the Consultation paper: Improving recorded crime statistics for Victoria’s Aboriginal community and the Outcomes of recent public consultation: proposed methods to improve Victorian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander recorded crimes statistics

Despite the implementation of the ‘most frequent’ counting rule the SIQ data quality had been declining over time as the number of records with unknown values had been increasing. The CSA withdrew the Aboriginal Alleged Offender data from public release from March 2019.

Changes to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander data

The CSA is committed to working with community to support improved Aboriginal justice outcomes through the availability of statistics. As part of this commitment the CSA has been working with Victoria Police to improve the quality of the SIQ data. Victoria Police identified a system error that was increasing the number of unknowns in the dataset. In March 2020 Victoria Police implemented a system fix that has resulted in improved data provided to the CSA. However, the improved data still contained a large proportion of unknown values and requires the application of the most frequent counting rule.

The CSA has also reviewed the ‘most frequent’ counting rule and found that a small modification to the application of this rule resulted in substantial data quality improvements, including further reducing unknown values in the dataset. It was found that the CSA ‘most frequent’ counting rule code did not preference meaningful responses (‘yes’ or ‘no’) where ‘unknown’ is the most frequent response for an individual. The CSA has revised the application of the counting rule to preference ‘yes’ or ‘no’ values over ‘unknown’ values in the dataset and this resulted in substantial quality improvements in the dataset and across all CSA person-based statistical populations (Alleged offender incidents, Victim reports and Family Incidents – Affected family members and Other parties).  

The CSA has consulted with stakeholders and the community about the changes we have made and the resulting new data outputs. For more information about this process please see the Community consultation paper: Aboriginal crime data needs and Outcomes of recent public consultation: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander crime data needs. The release of increased Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander data supports the Victorian Aboriginal Justice Agreement Phase 4 (AJF4) outcome ‘Increased Aboriginal community ownership of and access to data’ and Dhelk Dja: Safe Our Way - Strong Culture, Strong Peoples, Strong Families (Aboriginal 10 Year Family Violence Agreement) priority five: Aboriginal-led and informed innovation, data and research. 

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander status data will now be available on the website from 24 September 2020, this includes the re-release of Alleged offender statistics and for the first time we are releasing Family incident statistics. 

Most frequent counting rule

Under the most frequent counting rule, a person has a ‘yes’, ‘no’ or ‘unknown’ response to the SIQ, the most frequently appearing meaningful response (‘yes’ or ‘no’) is taken as correct. If the person only has one meaningful response, then that response stands across all records. If a person appears in the dataset two different times with a ‘yes’ and a ‘no’ in the records, a ‘yes’ response is taken over a ‘no’ response, Figures 1 and 2 illustrate how this counting rule operates in two different scenarios. 

A most frequent response may be less susceptible to data entry error, as a person with a number of appearances would require multiple incorrect responses in the dataset to be incorrectly assigned. The more entries a person has in the dataset, the greater the likelihood that their data is correct. The only exception to this would be where a person wishes to change the way they identify and respond to the question over time. This would not be recognised until the majority of a person’s entries in the database reflected their current status. This rule is also dependent upon the SIQ being asked and recorded on each occasion.

Figure 1. Illustrative example of the application of a ‘most frequent’ rule from the Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander status variable

Figure 2. Illustrative example of the application of a ‘most frequent’ rule from the Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander status

 

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Harm caused by crime 

The measure of harm caused by crime was developed by the CSA during 2019, for more information see Harm caused by crime - year ending March 2020 and Harm caused by crime page. Therefore, the categorisation of crime classifications can be assumed to be of the time. That is, some crimes are more prevalent or top-of-mind at the time of the public perceptions research. New crime classification categories may be added to the indexes as a result of changes to criminal Acts. For example, the Crimes Amendment (Sexual Offences) Act 2016 came into effect in 2017, expanding on existing offences and introducing new categories.

The Harm caused by crime measure was developed to be applied to data relating to person victim reports data only. These data are provided to the CSA by Victoria Police. See Victim reports for more information about the counting methodology.

The harm caused by crime measure will be available to the public biannually, on a calendar (in the March data release) and financial year (in the September data release) basis.

