Objective To determine whether crime data is reliable and effectively used for decision-making
Issues Crime statistics provide important information about the incidence of reported crime across the state. Policy-makers may rely on this data to shape their policies on law and order, and the statistics may also inform the work of other government agencies responsible for managing offenders, such as corrections and the courts. However, for crime statistics to be useful, the underlying data needs to be accurate and reliable.
In 2009, the former Victorian Ombudsman reported his concerns with crime statistics and police numbers to Parliament. In 2011, he investigated the alleged manipulation of police criminal data for political purposes following a complaint from a whistleblower. He found that the reported 27 per cent reduction in assaults in Melbourne was ‘misleading and inconsistent with other data’. In both reports, the Ombudsman recommended that an independent agency should be set up to manage the release of crime data, as was the case in Western Australia, South Australia and New South Wales.
As a result, in 2013 the Victorian Government created the Crime Statistics Agency which sits within the Department of Justice and Regulation. Its governing legislation is the Crime Statistics Act 2014. Since January 2015, the Crime Statistics Agency has been responsible for processing, analysing and publishing Victorian crime statistics but has no powers to provide assurance about the accuracy and reliability of the source data provided by Victoria Police.
This audit will assess the progress in improving the reliability of crime data and its use by decision-makers.
Proposed agencies Victoria Police, Emergency Services Telecommunications Authority, Crime Statistics Agency and the Department of Justice and Regulation.