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HomeNewsABS data reveals Covid-19 offending topped crime list

ABS data reveals Covid-19 offending topped crime list

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Covid-19 related offences topped the list of crimes recorded across Australia, new data for the 2021-22 financial year has revealed.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics’ latest report into recorded crime found overall there were 369,488 offenders proceeded against by police in Australia during that time.

But of those offences, the highest number recorded nationally Covid-19 related offences with 68,791 offenders.

NSW led the charge with 68 per cent or 46,986 offenders disobeying the public health orders.

ABS head of crime and justice statistics William Milne said the overall number of offenders recorded by police in Australia increased by 3 per cent, to 369,488 offenders in 2021-22.

“Largely contributing to this increase was a rise in Covid-19-related offences, which more than doubled from the previous year (up 39,573 offenders),” Mr Milne said.

However, not all of those fines issued in NSW were ordered to pay.

Revenue NSW announced in November that 33,121 of the fines issued in 2021 would be withdrawn, outstanding payments would be revoked and refunds would be issued to anyone who had already paid.

The decision came after a landmark case was heard in the NSW Supreme Court in November when three Sydneysiders challenged the penalty notices issued for Covid-related public health orders.

“In this case, (the Commissioner of Fines Administration) has decided to exercise his statutory power to withdraw two types of Public Health Order fines,” Revenue NSW announced in November.

“Fail to comply with noticed direction in relation section 7/8/9 – COVID-19’ – Individual, and Fail to comply with noticed direction in relation section 7/8/9 – COVID-19’ – Company.

“This decision does not mean the offences were not committed.”

However, the remaining 29,017 Covid-19 fines during 2021 – which do not fall under those two categories – were required to be paid if not already resolved.

“They are not affected by this decision,” the statement read.

“This decision does not mean the offences were not committed.”

The number of Covid-19 related offences recorded in other states and territories were:

  • 16,360 in Victoria
  • 1,757 in South Australia
  • 1,574 in Queensland
  • 1,171 in Western Australia
  • 515 in the Northern Territory
  • 217 in Tasmania
  • 210 in the Australian Capital Territory

The offender rate also increased from 1,599 offenders in 2020–21 to 1,632 offenders per 100,000 persons in 2021–22.

The other most recorded offences included acts intended to cause injury with 83,926 offenders (23 per cent), miscellaneous offences with 61,299 offenders (17 per cent) and illicit drug offences with 50,920 offenders (14 per cent).

Miscellaneous offences saw a 96 per cent increase from the previous year, largely due to fines being issued for Covid-19 related offences in NSW.

Meanwhile, Australia saw a 19 per cent drop in the number of illicit drug offences in 2021-22, the sixth straight annual decrease.

Mr Milne said the latest data showed the lowest number recorded in the 14 years since this report began, with 50,920 illicit drug offenders recorded in 2021-22.

“The number of illicit drug offenders have been falling since a peak in 2015-16,” Mr Milne said.

“The largest decreases coincided with the last two years of Covid-19 pandemic restrictions around Australia.

“This year’s decrease was largely due to a decline in the number of offenders charged with the possession or use of illicit drugs, which fell by 7,079 offenders or 17 per cent.”

All states and territories recorded fewer illicit drug offenders from the previous year, with the largest drop in Queensland, followed by South Australia and NSW down.

The data also revealed three-quarters of offenders recorded were men, while the median age of offenders was 31 years for the second year in a row.

However, most offenders (70 per cent) were aged under 40 years in 2021–22.

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