Categorical presentation of harm caused by crime

The CSA offence classification is used to group offences into categories that are representative of similar criminal behaviours. The Harm caused by crime measure excludes offence types that by definition are solely against a business, organisation or the state. The Harm caused by crime measure includes 47 crime types that are applicable to person victims. These crime types are then assigned to one of the three harm categories (high, medium and low) that were the product of research undertaken by the CSA, and reflect the views of Victorians about the harm perceived to impact a victim of a specific type of crime.

The figure below displays each harm category, its key elements and the offence types included in each category. 

Category Key elements Crime Offence Groups included in category
High harm
  • Loss of life as the ultimate high harm.  
  • Life-long/severe physical, mental and/or emotional harms experienced simultaneously after offence. 
  • Specific crimes against children, for example, incest and non-contact sexual offences against children. 
  • Keywords or phrases: Life-changing, long-term, high severity 
  • A11 Murder 
  • A12 Attempted murder  
  • A13 Accessory or conspiracy to murder 
  • A14 Manslaughter 
  • A15 Driving causing death 
  • A21 Serious assault 
  • A22 Assault police, emergency services or other authorised officer 
  • A31 Rape 
  • A32 Indecent assault 
  • A33 Incest 
  • A34 Sexual offences against children 
  • A41 Abduction 
  • A43 Slavery and sexual servitude 
  • A51 Aggravated robbery 
  • A62 Extortion 
  • B31 Aggravated burglary
Medium harm
  • Crime types that are malicious, intentional or are threats against another person.  
  • Physical, mental and/or emotional harms that are more likely to be long-term but may be more easily overcome than those in the high harm category. 
  • A23 Common assault 
  • A39 Other sexual offences 
  • A42 False imprisonment 
  • A52 Non-aggravated robbery 
  • A61 Blackmail 
  • A71 Stalking 
  • A73 Threatening behaviour 
  • A81 Dangerous driving 
  • A82 Neglect or ill treatment of people 
  • A83 Throw or discharge object endangering people 
  • B11 Cause damage by fire 
  • B41 Motor vehicle theft 
Low harm
  • Financial harm and some mental/emotional harm may be experienced. No physical harm. Typically, not long-lasting harms.  
  • Keywords or phrases: Inconvenience, frustration, replaceable, insurance, property-based crimes. 
  • A72 Harassment and private nuisance 
  • A89 Other dangerous or negligent acts 
  • B21 Criminal damage 
  • B22 Graffiti 
  • B29 Other property damage offences 
  • B32 Non-aggravated burglary 
  • B42 Steal from a motor vehicle 
  • B44 Theft of a bicycle 
  • B49 Other theft 
  • B53 Obtain benefit by deception 
  • B55 Deceptive business practices 
  • B56 Professional malpractice and misrepresentation 
  • B59 Other deception offences 
  • D21 Riot and affray 
  • D23 Offensive conduct 
  • D24 Offensive language 
  • D31 Privacy offences 
  • E13 Resist or hinder offences 
  • F92 Public health and safety offences 

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Principal variable calculations 

Some variables in the recorded crime dataset may legitimately have more than one item recorded against them. To represent this data in a summary form, the multiple responses are ordered using hierarchical classifications, which allow the CSA to select a principal response to represent each record.

Principal offence

Offence categories presented in the criminal incidents, alleged offender incidents and victim report tables refer to the principal offence representing the incident. Where there is only a single offence attached to a unique incident, that offence is the principal offence by default. Where multiple offences are recorded within the same incident, a principal offence is assigned using the CSA Offence Index. 

For criminal incidents, the CSA will represent the incident by displaying the most serious charge laid. If no charges were laid, the most serious offence recorded will be presented.

CSA Offence Index

The CSA Offence Index is a tool by which the seriousness of offence types can be ranked against each other in order to calculate the most serious offence (principal offence). The CSA Offence Index was largely adapted from the Australian Bureau of Statistics National Offence Index (cat. no. 1234.0.55.001). The diagram below describes examples of how the principal offence is determined based on seriousness.

Example Incident A: Where an incident involves one offence of Murder, one offence of Stalking and one offence of Breach of bail, the principal offence would be presented as Murder.
Example Incident B: Where an incident involves one offence of Serious assault and one offence of Offensive language, the principal offence would be presented as Serious assault.
Example Incident C: Where an incident involves only one offence of Graffiti, then the principal offence would be presented as Graffiti by default.

Location type

For offences where more than one location type is recorded, the location type is selected based on the following hierarchy:

  1. Residential location
  2. Community location
  3. Other location

For more information on the location type index, please see the location type classification.

