The Crime Statistics Agency (CSA) continues to improve and extend the range of information that is available about recorded crime in Victoria. The CSA currently produces statistical information about crimes occurring across the state, including counts and rates of:
- recorded offences;
- alleged offender incidents and unique offenders;
- victim reports and unique victims; and
- family incidents.
From 14 December 2017 the CSA will also produce a new, additional measure of crime: incident-based recorded crime statistics. The development of incident-based statistics was a commitment made in the government’s inaugural Community Safety Statement released in December 2016.
What is an incident?
A criminal incident is a count of a criminal event. It may include one or multiple offences, one or more alleged offenders and/or victims. The incident is recorded by Victoria Police on their crime recording database on a single date and as occurring at one location.
How is an incident derived?
CSA identifies offences recorded at the same time and as occurring at the same geographic location by Victoria Police. These are grouped together to form an incident.
As a criminal incident can involve one or many offence types or charges, the CSA assigns a single offence or charge to represent the most serious crime committed within an incident. This is achieved by selecting the charge associated with the incident, or offence if no charges have been laid, which has the highest ranking on the Australian Bureau of Statistics National Offence Index. The National Offence Index is a ranking of offences by seriousness.
Figure 1 – Illustration of selection of a principal offence to represent an incident
The police outcome associated with the most serious offence or charge is used to represent the overall investigation status of the incident (for example, whether there has been an arrest).
How do incident statistics relate to the other measures of recorded crime the CSA produces?
The new incident count is a new, additional view of crime which adds to our existing suite of crime statistics. The data previously produced by the CSA - including the granular offence information - will still be produced. The incident is a summary of one or more offences occurring at the same place and recorded at the same time, so these two views of crime in Victoria are highly complementary measures.
There can be one or more offenders associated with a recorded criminal incident. There may also be no victims associated with a criminal incident, one victim or more than one victim.
A criminal incident may have arisen in the context of family violence and CSA will produce statistics showing this relationship in the new data.
Why add another measure of crime?
Our new measure of criminal incidents is designed to more closely represent the criminal event as it is experienced. When crime is generally referred to or spoken about, it is more often the criminal event that is described. That is, a single criminal event that happens in a particular time and place. When these events are counted in the current crime statistics, they appear as counts of offences. A single criminal event can involve one or many offences, so offence counts don’t reflect how crime occurs in the community.
Offence counts are also more likely to be influenced by changes in legislation and policy, making it difficult to assess trends over time. Incidents reflect events that occur within the community and produce a more reliable measure over time.
The new incident measure also adds to the information available to the public about crime that occurs, increasing access to information for the community and policy-makers alike.
How will incident-based statistics be available?
The CSA will be reporting two crime rates for the 14 December 2017 crime statistics release: the new incident rate (number of criminal incidents per 100,000 estimated residents in Victoria) and the existing offence rate (number of recorded offences per 100,000 estimated residents in Victoria). CSA believe the incident rate is the better headline measure of crime, and will transition to using only this figure in the future. The offence rate information will still be available for use.
The recorded crime statistics produced by the CSA will include significance testing results for incident figures for the different crime categories (i.e. incidents with a principal offence of assault and related offences, or theft) so you can see which categories have had statistically significant movements in the previous 2 years. This test is calculated the same way it has previously been for the offence based data.
How do I find our more?
More detailed information will be included in the release of the new statistics on 14 December 2017.
A public consultation paper was also released in August 2017 which explains the incident measure and includes explanatory scenarios, which is available on the CSA website: www.crimestatistics.vic.gov.au/about-the-data/consultation-paper-csa-incident-based-collection.
If you have any further questions about the new incident measure, feel get in touch with the CSA team via firstname.lastname@example.org or 03 8684 1808.