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Date: 2016 August
Author: Olivia Hamilton

Understanding crime in a society involves the examination of a range of factors. While crime statistics are useful tools in building up our knowledge of crime, for example providing insight into ‘hotspots’ for certain types of crimes, or revealing trends over time, they need to be understood in context. Section 1 outlines some of the factors that impact on our understanding of crime, including the social and political context in which crimes occur, an unwillingness to report some crimes, the impact of policing practices and public policy, racial profiling or over-policing of some groups, and localised factors such as high visitor populations compared to residential populations. 

Section 2 presents an overview of the available data for different crime categories, with a specific focus on understanding crime in Greater Western Sydney. More detailed information, including for example the number of incidents that were alcohol-related, or the gender of victims and perpetrators, is available on BOCSAR’s comprehensive crime mapping tool. Section 3 discusses what can be learnt from crime victimisation surveys, which may include information that is not captured in BOCSAR’s crime statistics due to limitations of data collection (for example, for LGBTIQ individuals) or reporting / recording of incidents (for example, individuals who have experienced crime victimisation but not reported the incident to the police). Imprisonment rates in NSW are increasing, even while many crimes are trending down; Section 4 of the paper provides a snapshot of this increase.Section 2 presents an overview of the available data for different crime categories, with a specific focus on understanding crime in Greater Western Sydney. More detailed information, including for example the number of incidents that were alcohol-related, or the gender of victims and perpetrators, is available on BOCSAR’s comprehensive crime mapping tool. Section 3 discusses what can be learnt from crime victimisation surveys, which may include information that is not captured in BOCSAR’s crime statistics due to limitations of data collection (for example, for LGBTIQ individuals) or reporting / recording of incidents (for example, individuals who have experienced crime victimisation but not reported the incident to the police). Imprisonment rates in NSW are increasing, even while many crimes are trending down; Section 4 of the paper provides a snapshot of this increase.

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