The Law and Order Referendum
and other related issues in New Zealand
This Report; A Statistical Profile of Crime in Australia is broken up into six Adobe Acrobat pdf files, and is an exhaustive breakdown of crime data up to 1996. The last is an International Comparison and is interesting reading.
Here is some data for 1997 in html form for all states, as part of a report on crime in Western Australia. Data is from the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
Crime in Australia, a State by State Comparison. These statistics are from from the Australian Ministry of Justice, using data sourced from the Australian Institute of Criminology and the Australian Bureau of Statistics. This data is for 1999, but also shows changes across the States over the periods 1995-99 and 1998-99.
This data is particularly interesting in view of the fact that Northern Territories introduced a Three Strikes Law in March 1997. A similar law that covers only burglary offences was put into place in Western Australia in November 1996. What is most noteworthy is the large reduction in the rates of crime, although it must be noted that they started from very high levels compared with other states, and are still high, although are dropping rapidly.
For instance, look at the second and third graphs here on the homicide data showing that the homicide rate has dropped a startling 65% in the years 1995-99, 44% of that in the 98-99 period. Interestingly the homicide rate for WA also dropped by 14% in the five year period, making it runner up to NT in the effectiveness stakes, even though their Three Strikes law covers burglary only.
The Assault Rates show similar but less marked trends, 19.1% and 14.6% rate drops over the 95-99 and 98-99 periods respectively. Assault rates actually rose for WA over the same 5 year period by 20%, possibly due to a displacement effect.
Most interesting are the Sexual Assault rates which also show similar trends with rate drops between those for homicide and assault for NT, at 35.8% and 22.9% for the 95-99 and 98-99 periods respectively.
WA was runner up with drops of 18.8% and 10.4% over those periods, which ties in with current research indicating that many burglars if not stopped go on to do rapes and sexual assaults. It appears that even WA's limited burglary only Three Strikes Law is having a very desirable side effect.
Burglary rates are dropping in both NT and WA as expected with rate drops of 23.7 and 17.3% for 95-99 and 98-99 for NT and 20.3% and 7.9% for WA. Interestingly enough Motor Vehicle theft dropped most for WA, 33.5% for WA as opposed to 23% for NT over the 95-99 period. Unarmed Robbery dropped most for NT as expected , dropping by 32% over the 95-99 period, although WA appears to have made some gains (a 12% drop) over the 98-99 period, however they have had a 50% rise in the 95-99 period, possibly also a displacement effect.
Armed Robbery is the only crime to go against the trends with a rate rise 95-99 of 47% although this was a nationwide trend, no state exhibited a decrease over that period. Many did over the 98-99 period however, with WA leading the charge.
Now here is the most fascinating statistic of the lot, particularly given that all the politically correct moaners have been going on about how "racist" the NT law in particular is...the rates of Indigenous Imprisonment compared with the overall rate and that of non-indigenous imprisonment. It is the second lowest after Tasmania. And the rate at which indigenous people are imprisoned is closest to the overall rate if you look at the first graph. Given that NT has the highest numbers of indigenous people, this is....very interesting...
It appears that their Three Strikes/Mandatory sentencing may actually be less racist in its effect, being as it is based on behaviour and previous track record rather than colour of the defendant and the views of the judge. It would appear that the effect of Mandatory Sentencing/ Three Strikes has been to force judges to imprison more non-indigenous people than previously, whereas before they may have been getting off because of their colour.
See also this; "The NT has the second highest proportion of female police staff (29.6 per cent); The Territory has the highest proportion of indigenous staff" from this report on the Northern Territories Police Service
The latest news is that the Country Liberal Party who introduced the Three Strikes Law has been voted out in NT after 25 years in power. The incoming Labour administration has promised to repeal the Law, or it least modify it. If it is repealed it will be interesting from a criminological point of view to see what happens to the crime statistics over the next few years. This promises to be a fascinating experiment that could potentially prove the value of this law for once and for all, in that its effects will be doubly demonstrated, first by its application and then by its removal.
However it must be remembered that the citizens of NT will pay a heavy price. Some of them will end up unwillingly making the ultimate sacrifice in order to prove a point to the rest of the world. No doubt many in NT are going to fight the repeal of this law tooth and nail, and who can blame them?