Spotlight: Assault and Related Offences

1. Introduction and scope

This spotlight presents data on assault and related offences. Assault and related offences are defined as any offence recorded in LEAP that has been coded to the CSA offence classification category “A20 Assault and related offences”, and includes the following offence groups (and subgroups where applicable in parentheses):

  • A21 Serious assault (A211 FV Serious assault; A212 Non-FV Serious assault)

  • A22 Assault police, emergency services or other authorised officer
  • A23 Common assault (A231 FV Common assault; A232 Non-FV Common assault)

Definitions for these offence groups can be found in the CSA offence classification located in the ‘About the data’ section at www.crimestatistics.vic.gov.au (External link).

Data are presented for recorded criminal incidents, recorded offences, alleged offender incidents and victim reports based on crime recorded by Victoria Police. Data for this spotlight has been extracted from the Victoria Police Law Enforcement Assistance Program (LEAP) on 18 January 2018. The data covers a five year period from January 2013 to December 2017.

The primary measure of crime featured in this spotlight is the criminal incident count, a measure developed by the Crime Statistics Agency (CSA) to better reflect how crime data are commonly used in discussion and reporting. A recorded criminal incident is a criminal event that may include one or more offences, alleged offenders and/or victims, that is recorded on the LEAP database, on a single date and at one location.

Recorded criminal incidents differ from recorded offences in that the latter represents every instance that a violation of criminal legislation has been committed and recorded by Victoria Police in the LEAP database. In contrast, recorded criminal incidents refer to the event in which one or more offences have been committed at the same time and location. In order to best represent the type of offence associated with a criminal incident involving multiple offences and subsequent changes, the most serious offence is determined, known as the principal offence. For criminal incidents, the most serious charge laid is selected as principal offence. If no charges were laid, the most serious offence recorded is the principal offence.

The count of recorded offences will generally be greater than the count of recorded criminal incidents. However, for some offence types, there are cases where the criminal incident count may be greater. These cases may occur when charges are laid on alleged offenders at a later stage, after further investigation of the crime by Victoria Police. The criminal incident count therefore reflects the charges that were laid upon further investigation, whereas the count of recorded offences reflects only those offences that were deemed to have been committed upon initial investigation of the event.

For more information on the criminal incident measure, please see the public consultation paper (External link) released on the CSA website. Further information on principal variable calculations and counting rules for incidents, offences, alleged offenders and victim reports can be found in the Explanatory Notes (External link). 

For the purposes of this spotlight Assault and related offences will be referred to as ‘Assault’ and recorded criminal incidents with a principal offence of Assault and related offences will be referred to as ‘criminal incidents of assault’, or ‘assault incidents’.

2. Recorded criminal incidents

The information outlined in this section represents all criminal incidents recorded in the Victoria Police Law Enforcement Assistance Program (LEAP), 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. For more information about counting rules, please refer to the Explanatory Notes (External link).

 

Jan - Dec 2013

Jan - Dec 2014

Jan - Dec 2015

Jan - Dec 2016

Jan - Dec 2017

1 year

% change

Number of criminal incidents with a principal offence of assault

33,466

  33,123

34,177

38,683

38,951

0.7%

Criminal incident rate per 100,000 population

583.7

567.4

574.7

637.3

632.6

-0.7%

In the year ending 31 December 2017, there were 38,951 recorded criminal incidents with a principal offence of assault. Incidents with a principle offence of Common assault comprised 52.9% of all assault incidents (n=20,595), followed by Serious assault (42.1%, n=16,389) and Assault police, emergency services or other authorised officer (5.0%, n=1,967). Whilst the number of assault incidents increased by 268 from the previous year, the population increase was greater, resulting in a decrease in the assault incident rate of 0.7%. A Kendall’s tau significance test conducted on the number of incidents over the 24 months ending December 2017 did not show any significant increasing or decreasing trends. For more information about Kendall’s tau rules, please refer to the Explanatory Notes (External link).

2.1 Trends over time

Assault incidents recorded by offence subgroup, January 2013 to December 2017

Over the past five years, the number of criminal incidents with a principal offence of assault has increased by 16.4% (n=5,485), with the largest annual increase occurring in the year ending December 2016, when it increased by 13.2%. This increase over the past five years occurred in criminal incidents with a principal offence of FV Common assault, increasing 49.2% since 2013.

