CRC funded reports
The Council received reports from 13 completed research projects during the year 1990-91. Summaries of these reports are given below. These reports are held by the Australian Institute of Criminology's JV Barry Library and are available on inter-library loan. For full bibliographic information on any report, search the Library's Catalogue.
- Victorian occupational health and safety legislation: an assessment of law in transition
- Compilation of services for victims of crime throughout Australia
- Investigation of the incidence and analysis of cases of alleged violence reporting to the accident and emergency centre of St Vincent's Hospital
- An analysis of victims of homicide and other forms of violent death in Victoria
- Prison environment indicators
- Doctors and spousal assault victims: prevention or perpetuation of the cycle of violence
- Crime seriousness: a comparison of public attitude and court practice
- Sentencing law in Tasmania
- Policing financial services: futures market regulation
- A longitudinal analysis of the 1987 Crimes (Family Violence) Act in Victoria: the relationship between the structures of the law, police work and the involved community within the arena of domestic violence
- Extent and causes of violence against Aboriginal women in the NT
- Defining acceptable tax conduct: the role of professional advisers in tax compliance avoidance and minimization in Australia
- Delinquency, a failure in language coping?
Report title: Victorian Occupational Health and Safety? An Assessment of Law in Transition (PDF 19.6MB)
Grantees: Prof W G Carson and Dr W B Creighton
Criminology Research Council grant ; (21/85)
This study investigated the workings of Victoria's new Occupational Health and Safety Act 1985 during the earliest years of its operation. The project was principally funded by the Victoria Law Foundation and the Victorian Department of Labour, with the Council providing the remainder of the funding necessary to complete the research successfully.
Although the study did not set out to evaluate effectiveness in any formal sense, it did attempt to identify early problems in the implementation of this new legislation. To do this it utilised a variety of research methods. Files pertaining to 4,290 registered premises were examined and relevant data extracted for statistical analysis; questionnaires were administered to approximately 320 health and safety representatives and to the registered operators of 900 sets of premises; and 125 formal interviews were conducted. In addition to a period of approximately two years during which two research workers were employed at the Department of Labour, thereby being in constant contact with department personnel, a considerable amount of time was also spent in participant observation. Apart from visits to the different regions of Victoria for purposes of formal interviewing, some 56 days were spent in the regions, either in the field or in regional offices. Around 90 hours were spent at health and safety representative training sessions and 90 court cases were attended.
Some of the main conclusions and recommendations, however, concerned the crisis of information collection confronting the Department, a crisis of enforcement agency morale arising out of the mode of change, and the risk that smaller workplaces might become relatively neglected under the auspices of new data-driven, risk management oriented procedures. The system of health and safety representatives with appropriate powers was found, by all accounts, to be operating relatively well and without the consequence, predicted by some, of industrial relations chaos. More training for managers and supervisors was, however, found to be a frequently recognised need. The project called for the imposition of higher penalties for violation and for the deployment of fines for the furtherance of occupational health and safety programs and research. Above all, it recommended a realistic and graduated enforcement response which would restore a sense of professional discretion to inspectors, make the exercise of that discretion accountable, and in the extreme case, utilise a charge of industrial manslaughter as an integral part of the occupational health and safety regime in Victoria.
Report titles: Vol. 1 Services for Victims of Crime in Australia: Report to the Criminological Research Council / Jennifer David, Julie Stubbs and Francis Pegrum; and Vol. 2 Services for Victims of Crime in Australia: Directory and Bibliography / Jennifer David, Julie Stubbs and Francis Pegrum.
Grantees: Prof J A David, University of Sydney (now at Bond University) and J Stubbs
Criminology Research Council grant ; (8/88)
It was intended that one of the functions that such a directory would fulfil would be to assist in the referral of victims of crime to services appropriate to their needs. Of equal importance however, was the concern to go some way towards providing systematic information about the range of services actually being provided for victims of crime in Australia, and conversely to assist in identifying the gaps and limitations in service provision. It was considered that such information was basic to the task of rational policy development and service provision.
It was also anticipated that the project may serve an educative function, by bringing the needs of victims of crime to the attention of various service agencies.
In order to compile the Directory a national survey was conducted of a wide range of government and non-government agencies considered likely to provide relevant specialist or generalist services to victims of crime. Approximately 1,200 survey forms were distributed nationally.
The survey sought information concerning whether a given agency provided a service to victims of crime, the proportion of crime victims among the agency's clientele, the nature of services offered, and whether the services targeted particular groups of clients. Details were also collected about the availability of the services, the geographical area serviced by the agency, the hours of operation, cost (if any), the provision of interpreter services, child care, and disabled access. This information, together with the address (where this was able to be disclosed) and telephone number of the service were compiled into a Directory of Services for Victims of Crime in Australia.
Additional information was also collected from each respondent to the survey (whether currently providing a relevant service or not) concerning the perceived needs of victims of crime, factors currently limiting the provision of service to victims of crime and suggestions for additional services to meet the needs of victims of crime, either generally or for specific categories of victims. This latter information was analysed and used in part as the basis of the report to the Council.
In all, 439 responses to the survey were received, 321 indicating that the responding agency did provide a service to victims of crime, and 118 indicating that the agency did not provide a relevant service. The majority of the responses (54 per cent) were received from within the state of New South Wales, which is likely to reflect at least in part the local knowledge of, and links with, New South Wales agencies by members of the research team.
