We have a strange situation in Australia. At a time when people seem to be more worried by crime, the research evidence suggests crime rates are not increasing. How can we explain this apparent contradiction? Mis perceptions of crime in australia--
Within Australia it has been said people are more worried by crime however some research evidence from different periods suggests that rates are not increasing. This essay will look at perceptions from different studies completed nationally and internationally, crime rates also both nationally and internationally and will also look at sources our information and how this manipulates the public into thinking such a contradiction has occurred.
Perceptions within the criminal justice system and through out the public play an important role when policy decisions relative to enforcement agencies and sentencing of offenders according to (Davis, B., & Dossetor, K. (2010). (Mis)perceptions of crime in australia. Woden: Australian Institute of Criminology). The Australia Bureau of Statistics 2008 (ABS) reported on the level of crimes in 2007 was lower then 1997 relating to homicide offences, robbery, theft unlawful entry. Crimes reported to enforcement agencies for other offences including, abduction, kidnapping, extortion and blackmail increased slightly during (1998 – 2007). The general public consensus is that crime is on the rise however this perception does not run concurrent with enforcement agency statistics or research studies. Australian studies have researched into the population perceptions and found that a proportionate amount think rates are increasing when rates have either remained stagnate of have declined. According to (Weatherburn D & Indermaur D 2004. Public perceptions of crime trends in New South Wales and Western Australia) found that some people within the community who lacked higher or minimal education, women or the elderly held an inaccurate perception of true rates of crime compared to higher educated, younger or male.
When explaining the communities perception regarding sentencing of crimes two theories can be used according to Davis et al., (2010) first is the experience of instrumental theory, secondly is expressive theory. The first theory motions towards an experience where it has affected the individual/victim where as the latter refers to a much wider scale of cultural meaning social stance feelings, and conditions contributing to the offence/threat. Suggestions have been made that the communities perception of crime rates increasing is due to the radius from the immediate local area, it has also been suggested that crime rates have increased nationally but not to there local area with reference to the previous theories. The National Survey of Community Satisfaction with Policing (NSCSP) examines issues relating towards nationwide community perceptions. During 2007-2008 36,489 samples were taken in a survey, from these samples perceptions of crime levels were on the decline as the sample focus was on there local area instead state or nation. The public perceived over a five year period that drug offences, property and violent crimes were on the rise, but his was not the case according to victimisation surveys from police.
Another survey which is also supports the NSCSP findings is the Australian Survey of Social Attitudes (AuSSA). Referring to Davis et al., (2010) over a four year period the AuSSA conducted three surveys 2003, 2004 and 2007, from the 20,000 randomly chosen samples posted 41 percent completed the questionnaire which included 5 questions regarding perceptions of; changes in level of crime; crimes involving violence; convicted from those charged; convicted males sent to prison and convicted males sent to prison from home burglary. According to the study conducted by AuSSA over a 2 year period from 2005 – 2007, 39 percent believed that crime had increased, crime involving violence 23 percent of the sample believed...
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