Changes to the number of FV assault incidents recorded may in part be affected by increases in reporting of family violence following the establishment in 2015 of the Royal Commission into Family Violence. In relation to Victoria Police operational changes, the increase may also have partly been due to improved recording of family violence incidents by police members. Since 2011, initiatives such as the Family Code of Practice have been put in place by Victoria Police to improve the recording of family incidents, including the individuals involved and the offences committed.

The majority of the increase in the year ending December 2017 occurred in incidents with a principal offence of Non-family violence (FV) Common assault (n=1,154). These incidents also increased over the five year period by 32.9% (n=2,181). Incidents with a principal offence of Assault police, emergency services and other authorised officer also increased in the same five year period (n=379, 23.9%). In contrast, incidents with a principal offence of Serious assault (FV and Non-FV) have decreased over the last five years (down 0.3%, n=26, and 9.7%, n=934, respectively).

Legislative changes during the five years to December 2017 may have influenced the number of assault incidents recorded. In November 2014, the Summary Offences Act 1966 was amended to include additional offences relating to assaulting, resisting, obstructing, hindering or delaying emergency workers on duty (Section 51.2), and the Crimes Act 1958 was amended to include additional offences relating to assaulting, resisting, obstructing, hindering or delaying emergency workers on duty (Section 31.1).

2.2 Charge status of recorded criminal incidents of assault

Investigation status

Jan - Dec 2013

Jan - Dec 2014

Jan - Dec 2015

Jan - Dec 2016

Jan - Dec 2017

Charges laid

19,072

20,074

20,911

23,659

20,697

Charges not laid

10,875

9,961

9,894

10,512

11,814

Unsolved

3,519

3,088

3,372

4,512

6,440

Total

33,466

33,123

34,177

38,683

38,951

 

Of the 38,951 criminal incidents of assault, 16.5% remained unsolved as at 18 January 2018 when the data was extracted. Approximately half (53.1%) of all incidents resulted in charges being laid, whilst another 30.3% did not result in charges being laid. Charges were most likely to be laid for incidents of Assault police, emergency services or other authorised officer, with 83.9% (n=1,650) of those incidents resulting in a charge.

Across the assault offence subgroups, FV assault incidents were more likely to result in a charge being laid compared to Non-FV assault incidents in the year ending December 2017, with 49.2% of FV Common assault (36.9% of Non-FV Common assault) and 69.6% of FV Serious assault (53.4% of Non-FV Serious assault) resulting in charges being laid.

2.3 Criminal incidents of assault with other associated offence types

While a principal offence is selected to best represent the most serious offence in a criminal incident, there may be other offences which also occur during the criminal incident. There were 29.0% (n=11,289) of criminal incidents with only an assault offence type in the year ending December 2017; the other 71.0% of assault incidents (n=27,662) were recorded with other offence types associated with the criminal incident. Of the other offences that were associated with incidents of assault, the subdivision Property damage was the most frequently reported offence type, present in 8.1% (n=3,139) of the criminal incidents of assault, followed by Breaches of orders (8.0%, n=3,125), and Stalking, harassment and threatening behaviour (6.4%, n=2,491). 

2.4 Criminal incidents of assault across Victoria

In the year ending December 2017, the Local Government Areas (LGAs) with the highest number of recorded assault incidents were Melbourne (n=2,681), Casey (n=1,952), Greater Dandenong (n=1,658), Greater Geelong (n=1,542) and Hume (n=1,526). The LGAs across Victoria with the highest assault incident rate per 100,000 population were Latrobe (1,853.4), Melbourne (1,838.6), Ararat (1,552.7), Horsham (1,330.3) and Swan Hill (1,290.4).

Assault incident rate per 100,000 by Local Government Area, January to December 2017



2.5 Location of criminal incidents of assault

Of the 38,951 assault incidents recorded in the year ending 31 December 2017, 57.6% took place at a residential location (of which 89.1% were private dwellings). A further 28.2 % took place in a Community location (most commonly street/footpath, 52.7%), and 13.1% at an Other location.