In most states the majority of services listed were not offence specific - that is, they were available to any category of victim of crime. Such services included those offered by government departments such as Police, Family and Community Services or the equivalent, Victims of Crime Compensation (offered in various forms by most states and territories), and those offered by the community sector such as community legal centres and information services of various kinds.
Where services targeted particular clients, most often these were oriented to the needs of victims of sexual assault, child abuse or domestic violence. There were no services evident in any state or territory which targeted the needs of victims of any other specific category of offence.
The majority of the services offered throughout Australia were free of charge, and most of those that involved some cost were means tested. Few services were available outside normal office hours and on weekends, and very few 24-hour crisis services are listed (no such services are listed for New South Wales, Victoria or Queensland). Only about half of the responding agencies indicated that they had disabled access and few agencies provided child care for their clients.
Very few services throughout Australia have a specific focus upon the needs of non-English speaking people, or Aboriginal people. The various Aboriginal Legal Services are an obvious exception, and many of the women's refuges also indicated that bi-lingual and Aboriginal workers were employed in recognition of the special needs of victims of crime from cultural groups other than that of the dominant Anglo culture. Less than half of the agencies responding to the survey indicated that they had interpreter services available for non-English speaking victims of crime.
Whilst many of the agencies indicated that their services were available statewide, it was not possible to assess the extent to which services could or did in fact adequately service such an area. Some of the agencies surveyed acknowledged the difficulties of providing an adequate service outside metropolitan and/ or regional centres.
There were a number of general themes apparent in the responses to the survey, with very little variation evident between the different states and territories. Many services are said to be under-funded and over-used.
Respondents stressed the need for more crisis services available on a 24-hour basis to provide counselling, emotional support and emergency accommodation, and for on-going counselling and support. The need for affordable medium and long-term housing was also raised particularly by women's refuges.
The need for the victim to be informed about the progress of matters throughout the criminal justice system was also a common theme suggested by respondents as was the concern that police and other criminal justice personnel needed education as to the needs of victims of crime.
A National Victims of Crime Resource Centre is recommended by the research team as a means of facilitating the sharing of information, the rational planning of future services and the referral of victims of crime to appropriate existing services.
The researchers also recommend the examination of 'outreach' models for service delivery for victims of crime. Since most existing services rely upon self-referral by victims of crime, the risk exists that many victims of crime are unaware of the available services or not equipped to avail themselves of those services.
Other recommendations arising from the research include careful consideration of the role of specialist police units in providing assistance to victims of crime, the need for a thorough examination of the use of alternative dispute resolution techniques involving offenders and victims, and the need for a rigorous evaluation of criminal justice reforms introduced to assist victims of crime.
Investigation of the incidence and analysis of cases of alleged violence reporting to the accident and emergency centre of St Vincent's Hospital
Report titles: Investigation of the Incidence and Analysis of Cases of Alleged Violence Reporting to the Accident and Emergency Centre of St Vincent's Hospital (PDF 1.8MB); and Investigation of the Incidence and Analysis of Cases of Alleged Violence Reporting to the Accident and Emergency Centres of A Metropolitan and Rural Hospitals / Marjorie Cuthbert, Frances Lovejoy, Gordian Fulde, Robin Kelly and David Whealing. 1993.
Grantees: M Cuthbert, Dr F Lovejoy and Dr G Fulde
Criminology Research Council grant ; (28/88)
This report primarily studies the victims of violence who have presented to the Accident and Emergency Centre (AEC) of St Vincent's as 'alleged assaults' in the six-month period from 25 December 1988 through to 30 June 1989. A comprehensive profile of these cases is revealed from the structured Victim Survey that was the research tool. This study demonstrates that the victims of violence are a significant proportion of cases seen in this busy Emergency Department and it gives strong indications that violence is a prevalent problem for the whole community.
The report suggests that this is a problem which cannot be conveniently brushed aside as media sensationalism. Evidence of this is revealed through a comparison of the alleged assault presentations with the worker's compensation, motor vehicle accidents, alcohol and drug related presentations in the AEC. Additionally, the data was correlated with metropolitan and statewide police figures on violence and related to the reporting of incidents to the police.
Results provide a profile of the victims of assault and their attackers and these profiles are similar to those reported from a number of studies in different locations.
Recommendations include the ongoing collection of data on the cases presenting to all AECs, education of staff in handling victims of violence and dealing with violent patients, and liaison with community support groups for victims of violence.
A further report will be made available following additional, analysis of the data collected for this research.
Report title: Homicide in Victoria (PDF 3MB)
Grantees: Dr D Ranson and Dr K Polk
Criminology Research Council grant ; (41/88)
This investigation was based on an analysis of case studies of homicides which uses as its data source the files of the State Coroner's Office in Victoria. The project covered the years 1985 and 1986 and has been based principally on an analysis of the nature of the social interaction between the victim and the offender. As a result of the analysis, three major themes were identified within which virtually all homicides could be classified. These included:
- killings where there was some link of intimacy which connected the victim and offender;
- killings which resulted from a confrontation which developed between two or more males; and
- killings which occurred during the committing of another crime.
As well as examining these three main themes in homicide in Victoria, cases were analysed within the classical divisions of homicide described by other authors including the role of victim participation and precipitation, and analysis of weapon used and the differences between stranger homicides and homicides involving family, friends or acquaintances. In addition to the clear-cut homicide cases a number of other deaths were investigated in view of their association with the traditional application of laws relating to homicide. These deaths included deaths in the work place involving the possibility of negligence and culpability on the part of the employees and employers.