Relationship of victim to alleged offender

For victim reports where more than one relationship type is recorded, the relationship type is selected based on the following hierarchy:

  1. Current partner
  2. Former partner
  3. Family member
  4. Non family member
  5. Not related/associated
  6. Cannot be determined

For more information on the relationship type index, please see the relationship type classification.

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Regional statistics 

Recorded crime statistics for offences, criminal incidents, alleged offender incidents, victim reports and family incidents are presented by Police Region and LGA. The CSA also presents offences and criminal incidents data by postcode and suburb. For more information on the geographic locations used in the CSA data please see the geographic location hierarchy.

Improved location information 

The CSA has analysed the recording of geographic data in LEAP and has found that there are some inconsistencies which impact the overall quality of location-specific information. The CSA has used a combination of different location variables received from Victoria Police to improve the quality of location data, which better represents where a specific incident occurred. This work has improved the quality of location-based information to inform the public about where crime occurs across the state, and has been implemented for offences and recorded incidents data.

These changes are visible in the data published for Recorded offences and Criminal incidents in the year ending June 2017 release onwards. 

From the year ending September 2019 data the CSA updated the ABS geography used to reflect the changes applied after the 2019 Census. The files used are as follows:

  • 1270.0.55.001 – Australian Statistical Geography Standard (ASGS): Volume 1 – Main Structure and Greater Capital City Statistical Areas
  • 1270.0.55.001 – Australian Statistical Geography Standard (ASGS): Volume 3 – Non ABS Structures.

This improved location information process has been applied to all CSA data populations, including Alleged offender incidents, Victim reports and Family incidents, from the year ending September 2019.  

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Justice and Immigration Institutional Facilities 

For the purposes of statistical reporting, a number of facilities are now counted separately from the LGA, postcode or locality in which they are located. These include correctional facilities, youth justice facilities and immigration detention centres, and are categorised as ‘Justice institution or immigration facility’. These facilities are counted separately for recorded offences and criminal incidents from the year ending June 2017 release onwards and from the year ending September 2019 this was across all data populations.

The CSA identifies justice institutions or immigration facilities by using a combination of street address, location type and location description variables. If there is uncertainty about where an incident occurs (due to deficiencies with address and location recoding), the CSA will continue to show the offence in the crime counts for the area (at LGA, postcode or suburb/town level).

The following are included in the ‘Justice Institution or immigration facility’ category:

  • Barwon Prison (inc. Grevilla Youth Justice Precinct)
  • Malmsbury Youth Justice Centre
  • Beechworth Correctional Centre
  • Maribyrnong Immigration Detention Centre
  • Dame Phyllis Frost Centre
  • Marngoneet Correctional Centre (inc. the Kareenga Annexe)
  • Dhurringile Prison
  • Melbourne Assessment Prison
  • Fulham Correctional Centre
  • Melbourne Youth Justice Centre (Parkville)
  • Hopkins Correctional Centre (inc. Corrella Place)
  • Metropolitan Remand Centre
  • Judy Lazarus Transition Centre
  • Port Phillip Prison
  • Langi Kal Prison (inc. Emu Creek)
  • Ravenhall Correctional Centre
  • Loddon Prison (including the Middleton Annexe)
  • Tarrengower Prison

 

The Grevillea Youth Justice Precinct was gazetted from 17 November 2016 to 23 May 2017 and shared the same street address as Barwon Prison. Criminal incidents recorded by Victoria Police that occurred at the Precinct during its operation are unable to be separately identified, and are included in the counts for Barwon Prison.

Incidents that occur at facilities such as Corella Place or Emu Creek are included in this category, as the CSA cannot effectively distinguish between these locations and the adjacent prison using the location recorded by Victoria Police. 

The following locations have been excluded from this category:

  • Melbourne Custody Centre – This centre cannot be distinguished from the courts in the data, and is not deemed a justice institution that permanently holds prisoners.  However, convicted or unconvicted persons may be detained temporarily in these facilities.
  • Thomas Embling Hospital – This hospital is a partially secure facility that treats patients from within the criminal justice system and the mental health system, however not all patients within this facility are serving correctional sentences.
  • Wulgunggo Ngalu Learning Place –this is a transitional facility for offenders on Community Corrections orders and is used to provide services such as employment, education and life skills.
  • Police cells – as police cells are managed by Victoria Police and do not permanently hold convicted offenders, these are not considered justice institutions or immigration facilities. However, convicted or unconvicted persons may be detained for a short period of time in these facilities.

