, Volume 11, Issue 3, pp 247-270

Are we becoming more violent? A comparison of trends in violent and property offenses in Australia and Western Australia

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Abstract

This paper examines Australian and West Australian trends in robbery, assault, and burglary. Police figures are contrasted with the results of Australian victimization surveys. The limitations of Australian victimization surveys are discussed. The results of Australian victimization surveys are contrasted with the results of the National Crime Survey in the United States and the International Crime Victim Survey. When all the qualifications are considered, it is concluded that there has been a trend upward in burglary and robbery prevalence and that this upward trend occurred mainly in the 1980s. However, because there is little evidence of a concomitant rise in the assault rate, the increasing prevalence of robbery and burglary is interpreted as reflecting social phenomena that are associated with “acquisitiveness” rather than “aggressiveness.” Other evidence pertaining to the level of violence in Australia is considered and it is concluded that this is insufficient to allow a conclusion that we are, as a nation, becoming more violent.