This study confirms findings elsewhere in the world that in reality homicide is very different from the image given of it in the media. In many cases the victim and offender were socially linked through some bond of intimacy. Few cases were found that involved strangers.
The report suggests that it is clear that the simple separation of homicide cases into 'domestic' and 'strangers' is not sufficient to allow an adequate understanding of the dynamics of the interactions that occur between offenders and victims and this study represents the application of one form of new classification to these deaths.
Report title: Predicting Major Prison Incidents / The Policy and Planning Unit of the Victorian Office of Corrections (PDF 3.8MB)
Grantees: Office of Corrections Victoria (initial grant to P Priest, Dr M Henderson and S Ross)
Criminology Research Council grant ; (12/87)
Recent events in the United States and the United Kingdom have highlighted the destructive potential of major prison incidents. The study entitled 'Predicting Major Prison Incidents' (1990), carried out by the Policy and Planning Unit, Office of Corrections, has important implications for prison administrators who wish to avoid major incidents within their system.
The original objective of this study was to develop a statistically based system for predicting the occurrence of major prison incidents or disturbances such as fires, riots or hostage-taking. Previous attempts to predict major disturbances have focused on monitoring changes in the frequency of minor prison incidents, especially those involving violence between prisoners or against staff, damage to prison property and complaints by prisoners. This study found that in prisons of the size generally found in Australia the reported rate of occurrence of these incidents is too low to permit statistically accurate prediction on any reasonable time-scale.
Operational issues also give rise to major difficulties in the prediction of major incidents. These issues include the discretionary powers of custodial officers in reporting incidents, problems arising from any system that gives 'false positives' (that is incorrect predictions of major incidents), and the availability of other, often informal information sources.
While major incidents cannot reliably be predicted in advance, there are a number of important ways that prison administrators can prevent (or at least minimise) their occurrence. Major incidents are always possible within a prison system because prisoners, as a group, are not subject to the same social and environmental constraints that apply to people in the wider community. Major incidents are most likely to occur when prison conditions are very bad (particularly if they deteriorate quickly), if relations between prisoners and staff are characterised by hostility and aggression, by the arbitrary, inflexible or confrontationist application of custodial powers, or if there are significant changes in the power relationships within the prison, such as a new administration or conflict between prisoner factions.
Therefore, the preventive measures that can be applied in order to minimise the possibility of a major incident include:
- maintaining a reasonable standard of prisoner accommodation and services;
- providing meaningful activities such as employment, education or recreation;
- dealing with prisoners in a fair and just fashion;
- advising prisoners prior to necessary program and procedural changes;
- training staff to recognise the warning signals of an impending incident, and training managers to accept and act on realistic staff warnings; and
- developing graduated response procedures that allow minor incidents to be dealt with appropriately.
The study reviewed a range of reports on major prison incidents from Australia and the United States and concluded that Australian reports did not provide a systematic basis for understanding the causes of major incidents, or for developing means to deal with them. The study recommends that investigatory and reporting systems should:
- be undertaken by persons who are knowledgeable about prison environments but not directly involved in the actual incident under investigation;
- follow a formal, comprehensive and systematic review process; and
- focus on identifying feasible, appropriate changes to the prison system that will reduce the probability of future incidents or increase the system's capacity to manage them when they do occur.
Report title: Attitudes and Practices of Doctors toward Spouse Assault Victims: An Australian Study / Patricia W. Easteal and Simon Easteal, Violence and Victims, vol. 7, no. 3, 1992, pp. 217-28 (PDF MB)
Grantees: Dr Patricia W Easteal
Criminology Research Council grant ; (34/88)
Literature from overseas indicates that physicians frequently fail to identify battering as the aetiology of patients' physical injuries and / or psychosocial symptoms such as depression or anxiety. Blaming the victim and lack of sympathy have been reported in victim surveys both abroad and in Australia. The present research examines the attitudes that doctors in the ACT hold concerning the causes of wife battering; the reasons that they suspect it has occurred; the role that they believe physicians should play; and some beliefs about bashers and victims. The study also describes the experiences of a sample of battered women/patients and their perception of the care that they received.
The report states that many of the surveyed victims passed through doctors' offices and / or casualty units without initial or ultimate disclosure, and observes that this is particularly alarming if one considers that all of the women were seeking medical attention for physical injuries. Prior research shows that quite often this is not the case; the emotional by-products of domestic violence are frequently the presenting problem. Yet only about one-third of the general practitioners (GPs) identified emotional problems as symptoms they look for in determining assault cases.
Doctors' responses frequently contradicted the recollections of the victims. For example almost three-quarters of the GPs agree that doctors should query a patient if battering is suspected. Since it does not appear that this in fact takes place, respondents may be stating an ideal or they are simply not identifying the symptoms.
Further contradictions include use of tranquillisers and the question of physicians' helpfulness and sympathy. Eighty-three per cent of the GPs whom victims had seen prescribed tranquillisers. However, half of the GP sample disagreed with dispensing such medication in this type of case. Practitioners' responses do indicate sympathy toward battered women patients although more than one-third are unsure about or agree with a statement that victims provoke the bashers to violence. Victims evaluate the doctors as close to 'poor' on both the sympathy and helpfulness variables and cite many instances of blaming-type statements or behaviour.