Any incidents that occur at these locations will still be included in localised crime counts.
 

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Rates per 100,000 population 

Rates per 100,000 population in Victoria are calculated for offences, criminal incidents, alleged offender incidents, victim reports and family incidents.

Rates per 100,000 population are derived using the incident, report or offence count for the reference period and the most recent Estimated Resident Population (ERP) data.

Rate calculations

Rates are calculated using the following formulae:

  • Offence rate = (Offence count/ERP count) *100,000
  • Criminal incident rate = (Criminal incident count/ERP count) *100,000
  • Alleged offender rate = (Alleged offender incident count/ERP count for persons 10 years and over^) *100,000
  • LGA alleged offender rate = (Alleged offender incident count/ERP count^^) *100,000
  • Victimisation rate = (Person victim report count/ERP count) *100,000
  • Family incident rate = (Family incident count/ERP count) *100,000

From the year ending September 2019 the Alleged offender rates have been revised to include the population that reflects the age of criminal responsibility, 10 years old and over. As LGA population figures by age are not available for the most current year LGA rates are calculated using the total LGA population (includes persons less than 10 years of age). The new rate calculations have been back cast across all years on the website from this release onwards. 

From the year ending September 2019 the Victimisation rate has been revised to include only person victims. Prior to this time rates were calculated using person and organisation/business victims. Person only rates are now calculated as there is no organisation/business population available to use as the denominator for rate calculations. The new rate calculations have been back cast across all years on the website from this release onwards. 

Due to these rate calculation changes, the CSA advises that data released from September 2019 should not be compared with previously released CSA recorded crime statistics.

^The ERP figures for persons aged 10 years and over are used as this is representative of the age of criminal responsibility. 

^^The ERP figures used to calculate LGA rates do not account for the age of criminal liability (includes persons less than 10 years of age).

Source data for rate calculations

ERPs for both Victoria and Local Government Areas are based on populations produced by the Australian Bureau of Statistics. For years prior to the current reference period, the ERP used to calculate offence rates is the ABS ERP. ABS ERP data comes from two publications:

  • ERP by age and sex are collected from 3101.0 - Australian Demographic Statistics, Sept 2019 (Released at 11:30AM (Canberra time) 19 March 2020 – downloaded 23 April 2020).
  • ERP by LGA are collected from 3218.0 - Regional Population Growth, Australia 2018-19 (Released at 11:30AM (Canberra time) 25 March 2020 - downloaded 23 April 2020).

ERPs for data in the current reference period are based on official state government population projections produced by Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) via ‘Victoria in Future (External link)’ (VIF) program. The VIF figures for 2020 have not yet been released due to the need to account for COVID-19 changes in migration patterns. In consultation with DELWP, the CSA has reduced the 2019 VIF population estimates for 2020 (6,729,626) to make an adjustment to the interstate and overseas migration that was impacted as a result of COVID restrictions, see calculated figure in table below.

Victorian population figures used for year ending June 2020 publication

ABS - Australian Demographic Statistics Victoria in future

Jul 2015 -  Jun 2016

Jul 2016 -  Jun 2017 Jul 2017 -  Jun 2018 Jul 2018 -  Jun 2019 Jul 2019 -  Jun 2020
6,173,172 6,321,606 6,462,019 6,596,039 6,706,086

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24 month trend test – Kendall’s tau 

The trend test presented in the data tables highlights movement in data that is of a consistent and continuing nature over the previous 24 months. The CSA uses the Kendall's Rank Order Correlation statistical test (or Kendall's tau) to determine whether a series is trending upwards or downwards over the specified time period. The procedure that the CSA uses is to conduct the Kendall’s Rank Order Correlation on the monthly total number of offences, the monthly total number of criminal incidents for each principal offence, and LGA over the previous 24 months. 

From the year ending June 2017 release onwards, the CSA also applies a threshold that involves the satisfaction of one of two criteria, in order for the trend test to be conducted. If a category fails both sets of criteria, then the significance test will not be conducted. 

  1. Less than 30 incidents/offences in any month – This approximates to one incident/offence per day and ensures that there is sufficient data of a sufficient quality before it is analysed. 
  2. Percentage Proportion threshold (<0.1% of all recorded incidents/offences) – To ensure that the data for a particular category contributes a meaningful proportion of the overall before it is analysed.

