Simon says crime on the way down

By 28 February, 2013 18

Attorney-General Simon Corbell is breaking out the bubbly over the latest crime statistics:

New figures showing a continued decrease across a range of crimes in the ACT, including public order offences such as drunk and disorderly behaviour being down 22% were welcomed today by Attorney-General, Simon Corbell.

The December 2012 Criminal Justice Statistical Profile, tabled in the Legislative Assembly today, also showed reductions in property crime with property damage down 18%, burglary/break and enter down 14% and robbery down 11%.

“Six months on from the release of the ACT Property Crime Reduction Strategy 2012-15, these results are a clear reflection of the Government’s collaborative steps towards making Canberra a safer place to live,” Mr Corbell said.

“A central component to this strategy is the multi-pronged approach delivered by ACT Policing to reduce volume crime. This includes intelligence led targeting of known offenders, raising community awareness and proactively patrolling public places to prevent property crime.

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18 Responses to Simon says crime on the way down
#1
bundah9:18 am, 28 Feb 13

That’s fantastic Simon you must be so pleased,so at this rate we’ll be able to get rid of all the judges?

#2
Ben_Dover9:27 am, 28 Feb 13

Recorded crime may be down, is the actual incidence of crime down?

I doubt it.

#3
gazket10:32 am, 28 Feb 13

4 more years Labour fudging figures, Canberrans seem to be happy with that.

#4
devils_advocate10:35 am, 28 Feb 13

Ben_Dover said :

Recorded crime may be down, is the actual incidence of crime down?

I doubt it.

*sigh*

I haven’t seen any suggestion why, from one time period to the next, detection and enforcement rates would vary. In the absence of clear evidence (which we probably will never have); it’s probably fair to assume that detection and enforcement rates are fairly constant.

In other words, in the absence of clear evidence to the contrary, it’s probably reasonable to assume that a decrease in detected crime is a result of a decrease in actual crime.

In a similar way that an increased number of drug busts by customs is generally thought to point to an increase in the amount of drugs being imported.

#5
HardBallGets12:56 pm, 28 Feb 13

devils_advocate said :

Ben_Dover said :

Recorded crime may be down, is the actual incidence of crime down?

I doubt it.

*sigh*

I haven’t seen any suggestion why, from one time period to the next, detection and enforcement rates would vary. In the absence of clear evidence (which we probably will never have); it’s probably fair to assume that detection and enforcement rates are fairly constant.

In other words, in the absence of clear evidence to the contrary, it’s probably reasonable to assume that a decrease in detected crime is a result of a decrease in actual crime.

In a similar way that an increased number of drug busts by customs is generally thought to point to an increase in the amount of drugs being imported.

An increased number of drug busts by customs can point to (a) an increase in the amount of drugs being imported, or (b) a change in the activities of customs.

In this same way, a decrease in reported crime rates can point to (a) a decrease in actual crime, (b) a decrease in the public’s reporting of crime, or (c) a change in the activities of police.

For example, as a good citizen I have phoned police to provide information about a number of incidents over the years. On occasions (and I acknowledge this is only one person’s experience) I have been fobbed off, and it has been difficult or impossible to get a commitment from police to attend or investigate.

Going by my experience I would suggest that it’s likely that ‘reported crime’ is a fair bit higher than ‘recorded crime’.

#6
A_Cog1:17 pm, 28 Feb 13

This is a sentence from the media release: “The December 2012 Criminal Justice Statistical Profile, tabled in the Legislative Assembly today, also showed reductions in property crime with property damage down 18%, burglary/break and enter down 14% and robbery down 11%.”

Well, in the suburb where I live, 2012 crime rates have doubled, tripled or quadrupled since 2008/2009.
And to compare raw numbers for 2011 to 2012, robbery went up 50%, burglary went up 25%, theft went up 350% (yes, 350%, that’s not a typo), and property damage went up 15%.

But hey, I’m cherry-picking. There were no murders, so good work Simes. Job done!

#7
Alderney1:19 pm, 28 Feb 13

Isn’t it amazing what happens to the figures when you lock the police up in the station and don’t let them out to detect crime. That and not answer the phone.

Stats never lie and the pollies do love a bit of feel good media.

#8
damien haas1:54 pm, 28 Feb 13

The burglary figure is a little misleading.

What is the clearup rate? How many burglaries that occurred resulted in property being returned to owners and offenders sent to the pokie?

#9
PM2:25 pm, 28 Feb 13

What are the stats on bashings with sacks of doorknobs?

#10
IrishPete2:57 pm, 28 Feb 13

The only source in Australia for reporting rate is here http://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/Lookup/4530.0Main+Features12011-12?OpenDocument

I will leave it to others to trawl through the past publications to see if reporting rates in Canberra have increased, decreased or stayed the same, though my first glance suggests you probably won’t be able to find those statistics due to the small numbers in the survey in Canberra.

Of course, even if you report a crime it doesn’t mean the police will record it – they may choose to do other things with it, one being to not record it, another being to classify it as something other than you think it was (attempted break-ins easily can be reclassifieds as criminal damage).

It requires fairly intensive scientific study to know what is really going on with crime, reporting and recording rates.

Drug-related crime is the worst example to quote, because it is the most sensitive to police (and other agencies’) activity. Also a lot of traffic crime is only detected and recorded as a result of police activity – shifting priorities results in huge fluctuations. Even the policve acknowledge this by often citing the percentage of breath tests that were positive, rather than just the overall number of positive tests.