The report states that few doctors received average scores and are perceived either as 'excellent or terrible'. The study concludes that this dichotomy may in fact be a reflection of real attitudinal differences in the practitioner population rooted in gender and length of service. Females do appear to be more attuned to the emotional symptoms of abuse and tend to hold other supportive beliefs. Those who have worked longer than seventeen years are significantly more conservative.
Only a small proportion of the doctors had received any training about domestic violence. Many of their comments are indicative of a lack of knowledge concerning the cycle of violence. It appears that in Australia, as abroad, a high percentage of doctors are not being trained to recognise wife battering symptomology nor to perceive their role as interventionist. This is particularly unfortunate given the indication that at least in the ACT, GPs are often the first and only professionals turned to by battered women. The obvious potential for diagnosis, prevention and treatment is not, in many cases, enacted or developed. The result for many of the victims in this research has been increased feelings of guilt and blame and the perpetuation of violence.
Report title: Crime Seriousness and Sentencing: A Comparison of Court Practice and the Perceptions of a Sample of the Public and Judges (PDF 4.5MB)
Grantees: David Indermaur
Criminology Research Council grant ; (32/89)
Public debates about the proper function of sentencing have as much to do with belief and preference as they have with empirical evidence as to the effects of a sentence. The trend in the United States, for example, has been toward proportionality in sentencing. In New South Wales 'Truth in Sentencing' legislation has recently been introduced. The present study raises points relevant to the debate on sentencing policy. These are matters which, in application, finally rest with the Government and the judiciary. There are numbers of indications that both these institutions are open to such a debate and the kind of information contained in the present report. It is hoped that the report, which represents a psychological analysis of attitudes toward crime, will be useful to the debate.
The psychological perspective on sentencing contrasts with the legal approach. The assumptions, interests and methodology of psychological analysis are alien to legal scholars. It is hoped this contrast will be beneficial to those seeking a different perspective on sentencing. This study is restricted to an examination of public attitudes in relation to sentencing, however, it is important to recognise that there has been a large amount of highly refined and comprehensive work completed recently on sentencing both overseas and in Australia.
The present study was designed to test the relationship between public perceptions of crime seriousness and indications of crime seriousness based on court practice. Court practice indications of crime seriousness are based on the proportions of convicted offenders imprisoned and the terms of imprisonment imposed for the crimes studied.
Ancillary aims of the study concern:
- an analysis of community views in regard to factors relevant to sentencing (the purpose of sentencing, factors to be considered by the sentencer, etc.);
- a comparison of community views on crime seriousness and other matters related to sentencing with the views of a small sample (15) of higher court judges; and
- an analysis of rates of victimisation, perceptions of the likelihood of victimisation and fear of crime.
The achievement of the main aim of the study (comparison of public perceptions with court practice) requires two separate and distinct measurement tasks: measurement of public attitudes and court practice; and then a test of relationship between these two measures.
The study provides a comparison of court practice and public attitudes in terms of the judged seriousness of a selected range of crimes and was based in Perth, Western Australia. As an adjunct to the main study a small sample (15) of Supreme and District Court judges and two other sentencers were interviewed with the same measurement instrument used to gauge public attitude. The study included analyses of fear of crime, victimisation, views of the media, and various other issues related to criminal justice policy.
The results of this study indicate that there is general agreement between the community, judges and the courts regarding the relative seriousness of the six crimes studied. However, the results indicate differences between the courts, the judges and the public in the quantum of the penalty considered appropriate for most crimes. The public sample suggested, for almost every offence studied, longer periods of imprisonment and greater proportions of offenders to be imprisoned. The public sample also expressed less acceptance of 'time off' prison sentences through remission and parole.
The results of the study point to some areas of agreement and divergence between community attitudes and judicial views. The community and the judiciary tend to agree that judgments of seriousness should be based on the 'harm done' and the seriousness of the offence and the harm done to the victim are the two most important factors that judges should consider when sentencing offenders.
The main points of disagreement are typical of previous work in this area. First, and mainly, the public seem to want the penalty of imprisonment used more than it is by the judges or the court particularly with rape. Second, the offence of armed robbery stands out as the one offence judged as deserving of more punishment by the courts and the judiciary than the public. This has been explained in terms of different understandings of 'harm done'.
The results suggest that the general public is less convinced of the relevance of rehabilitation as a purpose of sentencing than the judges surveyed. The results also demonstrate how questions regarding the overall functions of sentencing if asked in a general way can actually mask functions which are specific to the type of offender and offence. 'Incapacitation' and 'retribution' together account for most (60 per cent) of the community responses to a question regarding the purposes of sentencing offenders convicted of serious violent crimes. In contrast 'individual deterrence' and 'rehabilitation' account for most (73 per cent) of responses offered when considering the sentencing of young offenders convicted of property offences.
Report title: Sentencing in Tasmania / Kate Warner, 1991 (PDF 2.3MB)
Grantees: Kate Warner
Criminology Research Council grant ; (33/86)
The research from this project has been published in book form under the title Sentencing in Tasmania, the Federation Press, Sydney (1991).
The aim of this project was to provide an exposition of sentencing law in Tasmania and thereby to contribute to the development of the common law of sentencing in Australia.
