HomeLifeCrime on the rise, suggests ABS data

Crime on the rise, suggests ABS data

New figures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) reveal a 9 per cent increase in crime in 2022-23. The ABS numbers released last month show that a total of 533,971 defendants had cases finalised in Australian Criminal Courts. That’s an increase of 45,035 over the previous reporting year. 

By far the majority of those charged in 2022-23 were found guilty in court. Court judgements resulted in a guilty outcome in 466,453 – 97 per cent – of cases. Just over half of these (249,325) were handed a fine for their offences. A total of 43,073 cases – 9 per cent – resulted in a custodial sentence at a correctional institution.

What’s driving up crime?

Oddly enough, what’s driving up crime is driving itself, judging by the ABS numbers. Traffic and vehicle offences accounted for 35 per cent of all cases. The next most frequent crime category was ‘acts intended to cause injury’, which represented 16 per cent of all cases. Of those, most were sub-classified as assault.

The proportion of defendants with a guilty outcome for acts intended to cause injury was slightly lower, at 90 per cent (61,860) of those receiving a judgement, with one in five (20 per cent) of these defendants being sentenced to custody in a correctional institution.

A total of 51,148 defendants (about 10 per cent) were involved in ‘offences against justice’.  This category includes offences such as breach of violence or non-violence orders. 

Some might be surprised to learn that illicit drug offences accounted for just 8 per cent of criminal cases overall. A total of 41,940 defendants faced charges in that category.

What the numbers don’t tell us

Lest the ABS be accused of ‘misleading the jury’, it has taken the time to point out potentially deceptive numbers. Specifically, it states that some of these numbers may have been skewed by delays resulting from the global pandemic.

“The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in restrictions that affected the volume of defendants finalised in the criminal courts,” the ABS stated. “This should be considered when comparing the data for 2022–23 to earlier years. In addition, courts continued to resolve backlogs created or compounded by such restrictions which caused case finalisations to be delayed.”

In other words, the 9 per cent jump in criminal cases on the previous year isn’t necessarily cause for panic. 

Australian youth crime

As a percentage youth defendants (aged 10-17) accounted for 4 per cent of the overall 2022-23 total. One encouraging aspect of the youth data is the total number – 23,254. That equates to a 35 per cent drop on 2010-11 figures.

A further breakdown of the youth figures reveals a median age of 16 years for defendants. Almost three-quarters (74 per cent) of youth defendants were male, similar to the proportion of all ages (75 per cent).

Family domestic violence (FDV) figures

The ABS figures for 2022-23 showed a total of 99,932 defendants nationally with at least one FDV-related offence. The corresponding figure in 2021-22 was 83,849. That’s a 19 per cent increase which is, on the surface, an alarming increase.

Again, though, the jump may have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The ABS also issued the following note in last year’s release: “For some states, there has also been substantial improvements in the identification of FDV-related offences over this period.” This, it says, has increased counts of defendants in recent years.

The full ABS crime statistics can be accessed via the ABS website.

Have you observed a change in criminal behaviour or levels of criminal behaviour in your area? Do the ABS statistics reflect your perception? Let us know via the comments section below.

Also read: Security strategy outlines how government plans to tackle cybercrime

Andrew Gigacz
Andrew Gigaczhttps://www.patreon.com/AndrewGigacz
Andrew has developed knowledge of the retirement landscape, including retirement income and government entitlements, as well as issues affecting older Australians moving into or living in retirement. He's an accomplished writer with a passion for health and human stories.


  1. Youth crime including serious crime is through the roof. But much of it is being carried out by a small number of young criminals who repeatedly offend. I don’t think the figures in the article account for the fact that some young individuals are charged and convicted of ten or twenty crimes at a single court appearance.

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