3. Offences recorded

 

Jan - Dec 2013

Jan - Dec 2014

Jan - Dec 2015

Jan - Dec 2016

Jan - Dec 2017

1 year

% change

Number of assault offences

37,630

37,416

38,879

43,319

43,409

0.2%

Offence rate per 100,000 population

656.3

640.9

653.8

713.7

705.0

-1.2%

 

In the year ending December 2017, there were 43,409 assault offences recorded; more than the 38,951 criminal incidents recorded. The number of recorded offences remained at similar levels to the previous year ending December 2016, with an increase of 0.2%. A Kendall’s tau significance test conducted on the number of offences over the 24 months ending December 2017 did not show any significant increasing or decreasing trends.

Common assault offences comprised 55.7% of all assault offences (n=24,198), followed by Serious assault (37.5%, n=16,283) and Assault police, emergency services or other authorised officer (6.7%, n=2,928). Of note, the number of Serious assault offences in the year ending December 2017 was lower than the number of criminal incidents of Serious assault (n=16,389). This difference reflects the difference in counting methodology between offences and criminal incidents; where the offence counts reflect the offence as first recorded by Victoria Police, whilst criminal incident counts also reflect charges that may be laid by Victoria Police upon further investigation of the criminal event.

4. Alleged offender incidents

 

Jan - Dec 2013

Jan - Dec 2014

Jan - Dec 2015

Jan - Dec 2016

Jan - Dec 2017

1 year

% change

Alleged offender incidents

27,145

27,659

28,367

29,952

32,082

7.1%

Offender incident rate per 100,000 population

541.3

541.9

545.8

565.1

595.5

5.4%

 

In the year ending 31 December 2017, there were 32,082 recorded alleged offender incidents with a principal offence of assault. This was an increase of 7.1% from the year ending 31 December 2016. The alleged offender incident rate per 100,000 population is 595.5, a 5.4% increase compared to the same period in the previous year.

Of the total number of alleged offender incidents, 79.0% (n=25,330) involved a male offender while 21.0% (n=6,744) involved a female offender. The remaining incidents involved an offender with an unknown sex. Of the 25,330 male offenders, the largest age group was 25–29 years, followed by the 20–24 years and 30–34 years. Together these three age groups accounted for 41.9% of all male offenders. Of the 6,744 female offenders, the largest age group was 15–19 years, followed by 20–24 years and 25–29 years, which together accounted for 42.4% of all female offenders.

Alleged offender incidents by sex and age, January to December 2017

As at 18 January 2018, almost two-thirds (65.0%, n=20,861) of alleged offender incidents had resulted in an arrest or summons, and 33.5% (n=10,749) were recorded with an outcome of Intent to summons. As Intent to summons is an interim status, this proportion tends to shift over time as ongoing investigations may result in an arrest or summons at a later stage.

5. Victim reports

 

Jan - Dec 2013

Jan - Dec 2014

Jan - Dec 2015

Jan - Dec 2016

Jan - Dec 2017

1 year

% change

Victim reports

36,101

35,731

36,995

41,577

41,717

0.3%

Victim rate (for person victims) per 100,000 population

629.6

612.0

622.1

685.0

677.5

-1.1%

 

In the year ending 31 December 2017, there were 41,717 recorded victim reports with a principal offence of assault. The number of assault victim reports was similar to the year ending 31 December 2016. Of the 41,717 victim reports, approximately half (50.2%) were male and a further 49.1% were female. The remaining victim reports involved a victim with an unknown sex.

The highest age group for the 20,470 female victims was 25–29 years (n=2,831) followed by 20–24 years (n=2,723). Female victims aged between 20 to 39 years comprised approximately half (51.1%) of all female victims. Of the 20,937 male victims, the highest age group was 25–29 years (n=2,708), followed by 20–24 years (n=2,503). Proportionally, male victims aged between 15 and 34 years comprised 46.3% of all male victim reports (n=9,699).

Victim reports by sex and age, January to December 2017

 

Author
Crime Statistics Agency, 2018
Publisher
Crime Statistics Agency, 2018
Date of Publication

 

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