The organisation of the book closely follows that of Fox and Freiberg's Sentencing, State and Federal Law in Victoria. Its aim is to provide a source that contains a synthesis of the statutory and case law in Tasmania governing the sentencing of offenders and statistical information on the pattern of sentences handed down by the Supreme Court and courts of petty sessions. The book is primarily concerned with state law, but brief reference is also made to sentencing rules relating to Federal offences. In addition to all state and Commonwealth statutory material relevant to sentencing, every written judgment of the Court of Criminal Appeal and the Supreme Court, whether reported or unreported was isolated and analysed.
Chapter 1, the introduction, deals with distribution of sentencing authority, the relationship between Commonwealth and state sentencing law and the interpretation of penalty provisions. Chapter 2 deals with sentencing procedure; the role of counsel, determining the facts for the purpose of sentence and pre-sentence reports. Chapter 3 covers appeals. The basis of appellate review in indictable and summary matters and the powers of appeal courts are discussed.
Chapters 4 to 10 cover sentencing options available under state and Federal law. The statutory provisions and relevant case law are analysed. The long chapter on custodial orders (Chapter 9) includes such issues as concurrent and cumulative prison sentences, 'general sentences', parole and remissions.
Chapter 11, 'General Considerations', is a discussion of the views of the Supreme Court, Court of Criminal Appeal and the High Court as to the aims of punishment and the factors that a court can or should take into account in sentencing. Following Fox and Freiberg, rather than discussing general considerations under the heading of aggravating and mitigating factors, relevant factors are considered under the headings of nature of the offence (such as breach of trust, the victim), nature of the offender (for example, prior offences, age), response to the charges (for example, remorse and plea), effect of sanction (for example, hardship to family) and parity (that is, relevance of co-offenders' sentences).
Chapter 12 deals with the patterns of sentencing for indictable offences prosecuted in the Supreme Court. Thirty tables showing the sentencing ranges for the most common crimes are presented. The tables cover the period 1978-89 for most of the offence categories. Based upon reported and unreported decisions and the comments of judges on passing sentence, factors relevant to a particular offence and the factors in the cases that appear to distinguish the upper and lower ranges of sentence are discussed. All comments on passing sentence for the years 1982-89 were read for this purpose.
Chapter 13 deals with a number of summary offences and indictable offences that can be tried summarily. Based on a statewide sample of sentences imposed in a three-month period, tables give an indication of the range of penalties imposed for offences under the Police Offences Act 1935, summary offences under the Poisons Act 1971, stealing and burglary, and serious traffic offences. This data is supplemented by information extracted from court files for motions to review penalties from 1981-89. The discussion of specific offences is based upon this data and published reasons for decisions. The table showing sentencing ranges for social security fraud is based on offenders sentenced between 1 July 1988 and 30 June 1990.
Tables of cases and statutes and a comprehensive index are included.
Report titles: Moving the Goalposts: Financial Regulation in Hong Kong and the Crash of October 1987; Policing Financial Services: Futures Market Regulation; and Policing Financial Services: Futures Market Regulation Appendix - Self-Regulation and Informal Mechanisms of Social Control: A Comparative Perspective
Grantees: Neil Gunningham
Criminology Research Council grant ; (7/88)
This study examines the policing of financial services and, in particular, the regulation of futures markets, in two jurisdictions: Australia and Hong Kong.
The Hong Kong component examines the operation of the Hong Kong stock and futures exchanges during the crash of October 1987 and in particular the controversial decision to close the exchanges. It argues that the closure decision exposes a serious conflict of interest and abuse of power on the part of the major decision-makers and fundamental flaws in Hong Kong's self-regulatory system. Moreover, these events raise broader questions about the strengths and weaknesses of different regulatory regimes and about the value of different theoretical explanations of regulatory behaviour. In particular, it is argued that the most influential theory concerning the regulation of financial markets - that of certain Chicago School economists - raises as many questions as it answers, and that an alternative view which locates cultural and organisational factors at its core provides a more satisfactory explanation of the events of October 1987.
The Australian component examines the contemporary system of regulation of the Australian futures market, which is based primarily on self-regulation with some modest degree of government oversight. It argues that the effectiveness or otherwise of self-regulation will depend crucially on a number of structural variables which may differ markedly between jurisdictions. While in some jurisdictions (for example, Hong Kong) self-regulation may be an abject failure, in others it may prove the most viable and effective form of social control.
The study identifies a number of important structural features of the Sydney market which make it particularly amenable to social control. As a result, the Australian market is less vulnerable to fraud, manipulation and insolvency than many other markets. The players have disincentives to engage in market abuses. When they do engage in them, they are more readily detected than elsewhere, and exchange decision-makers themselves, in many circumstances, have the appropriate incentives to curb abuses.
However, this is not to suggest that self-regulation is free from significant shortcomings. In respect of enforcement, in particular, self-regulation has not worked well. There is evidence of a 'private club' relationship between members, which has been to the detriment of the public interest. However, these shortcomings are neither fundamental nor irremediable, and a number of recommendations are made for reform. If implemented, these would do much to ensure that the Australian investors maintain confidence in the integrity of the market. Such integrity is essential not only for the protection of customers, but also for further industry growth.
