4519.0 - Recorded Crime - Offenders, 2016-17  
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YOUTH OFFENDERS

OVERVIEW

This chapter presents statistics about the characteristics of offenders aged 10–17 years who were proceeded against by police during the period 1 July 2016 to 30 June 2017. Characteristics of the offenders include sex and age, as well as the principal offence for which a youth offender was proceeded against by police.

Certain offences are excluded from the Recorded Crime – Offenders collection. For further information about the scope and counting methodology of the collection refer to paragraphs 3–15 of the Explanatory Notes.

There were 54,064 youth offenders recorded by police during the 2016–17 reference period. For the fourth consecutive year, youth offenders (aged 10–17 years) accounted for 13% of the total offender population. In comparison, people aged 10–17 years represented 11% of the total Australian Estimated Resident Population (ERP) aged 10 years and over as at 31 December 2016. (Table 18 and Australian Demographic Statistics (cat. no. 3101.0)

The youth offender rate in 2016–17 was 2,330 offenders per 100,000 persons aged 10–17 years. In comparison, the offender rate for the general offender population was 1,949 offenders per 100,000 persons. (Table 19)

While the national offender rate was higher for youth than for the general population, this was not the case in every state and territory. In South Australia, Tasmania and the Northern Territory, people aged 10–17 years were less likely to be offenders of crime than the general population.

In 2016–17, the youth offender rate, as measured per 100,000 persons aged 10–17 years, was highest in the Northern Territory (2,961) and lowest in the Australian Capital Territory (884).

Western Australia had the highest proportion of youth offenders to total offenders, with those aged 10–17 years representing 16% of total offenders for the state. (Table 20)

Graph Image for YOUTH OFFENDERS(a), Offender rate(b) by states and territories, 2016-17

Footnote(s): (a) Persons aged 10 to 17 years. (b) Rate per 100,000 persons aged 10–17 years for the state/territory of interest (see Explanatory Notes paragraphs 16–19).

Source(s): Recorded Crime - Offenders



PRINCIPAL OFFENCE

Since the beginning of the time series in 2008–09, the predominant principal offence committed by youth offenders has been Theft, which comprised 36% of all youth offenders in 2016–17.

Theft was the most prevalent principal offence in all jurisdictions, with the exception of Tasmania, the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory. New South Wales had a higher proportion of youth offenders with a principal offence of Theft (54%) than any other jurisdiction. This was predominantly due to the inclusion of fare evasion offences in New South Wales.

The second most prevalent principal offence nationally was Acts intended to cause injury (16%), followed by Illicit drug offences (11%) and Public order offences (10%).

Acts intended to cause injury was the most prevalent offence in both Tasmania and the Australian Capital Territory (21% and 22%, respectively) and Unlawful entry with intent was most prevalent in the Northern Territory (37%).

Over the period 2008–09 to 2016–17, the number of youth offenders declined across most offence categories. The highest percentage decreases in the number of youth offenders were for:
  • Homicide and related offences, which fell by 67% (from 73 to 24)
  • Offences against justice, which fell by 60% (from 1,500 to 608)
  • Property damage and environmental pollution, which fell by 53% (from 7,109 to 3,376)
  • Public order offences, which fell by 51% (from 10,733 to 5,285)

Two notable exceptions to this trend were:
  • Illicit drug offences, which increased by 47% since 2008–09 (from 3,916 to 5,757 youth offenders).
  • Sexual assault and related offences, which increased by 35% (from 1,103 to 1,487 youth offenders). The increase was largely due to increases in Non-assaultive sexual offences, which increased from 243 to 653 offenders. (Table 18)


SEX

In 2016–17, there were approximately two and a half times more male than female youth offenders (38,191 and 15,788 respectively). In comparison, for the total offender population there were over three times more male than female offenders (314,997 and 97,913 respectively). (Tables 1 and 19)

The youth offender rate was higher for males than females for every offence category, but the difference was most pronounced for Prohibited/regulated weapons (male offender rate (69) was nine times higher than the female offender rate (8)) and Dangerous/negligent acts (male offender rate (30) was eight times higher than the female offender rate (4)). The smallest difference was for Theft, where the male youth offender rate (1,011) was just over one and a half times higher than the female rate (632). (Table 19)