Crime statistics are one measure the community uses to judge our relative safety and security. They show the rate of recorded crime across local government areas or regions, and can highlight trends such as increases or decreases in types of crimes and how and where they are committed. The government uses crime statistics as an indicator of the effectiveness of criminal justice policies, and Victoria Police uses crime statistics to help determine its resourcing needs.
Given the importance of crime statistics in managing public safety and the high level of public attention and scrutiny they receive, it is important that they accurately reflect reported crime. Past reviews have revealed the misleading use of crime statistics and some cases that were recorded as resolved inappropriately.
Victoria Police collects, reviews and records information on crimes—and the victims and alleged offenders involved—in its Law Enforcement Assistance Program (LEAP) database. The Crime Statistics Agency (CSA), part of the Department of Justice and Regulation, converts data extracted from LEAP into statistics which it publishes on its website quarterly.
In this audit, we examined whether crime data is reliable and effectively used for decision-making. We focused on the completeness, accuracy and timeliness of Victoria Police data and the methodology used by CSA to analyse and publish crime statistics. We made nine recommendations for Victoria Police.