A longitudinal analysis of the 1987 Crimes (Family Violence) Act in Victoria: the relationship between the structures of the law, police work and the involved community within the arena of domestic violence
Report title: A Longitudinal Analysis of the 1987 Crimes (Family Violence) Act in Victoria
Grantees: Dr Rosemary Wearing
Criminology Research Council grant ; (9/88)
This project marked the beginning of a five-year study of the Act. In this first stage of the study, all the Family incident Report Forms submitted by police officers in the first six months following the passing of the legislation were analysed. In addition to these documents access was granted to all applications for Intervention Orders filed at police headquarters for the same period (this period was extended to eight months). There was also participation in evening patrols in selected police districts on the weekend over a period of eighteen months.
It is clear from the disputes attended by police, in the first six months of 1988, that calls for their help came from all age groups and from all levels of the socioeconomic scale, ranging from persons (both victims and offenders) in the managerial sector through to those lower levels encompassing the unemployed and home-duties. In addition, disputes were reported from a wide variety of ethnic backgrounds and involving parties who came from all manner of relationships including those not covered by this legislation. It seems, though, at this early stage of the legislation, that there was a strong representation of married parties (about one-third of the disputes involved married persons).
Despite the fear of recrimination and the reluctance of family members to seek legal action against another offending family member (as is well documented in other studies), there is no doubt about the overwhelming predominance of male offenders and female 'victims', regardless of socioeconomic status and ethnicity. But another striking feature of these data (and one that is not so well documented or emphasised in other studies), is the relatively high preponderance of unemployed offenders and victims, although it is important to note here that the police officers tended to describe 'unemployed' females as housewives or engaged in 'home-duties'. To highlight this economic variable, the unemployment rate for offenders averaged 21 per cent (the state unemployment rate at that time was 7 per cent) and this high rate rose to 40 per cent amongst Turkish offenders.
Nearly two-thirds of the disputes were reported after hours, hence highlighting the difficulties facing victims who are seeking help and protection urgently. The tendency for the police to offer advice only and not to carry through at the time of attending the incident with legal refuge, welfare, etc. referrals was also revealed in the data.
When the parties were asked for their opinion as to the cause of the dispute, the most frequent response (51 per cent of the sample) was 'verbal abuse', which was one of the seven categories provided on the form. When we analysed the police qualitative responses to the same question (which they recorded on the forms), we found a greater variety of causes. The police perception of causes emphasised marital or sexual problems (27 per cent), verbal / ongoing arguments in 26 per cent of the disputes, and 25 per cent of the disputes caused by alcohol.
The presence of alcohol (more so than drugs) featured, and the researchers found a strong co-presence of alcohol and violence in that in the 1,213 cases where alcohol was definitely present, 828 cases (or 68 per cent) involved personal violence, in 63 cases (or 5 per cent) a firearm was present or used, and 6 per cent recorded the presence or use of a weapon. To present the results more generally, with reference to violence, more violence against the person was found than against property, and there were 136 cases in which violence with the threat or use of a firearm was present. Thus, 817 disputes (or 25 per cent of the total) involved the use of personal violence, 539 (17 per cent) the use of property violence, 17 (1 per cent) the use of a firearm, and 32 (1 per cent) the use of a weapon. An additional 40 incidents were reported in which a knife was either present or used; thus the last figure is in fact 2 per cent of 72 cases involving the use of a weapon.
The recorded levels of personal violence were highest for those offenders who were retired, in basic manual jobs, in the services and trades, skilled and agricultural workers and the unemployed.
One of the disturbing findings of this analysis was that 65 per cent of the disputes occurred in the presence of children, and of these disputes with children present, 52 per cent were in the presence of children under the age of ten years.
As indicated above, the most frequently cited cause of the disputes (from the responses of the parties involved) was verbal abuse which accounted for 51 per cent of the disputes, followed by harassment in 20 per cent of the incidents and offensive behaviour in 10 per cent of the cases. When the responses of the police officers were analysed, it was found that they considered marital / sexual problems as the cause in 27 per cent of the disputes, followed by verbal argument in 26 per cent, and alcohol in 25 per cent of the incidents. In addition, the police regarded financial / employment issues as the cause in 16 per cent of the disputes.
Nearly 90 per cent of the disputes in the first six months were between parties not currently protected by an Intervention Order, and when asked by the attending police if there was an intention to apply for an Intervention Order, 54 per cent of the victims replied 'no', 21 per cent said 'yes' and 3 per cent replied 'possibly'.
The researchers also noted a very small number of recorded breaches, namely 47 over this six-month period.
In nearly 90 per cent of the disputes analysed, no charges were laid at the time the forms were filled in, and in addition to the above statistic, in 72 per cent of the disputes the police responded with 'no police action', or in other words, were apparently not intending to issue a warrant, to arrest, summons or prepare a brief in relation to the incident. For example, where assault was perceived to be the cause of the dispute, less than half (41 per cent) of these cases resulted in a charge being laid against the offender. To contribute more detail to this finding, those disputes which were caused by assault, where personal violence was reported, and where at least one charge was laid, the total number of such cases was 81 (or 3 per cent of the total). Yet there appeared to be a trend in relation to the presence of alcohol - that is, of those 353 disputes which led to charges being laid, 59 per cent of them had alcohol present - it might be assumed, therefore, that when the police believed alcohol to be present, it is highly likely that they will also press charges, even though 84 per cent of the disputes in which no charges were laid also contained personal violence.
Unemployed offenders were the most likely to be arrested out of the different occupational groupings with an arrest rate of 33 per cent of the total number of arrests made, followed by those offenders in basic manual jobs (18 per cent of the total arrests). It is noted that in relation to 'no police action', those offenders least likely to experience police action were from the professional group followed by those offenders in the managerial group - in other words, 82 per cent of the professional and 77 per cent of the managerial offenders received 'no police action'.