This two-pronged threshold, means that Offence categories and LGA’s will only be excluded if the number of incidents/offences recorded are less than 30 in any given month and the proportion of overall criminal incidents/offences is less than 0.1%. Note that in very few circumstances, the significance test will show a significant trend, even when the yearly percentage change is very low or in the opposite direction. In other cases, the test will be nonsignificant, even when the yearly percentage change is very high. This can occur in cases where there are seasonal or non-linear variations in the data, or if extreme spikes in the data are present. Kendall’s Rank Order Correlation test is not robust against these variations and is only sensitive to generally increasing and decreasing trends.

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Confidentialisation 

The CSA has an obligation to protect the privacy of individuals and has implemented Data confidentiality policy and procedures to ensure people are unlikely to be identified through data released by the Agency. Confidentialising data involves removing or altering information or collapsing detail (through application of statistical disclosure controls) to mitigate the risk that a person or organisation may be identified in the data (either directly or indirectly). 

Alleged offender incidents, Victim reports and Family incidents data contain person-based datasets and include demographic information. Therefore, these datasets are subject to confidentialisation to ensure the anonymity of individuals is protected where numbers are small and there is a reasonable likelihood that a person may be identified from the data published. The CSA also confidentialises sensitive crime offence types (e.g. homicide and sexual offences). For these data the CSA confidentialises cells in a table that range from 1 to 3. This is denoted in the tables by the value “≤ 3”.

For the purpose of calculating row and column totals, each cell from 1 to 3 is assigned a value of 2, regardless of the true number of that cell. This methodology allows for totals to be calculated in tables with small cells, but this does mean that totals for certain variables may not be the same across tables within a publication or set of data cubes. This process is applied prior to the release of statistical data by the CSA.

To release more data at the LGA level the CSA has also applied a specific LGA confidentialisation rule for the person-based datasets, Alleged offender incidents, Victim reports and Family incidents. Data will not be displayed for demographic LGA tables that contain more than a third of data with a value of less than 4 (including zero). For tables that include principal offence types data will be excluded where counts are ≤ 3.
 

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Legislative changes affecting recorded crime statistics 

COVID-19 response

In March 2020 a state of emergency was enacted in Victoria and this resulted in the Chief Health Officer (CHO) receiving additional powers under the Public Health and Wellbeing Act 2008 (section 203 and 199) to issue directions to restrict movement to help contain the spread of coronavirus. In late March restrictions were introduced to limit non-essential activities and movement in an effort to limit close personal contact and stop the spread of the virus. An on-the-spot COVID-19 penalty infringement notices individuals and businesses were introduced in response to breaches of the CHO’s Directions. These fines are recorded in LEAP under two new codes:

  • 837AP REFUS/FAIL COMPLY DIR/REQ AUTH OFF (IND)
  • 837AQ REFUS/FAIL COMPLY DIR/REQ AUTH OFF (B/C).

As a result of the introduction of these codes there has been a subsequent increase in the number of offences recorded against the category F92 Public health and safety offences.

Sexual Offences

In July 2017 the Crimes Amendment (Sexual Offences) Act 2016 came into effect. This act created new offences and expanded existing child pornography offences, and also introduced the new broader term ‘child abuse material’. The act also introduced the new offence of ‘sexual activity directed at another person’ which covers a broader range of intimidating behaviour occurring in public or private, expanding on the existing wilful and obscene exposure offences (currently recorded under D23 Offensive conduct).

Breach of bail conditions

Amendments to the Bail Act 1977 which were introduced in December 2013 inserted the following sections into the act:

  • S30A Offence to contravene certain conduct conditions
  • S30B Offence to commit indictable offence whilst on bail.

These amendments resulted in the introduction of two new offence codes on LEAP. There has subsequently been an increase in the number of offences recorded against the category Breach of bail conditions.

For further information, refer to the Spotlight: Breaches of orders – The Impact of Legislative Changes on the website.

Breach of family violence orders

The Justice Legislation Amendment (Family Violence and Other Matters) Act 2012 inserted the following sections into the Family Violence Protection Act 2008:

  • S37A Contravention of notice intending to cause harm or fear for safety
  • S123A Contravention of order intending to cause harm or fear for safety
  • S125A Persistent contravention of notices and orders.