Although more accurate, crime surveys can only tap into a small range of crimes (which is why the crime survey linked only does so), and have their own deficiencies e.g. they don’t usually ask or report on how many times you’ve been assaulted in the last year, just whether you have been assaulted at least once, so you can’t say “Crime sruveys show there were 1 million assaults and police statistics show 10,000″. Given how common repeat assault is, this is a major deficiency. The British Crime Survey is much more sophisticated, but still doesn’t give a complete picture.

IP

#11
dungfungus3:42 pm, 28 Feb 13

These figures used to say “reported” crime. Why have they left out the operative word?

#12
Jim Jones3:55 pm, 28 Feb 13

dungfungus said :

These figures used to say “reported” crime. Why have they left out the operative word?

It’s obviously some sort of left-wing conspiracy.

#13
dungfungus4:47 pm, 28 Feb 13

Jim Jones said :

dungfungus said :

These figures used to say “reported” crime. Why have they left out the operative word?

It’s obviously some sort of left-wing conspiracy.

Does this mean I should put on my tin foil hat?

#14
Deref5:30 pm, 28 Feb 13

dungfungus said :

Jim Jones said :

dungfungus said :

These figures used to say “reported” crime. Why have they left out the operative word?

It’s obviously some sort of left-wing conspiracy.

Does this mean I should put on my tin foil hat?

Definitely. It’s the only thing that’ll protect you from the eebil socialistic greenie labor conspiracy. I can do you a good deal on some very attractive models.

#15
devils_advocate5:42 pm, 28 Feb 13

HardBallGets said :

devils_advocate said :

Ben_Dover said :

Recorded crime may be down, is the actual incidence of crime down?

I doubt it.

*sigh*

I haven’t seen any suggestion why, from one time period to the next, detection and enforcement rates would vary. In the absence of clear evidence (which we probably will never have); it’s probably fair to assume that detection and enforcement rates are fairly constant.

In other words, in the absence of clear evidence to the contrary, it’s probably reasonable to assume that a decrease in detected crime is a result of a decrease in actual crime.

In a similar way that an increased number of drug busts by customs is generally thought to point to an increase in the amount of drugs being imported.

An increased number of drug busts by customs can point to (a) an increase in the amount of drugs being imported, or (b) a change in the activities of customs.

In this same way, a decrease in reported crime rates can point to (a) a decrease in actual crime, (b) a decrease in the public’s reporting of crime, or (c) a change in the activities of police.

For example, as a good citizen I have phoned police to provide information about a number of incidents over the years. On occasions (and I acknowledge this is only one person’s experience) I have been fobbed off, and it has been difficult or impossible to get a commitment from police to attend or investigate.

Going by my experience I would suggest that it’s likely that ‘reported crime’ is a fair bit higher than ‘recorded crime’.

I agree, but I don’t think there’s a reason for (for example) the discrepancy between reported and recorded to vary across time periods in any systematic way.

I mean sure, if the police budget was varied significantly in two different time periods, then it would probably not be sensible reporting/detection and enforcement rates across the two time periods, unless you controlled for that variable. But unless someone is claiming that the budget was slashed and as a result less crimes were detected/recorded/prosecuted, (or some other similar, systematic change in police activities that renders illegitimate comparisons between time periods) the null hypothesis would, in my view, be that a reduction in detected crimes is probably due to a reduction in the number of actual crimes.

#16
IrishPete6:15 pm, 28 Feb 13

devils_advocate said :

I agree, but I don’t think there’s a reason for (for example) the discrepancy between reported and recorded to vary across time periods in any systematic way.

I mean sure, if the police budget was varied significantly in two different time periods, then it would probably not be sensible reporting/detection and enforcement rates across the two time periods, unless you controlled for that variable. But unless someone is claiming that the budget was slashed and as a result less crimes were detected/recorded/prosecuted, (or some other similar, systematic change in police activities that renders illegitimate comparisons between time periods) the null hypothesis would, in my view, be that a reduction in detected crimes is probably due to a reduction in the number of actual crimes.

Criminology 101. This null hypothesis has been disproven many times. It doesn’t have to be anything to do with deliberate police behaviour. Increases in insurance premiums resulting in fewer people insured can result in fewer people reporting property crimes. Publicity about good/poor treatent of victims of violent or sexual offences can result in them being more or less likely to go to police. Availability of victims compensation or counselling can also have an impact.

To clarify there are three measures of crime – actual, reported and recorded. Police tell us about recorded. Surveys tell us about actual and reported. Comparing the three numbers is near-impossible in Australia.

I’m sorry, but your gut feeling doesn’t measure up against a whole field of research.

IP

#17
Special G6:29 pm, 28 Feb 13

New figures showing a continued decrease across a range of crimes in the ACT, including public order offences such as drunk and disorderly behaviour being down 22% were welcomed today by Attorney-General, Simon Corbell.

Interesting that the article opens with this. Given that being drunk and disorderly is not an offence.

It should be but it’s not.

#18
Jethro6:38 pm, 28 Feb 13

A_Cog said :

This is a sentence from the media release: “The December 2012 Criminal Justice Statistical Profile, tabled in the Legislative Assembly today, also showed reductions in property crime with property damage down 18%, burglary/break and enter down 14% and robbery down 11%.”

While heavy sack beatings are up a shocking 900%.

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