Thus police action following the presence of violence was, according to the material available to us, very limited. When the researchers analysed the reasons police would offer for lack of action, certain attitudes prevailed - for example, in 17 per cent of the disputes they felt there was 'insufficient evidence', and 'no offence disclosed'. In 17 per cent of the cases, it was stated that the victim was unwilling to proceed.
This report reflects the first six months of the operation of the legislation. Another sample of 3,211 Family Incident Report forms is being undertaken for the equivalent period (December through May) of 1989-90.
Report title: Aboriginal Women and Violence / Audrey Bolger (PDF 2.2MB)
Grantees: Dr Peter Loveday
Criminology Research Council grant ; (22/88)
The final report resulting from this research was published by NARU early in 1991 and is entitled Aboriginal Women and Violence. During the course of the research information was sought from Aboriginal women throughout the Northern Territory about their experiences of violence. Visits were made to four communities in Central Australia and four in the Top End. In addition, women in two camps, and in Darwin, Alice Springs and Tennant Creek were contacted. Wherever possible information was also sought from Aboriginal men.
Other sources of data were the various public sector agencies, government and non-government, Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal, concerned in some way with violence against women and its consequences. Interviews were conducted with employees and records were perused. Numerical data were scarce but some statistics were available from Northern Territory Government sources such as the police, courts and prisons and from hospitals and clinics as well as from non-government sources such as women's refuges.
It was found that Aboriginal women constituted only 11 per cent of the total population in the Northern Territory yet in 1987 they were the victims in 44 per cent of homicides. They were also disproportionately represented in police statistics of victims of assault and in health statistics of hospitalisation for injury due to assault.
Violence against women, particularly domestic violence, has been found to be prevalent in Australia and the experiences of Aboriginal women appeared in many ways to be similar to those of non-Aboriginal women. However far more Aboriginal women were victims of assault and the perpetrators, the majority of whom were Aboriginal men, included family members other than a spouse. Also weapons were used in more than 50 per cent of cases which appeared to be much higher than in cases of assaults on non-Aboriginal women.
The report stated that the reasons for the violence were in many cases similar to those found in other research concerning non-Aboriginal women. However, issues of alienation and poverty brought about by colonisation have to be considered in the case of violence against Aboriginal women and Aboriginal people themselves were unequivocal in citing alcohol as the principal contributor. They were also adamant that the violence experienced today had no counterpart in traditional society although cultural factors are often canvassed in defence of assaults against women. As one woman remarked: 'There are now three kinds of violence in Aboriginal society - alcoholic violence, traditional violence, and bulls hit traditional violence'. Women are victims of all three.
The attitudes of many public sector employees were found to be an important factor in affecting the assistance they offered to Aboriginal women who had been assaulted. Many held similar ambivalent ideas as have been found in the population at large concerning domestic violence and this affected their willingness to intervene. But in addition many believed that violence by men against women was sanctioned in Aboriginal traditional culture. These attitudes conditioned the actions of the police in responding to calls for assistance and of the courts in dealing with the perpetrators. Another inhibitor of effective action was the lack of coordination of the services of the various agencies dealing with violence.
It was found that Aboriginal women were becoming increasingly alarmed about the violence and the effect it was having on them and on their children. While the preference was still to seek help from appropriate relatives more women were seeking help from police and courts and many were going to women's refuges. However, alternative strategies were also being tried, such as community patrols or women's groups operating their own safe houses in communities. The need to find solutions to the alcohol problem was also high on the agenda.
It was recommended that Aboriginal people should be given every encouragement and assistance necessary to deal with violence, without impinging on their autonomy. However, it was also recommended that public sector agencies should develop coordinated policies for assisting Aboriginal women and ensure that these were carried out by employees. A further recommendation was that employees should be trained to recognise and deal with violence against women and particularly to understand the special situation of Aboriginal women. It was considered that a crucial factor for the success of any strategies was the employment of more Aboriginal women and improved consultation with Aboriginal people.
Defining acceptable tax conduct: the role of professional advisers in tax compliance avoidance and minimization in Australia
Report titles: Defining Acceptable Tax Conduct: The Role of Professional Advisers in Tax Compliance (PDF 3.4MB); Defining Acceptable Tax Conduct: The Role of Professional Advisers in Tax Compliance, Discussion Paper No. 2/1990 / R. Tomasic and B. Pentony, University of Canberra; Taxation Law Compliance and The Role of Professional Tax Advisers / R. Tomasic and B. Pentony, ANZ Journal of Criminology, vol. 24, Dec. 1991, pp. 241-57; and Tax Compliance and the Rule of Law: From Legalism to Administrative Procedure / R. Tomasic and B. Pentony, Australian Tax Forum, vol. 8, 1991, pp. 85-116
Grantees: Prof Roman Tomasic and Brendan Pentony
Criminology Research Council grant ; (6/89)
The report observed that tax practitioners playa pivotal role in the Australian taxation system. Not only do they act as intermediaries between the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) and the majority of taxpayers, especially business taxpayers, but they also influence the ethical climate and level of compliance with taxation laws. The report discusses this role by reference to data derived from an empirical study of tax practitioners and tax officials from around Australia. The study sheds light on the nature of the compliance problem and the factors which affect the administration of Australian taxation law generally.
