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Australia’s homicide rate is down more than 50% since the 1990s, despite a small drop during COVID


The homicide rate in Australia has continued its overall downward trajectory in the United States latest crime figures released last week.

In fact, in 2020-21, Australia recorded the second lowest murder rate since the Australian Institute of Criminology began compiling national statistics in 1989.

How does Australia compare to other countries? And do our perceptions of crime match the reality that Australia is generally becoming a safer place to live?

Homicide in Australia

The National homicide monitoring program is the only national data collection program for homicide incidents, victims and perpetrators.

According to the most recent report, there were 210 murder incidents in Australia between July 1, 2020 and June 30, 2021, with 263 offenders identified. There were 221 murder victims, nearly 70% of whom were men. Only nine incidents involved multiple casualties.

This was the second lowest annual homicide rate (0.82 per 100,000 people) since 1989-90. This period (2020-21) was at the height of the COVID pandemic, with lockdowns and other restrictions in place in several places.

The number of homicides had risen in the previous year (2019-2020), including the start of the pandemic when lockdowns were similarly in place. There were 261 homicides reported that year, about 1.02 per 100,000 people.

While it is difficult to establish a direct causal relationship between coronavirus restrictions and crime rates, the 2019-2020 homicide rate appears to be a departure from Australia’s long-term trend.

Overall, the national homicide rate has steadily declined from 1.88 per 100,000 people in 1992-93 to 0.82 in 2020-21 – a 55% decline in nearly 30 years.

When it comes to the type of homicides occurring in Australia, domestic homicides were the most common in 2020-2021, accounting for about 36% of incidents. The rate of women killed in intimate partner homicide was 0.25 per 100,000 people, which is a 74% decrease since 1989-90.

Men were overwhelmingly responsible for all homicides in 2020-21, accounting for 84% of perpetrators.

Read more: Some crimes fell dramatically during the coronavirus, but homicides in the US did not

How do we relate to the rest of the world?

The 2019 United Nations Global Study on Murder indicated that the global average homicide rate was 6.1 per 100,000 people in 2017, a rate America inflated at 17.2 per 100,000 people.

Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the United States shows that the homicide rate in that country was 7.8 per 100,000 in 2021. This percentage has increased in recent years.

In 2022, the number of murders will be in England and Wales was 1.2 per 100,000 people. There was a 23% increase in homicide rates compared to March 2020-21, returning to pre-COVID levels.

About 81% of homicides in the US involved the use of firearms, while in England and Wales sharps (including knives) were the most common methods of killing at 41%.

The most recent Australian data shows that knives were used in 38% of incidents and firearms were used in 11%.

Read more: Australia’s prisoner numbers have declined, but we don’t know exactly why yet

Does the murder rate reflect overall crime trends?

Overall, crime in Australia is also declining. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics Crime Victimization Surveythe number of physical attacks has decreased by 39% compared to 2008-2009, the number of personal threats by 44% and the number of robberies by 50%.

However, sexual violence increased by 66% in the same period. And experts say the vast majority of people those who experience sexual assault do not report it to the police, meaning the actual figure is much higher.

Do our perceptions match reality?

Criminologists Don Weatherburn and Sara Rahman investigated the drop in crime in Australia in their recent book. They note that crime statistics in general began to decline in 2001 and by 2018

rates of the most common crimes had fallen between 40 and 80% and were lower than they had been in twenty or in some cases thirty years.

However, perceptions of personal safety may not match these lower crime statistics.

The fear of crime is an emotional reaction to the expectation of becoming a victim of criminals. a anxiety level of a person can be influenced by a number of things, including their own life experiences, their media exposure, and their social and cultural environment.

The productivity committee Report on government services measures perceptions of safety from the national survey of community satisfaction with policing. In 2021-2022, a large majority of people (89%) reported feeling “safe” or “very safe” at home.

However, when public places were asked, rates dropped significantly. Just over half of respondents (53.8%) said they felt safe walking alone in their neighborhood and a third (32.7%) felt safe traveling on public transport.

However, the data shows that crime in general, and homicide in particular, is declining. Australia is becoming a safer place to live.

Read more: Putting the puzzle pieces together to create safe public spaces for all

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