Sections 37A and 123A make it an indictable offence to contravene a Family Violence Safety Notice or Family Violence Intervention Order where there was intention to cause harm or fear of safety to the person protected by the notice or order.

Section 125A makes it an indictable offence to persistently contravene Family Violence Safety Notices or Family Violence Intervention Orders.

The above amendments came into effect in April 2013 and resulted in the introduction of three new offence codes on LEAP. There has been a subsequent increase in the number of offences recorded against the category Breach of family violence orders.

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Operational changes affecting recorded crime statistics 

Specific Victoria Police operations in response to COVID-19

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Victoria Police launched Operation Sentinel on 23 March 2020, Operation Shielding on 9 April 2020 and Operation Ribbon on 13 April 2020. Operation Sentinel involved PSOs working in and amongst the community and involved enforcing COVID-19 restrictions, preventing and detecting other crime and making arrests for theft, drug trafficking, possession of imitation firearms and weapons, outstanding warrants, and serious assault. Operation Ribbon focused specifically on active engagement with victim-survivors and known perpetrators of family violence and involved specialist detectives from the Family Violence Investigation Units across the state reaching out to Victorians considered to be at greater risk due to the COVID-19 lockdown. The recording of data related to specific police operations are often not easily identifiable in the LEAP databases. As a result, the CSA is unable to extract data collected and recorded in LEAP specifically in the conduct of these operations. Victoria Police can provide further information about recording or operational practices.

Introduction of Police Assistance Line (PAL) and Online Reporting (OLR)

Victoria Police introduced the Police Assistance Line (PAL) and Online Reporting Service (OLR) service for non-urgent crimes state-wide on 1 July 2019 (a trial took place in a limited areas from 28 February 2019). This method of contacting police has been introduced to capture the following crime types:

  • Theft of Motor Vehicle
  • Theft from Motor Vehicle
  • Theft (Bicycle)
  • Theft (Other)
  • Residential Burglary
  • Burglary (Other)
  • Property damage.

PAL and OLR can assist the public by taking non-urgent crime reports, where an urgent crime is reported these matters are referred onto police immediately. The information taken at the time of these report may not reflect the data captured in the LEAP database as this reflects the offence type recorded following Victoria Police processing. For more information about the introduction of this new method of reporting crimes please contact Victoria Police directly. For LEAP data that originated from PAL or OLR please see the relevant table on the Recorded Offence webpage. 

Victoria Police introduction of revised L17 Form

In response to recommendations from the Royal Commission into Family Violence Victoria Police launched a revised Family Violence Report (L17 form) in three Police Regions. The revised L17 form was rolled out state-wide on the 22 July 2019.

The new form collects information about presence of alcohol or drugs, number of children present and a number of other items in a different way to the original L17 form. With the state-wide rollout of the new form and the associated changes, from the year ending September 2019, comparison with previously released CSA data is not recommended.

Victoria Police recording practice at Youth Justice Institutions

The CSA has noted that Victoria Police recording practices show variability in Youth Justice Precincts of Malmsbury and Parkville. The CSA has updated its methodology that identifies these incidents that occur at these locations to capture this variation. For more detail please refer to the section on Justice and Immigration Institutional Facilities.

Recording of ‘Fail to stop’ offences

From 13 July 2015, Victoria police changed their operational procedures in relation to ‘Fail to stop’ offences. These changes have led to these offences now being recorded in LEAP and included in the extract of recorded crime data provided to the CSA. This previously resulted in an increase in the number of offences recorded against the following Road Safety Act (1986) offences: 

  • 749AUC Fail to stop vehicle on direction
  • 749XM Fail to stop vehicle on request.

As a result, there has been an increase in the CSA offence category ‘E13 Resist or hinder officer’ since October 2015. For the current reference period there were only offences recorded for ‘749AUC Fail to stop vehicle on direction’.

Commit indictable offence whilst on bail

In November 2014, Victoria Police changed their operational procedures for the recording of some breach of bail charges, affecting the way these offences are captured for recorded crime statistics. This change has impacted the number of offences recorded for ‘527Z Commit indictable offence whilst on bail’, and as a result the number of offences recorded in this category may be understated. 

This change has not had any impact on the recording of other breach of bail offences in LEAP. The CSA is assessing the impact of this change for future releases. 

For further information, refer to the Spotlight: Breaches of orders – The Impact of Legislative Changes on the website.
 

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