Attrition of sexual offence incidents through the Victorian criminal justice system: 2021 update

This research paper examines how many incidents of sexual offending progress through the justice system to be proven in court, including examining the most common points that incidents 'exit' the justice system. This research considers all incidents reported to police between July 2015 and June 2017, and explores factors related to the likelihood of progression through the system.

Key findings include:

  • One in seven sexual offence incidents reported to police was ultimately proven in court.
  • Attrition was highest during the police investigation stages of the justice system process, with police formally identifying an offender for half (48%) of the incidents reported and laying charges against half (52%) of those offenders they identified.
  • Ninety-two percent of incidents where charges were laid by police were finalised in court, and two-thirds of those incidents finalised in court had a proven outcome for at least one charge.
  • Rape incidents were the least likely to progress through the justice system, with 10% of rape incidents reported to police being proven in court, compared with 15% of indecent assault incidents.
  • One in five incidents resulted in the victim survivor withdrawing their complaint during the police investigation stage.
  • Incidents where the perpetrator was a stranger, that involved other, non-sexual offences, and that occurred in regional Victoria, were more likely to progress through the justice system.


Figure: Sexual offence incidents' attrition at each stage of the criminal justice system, 2015/16 – 2016/17

Attrition of sexual offences



Crime Statistics Agency, 2021
Crime Statistics Agency, 2021
Date of Publication


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