Crime Statistics Portal
Welcome to the WA Police statistics portal. The WA Police is committed to transparency of information, so the community can understand and assess the agency’s performance. Crime statistics are one manner in which the agency’s work can be interpreted, but not the only way. The agency also reports annually on Key Performance Indicators, which are explained further below.
About crime statistics
Like all statistics, crime statistics are open to interpretation as to what they tell us and their ultimate significance.
Firstly, WA Police’s statistics are accompanied by crime statistical notes. These notes are technical, but clarify how WA Police statistics are gathered, across what timeframes, against certain legislative meanings and so on.
Secondly, it is worth taking a few minutes to consider some facts about crime statistics, before reading the data:
Crime rates are influenced by numerous factors, not just policing
Police can influence crime rates by targeting causal factors (crime prevention), providing an effective response to incidents, and by successfully investigating offences and apprehending offenders. However, many other factors come into play, such as economic conditions (e.g. unemployment rates), the time of year, weather (e.g. more burglaries tend to occur in warmer months), the make-up of the community (e.g. predominantly elderly or young people, well-off or not so well-off), the extent to which people and businesses implement crime-prevention strategies, and so on.
Population is another factor. Western Australia’s population has grown 40% in the past 10 years, inevitably having an effect. At the local level, population changes can change quickly. For example, Byford 10 years ago was a semi-rural area with a small population, but now features large housing developments. For these reasons, crime reports tend to present crime data not just in raw numbers, but also in ratios (usually per 100,000 people).
To what extent the public actually report crime can heavily influence statistics. For example, it is known graffiti is under-reported and many stealings not reported at all. Conversely, the public in the past decade has been strongly encouraged by police to report all family violence and sex assault matters. This is the result of police and the community changing its expectations, which is a good thing, but increased reporting naturally increases crime counts. This is an example where an increase in a crime tally doesn’t tell the full story.
It can be difficult to separate out what impact any - or all - of these things makes, at a particular point in time, in a particular place. What is true is that all of these factors do at some point influence crime. Even how vigorously police target particular offences has a statistical effect. For example, if police very actively target drug-dealing in a given month, more offenders would be proactively identified and charged, leading to statistics increasing for that period. It would be wrong to conclude drug-dealing was ‘up’ in that area.
In summary, policing effort is an important ‘lever to pull’, but it is simply just one of the influencers on the total crime picture.
Long-term versus the short-term
Police closely monitor how crime is tracking month upon month and take what corrective actions are considered necessary in response to any emerging trends. However, it is essential to look at the longer-term picture as well as the short-term. For example, crime in a suburb or town may have spiked dramatically upwards last month on the previous month or even this year compared to last year, but still be trending downwards on average, over a five or 10-year period. Longer-term trends, averaged out, are generally more revealing than ‘month on month’ statistics, though both are important.
Changes in crime
The percentage change in crime provides a means of comparing change over time or between different types of crime. However, where a small number of crimes is involved, it is important to take into account the change in the actual number of crimes, not just percentage rises or falls. This is because a small number of crimes can result in large percentage changes, particularly over a short timeframe. For example, there may have been three armed robberies in Kalgoorlie in one month, all committed by one ‘spree’ offender over two days. If there had been one armed robbery in Kalgoorlie the previous month, in percentage terms this would represent a 200% increase in reported armed robberies for that city. Again, this highlights the worth of considering longer-term analysis and – in this example – looking beyond just one crime-type or category.
What do the crime categories include or exclude?
You should read the ‘crime offence descriptions’, so you fully understand what a crime category is actually counting. For example, ‘motor vehicle theft’ is a separate category from ‘theft’, meaning the former is not included in the latter tally.
Making state-by-state or international comparisons.
It’s always useful to make comparisons, but this can be problematic because there are variations between some jurisdictions as to the legal definitions of crime-types, reporting rates by the public and statistical counting rules. Even within Australia, police forces don’t gather and report statistics exactly the same, though as far as possible standardisation is sought. For more information, see the Australian and New Zealand Standard Offence Classification.
Other organisations’ crime statistics
WA Police is not the only source of useful crime statistics. It can be informative to read WA Police data in conjunction with other data, which can give a national, international or specialist perspective. Other statistical sources include:
- Australian Bureau of Statistics
- Australian Institute of Criminology
- Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission
Is crime in my area good or bad?
It’s well understood that some towns and suburbs experience more or less crime than others. Once again, that is an outcome of a blend of factors including socio-economic status, unemployment rates, policing strategies, the area’s ‘built infrastructure’ (e.g. Does it have large commercial premises, entertainment districts, etc?). Some towns and suburbs have particular issues with particular crime categories, but do much better on other crime issues.
Direct comparisons between communities are worthwhile, but what is more important is understanding how the community and governments are working together in a particular location to address all of these elements in a comprehensive crime-prevention approach.
It is worth noting that WA Police collects crime data for police districts. These are administrative geographical areas, which might contain a number of different types of communities, with different issues and needs (e.g. a police district might typically have one large regional city, six or eight small towns and perhaps four Indigenous communities). In such a circumstance, the district statistics need to be seen in that context.
Police’s Key Performance Indicators
WA Police has 14 Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to allow its performance to be measured, monitored, evaluated, reported and improved.
The KPIs provide information about the effectiveness and efficiency of police services. They play a key role in managing performance at all levels in the WA Police. The KPIs are reported against in every WA Police Annual Report.
During 2013-14, the WA Police reviewed its Outcome Based Management framework. A new framework was developed and subsequently approved by Government. It has just one outcome: ‘Contribute to community safety and security’. The extent to which this outcome is being achieved though the resourcing and delivery of services to the community is assessed through the following KPIs:
Key Effectiveness Indicators
- Rate of offences against the person (excluding domestic violence incidents) per 100,000 people
- Rate of offences against property per 100,000 people
- Percentage of sworn police officer hours available for frontline policing duties
- Percentage of priority 1 & 2 incidents in the metropolitan area responded to within 12 minutes
- Percentage of priority 3 incidents in the metropolitan area responded to within 60 minutes
- Percentage of family and domestic-related incidents where an offender was processed for an offence against the person within 7 days
- Percentage of offences against the person investigations finalised within 60 days
- Percentage of offences against property investigations finalised within 30 days
- Percentage of traffic law enforcement contacts made by police officers that target ‘Category A’ offences (behaviours most likely to cause crashes such as alcohol/drugs, dangerous/reckless driving, speeding, unauthorised driving, and use of mobile phones whilst driving, or contribute to the severity of injury i.e. not wearing seatbelts/restraints/helmets.)
- Percentage of the community who were ‘satisfied’ or ‘very satisfied’ with the service received during their most recent contact with police
- Percentage of the community who ‘agreed’ or ‘strongly agreed’ that they have confidence in police
Key Efficiency Indicators
- Average cost of metropolitan policing services per person in the Perth metropolitan area
- Average cost of regional and remote policing services per person in regional WA
- Average cost of specialist policing services per person in WA
This new suite of KPIs reflect the recommendations of a review by the Office of the Auditor-General, it aligns with national police performance indicators and also the ‘balanced scorecard’ concept, that considers performance against customer, internal process, organisational readiness and financial perspectives.
In summary, these KPIs measure how well WA Police does the key activities that make a very significant contribution towards achieving ‘community safety and security’. The reader should note that the KPIs include the rate of offences against the person and property which acknowledges that WA Police has an intense focus on responding to, and reducing, crime. That is what the Western Australian community expects.