The survey involved interviews of a total of 141 persons actively engaged in the tax field. This figure included 75 tax accountants in firms of different sizes, 33 solicitors generally in large to medium practices and 33 ATO officers in the National Office and in 11 branch offices in six cities.
In the view of tax professionals, the level of compliance in relation to taxation laws, or obedience to the law, improved considerably during the 1980s. How extensive that improvement is cannot be adequately measured. If there is a weakness in the knowledge of the revenue authorities, it is that they do not have an accurate measure of how much revenue is lost to non-compliance. The black economy is a black hole - estimates of its scale vary widely and ideas of how to combat it through the income taxation system are scarce. Losses through off-shore transactions are also difficult to measure. Notwithstanding the lack of quantification, it is agreed on all sides that attitudes to compliance have undergone a significant change. Many factors have contributed to that change and many of those factors are inter-connected.
At the practitioner level, the anti-ATO aggression of the 1970s has been replaced by a closer, more professionally courteous relationship. The accounting profession has been anxious to overcome the stain suffered as a legacy of the tax avoidance era. Practitioners are under pressure from their clients and the ATO. Clients, for the most part now understand that tax advisers cannot work miracles. They are more realistic about their tax options and commercial attitudes but they still expect that accountants will provide the best possible service and will control the cost of taxation as much as possible. Accountants understand that their primary professional responsibility is to their clients. The ATO has successfully impressed upon taxpayers that there is no real advantage in taxation fraud or artificial transactions. Clients expect accountants to do whatever is necessary for them to comply. In this respect the accountants are forced into a relationship, not of partnership but more of interdependence with the ATO. Both, parties are working, for different reasons, towards similar objectives. There is little doubt that a large measure of the improvement in compliance can be traced to this coincidence of interests. In dealing with clients the accounting profession has, it seems, taken the view that in the long run compliance is the wiser option.
Even though the ATO is very powerful in the sense that it can confidently expect that the system will be altered to suit its goals, it is very dependent on the professional practitioners. Practitioners process approximately 66 per cent of the tax returns lodged and they submit themselves to the discipline of the lodgement program. A breakdown in the profession's commitment to compliance would have adverse effects on the way in which the taxation system operates. For these reasons it is appropriate for the ATO to pay more attention to practitioners through the provision of better service, more consultation and less aggression.
The courts have played a significant role in the emergence of a more compliant culture. They have been perceived by the profession as being more purposive in their interpretation of the law and less tolerant of transactions that have no commercial integrity. The role of the courts has been a decisive factor in the compliance process. Whereas in the tax avoidance era the High Court was perceived as encouraging tax avoidance, the modern judicial approach to taxation law has had a similar impact but in an entirely different direction.
The ATO describes its goal as voluntary compliance. In the taxation context it would be reasonable to say that most taxpayers have no detailed understanding of the law and for a high proportion of them the services of a practitioner are necessary. It is however significant to note that professional advisers have serious misgivings about the law. The complexity, the lack of certainty and the frequent changes to the law contribute to a climate of serious uneasiness among practitioners, even those in the major firms. Practitioners refer to a real risk of inadvertent non-compliance. Small practitioners express a desire to leave the field because of its complexity; medium size firms seek second opinions; and the large firms warn of problems that will emerge in ten years' time. The ATO, it is said, is in a similar state of ignorance about new laws but it seeks to guide the profession by way of its rulings.
The improvement of compliance levels has been achieved by a combination of administrative and social means. The study found that the ATO needs to develop appropriate ways of measuring the level of compliance and the effectiveness of its strategies. In this respect there is considerable scope for research and consultant services. It needs also to pay attention to the professions to ensure that their goodwill is preserved and that the major role they play in maintaining the taxation system is respected.
Report title: Research Report: Delinquency, A Failure in Language Coping? (PDF 10.81MB)
Grantees: Dr Patricia F Brown
Criminology Research Council grant ; (12/82)
The report of this research is entitled 'Research Report: Delinquency, A Failure in Language Coping?' by Dr Patricia Brown. The study was an investigation into whether the verbal difficulties of adjudicated delinquents may be considered a function of their social-class membership or whether these difficulties can be related to the process of delinquency itself.
To guide the study, the findings from a number of different areas of psychological research were considered, and a model of 'thoughtless' delinquency was developed. The model linked the occurrence of delinquency to a motivational problem with language whereby the young person, on the basis of early negative experiences, may have learned defensively to close off in interpersonal words / verbal thought situations. As a result, the quality of language knowledge and use could be affected. Also, because the flow of verbal thought might be interfered with, there could be a truncating of plans related to verbal interpersonal problem solution which, if occurring frequently, could lead to delinquency. Within this theory, social-class membership was seen as having a secondary role in relation to language coping deficits which might occur.
Three segments of this theory were tested in the study. First, whether there is more limited motivation to deal with language and a predilection for action rather than words on the part of delinquents as compared with non-delinquents; second, whether there is a problem with language processing and expression for delinquents in comparison with non-delinquents, and whether the language expression of delinquents is further exacerbated or attenuated by social-class membership; and third, whether a disruptive effect of language inhibition on planning in verbal inter-personal situations might be inferred from a difficulty in interpersonal cognitive problem solving for delinquents compared with non-delinquents.
The sample of 189 subjects tested comprised adjudicated delinquents and non-delinquents from working class and from middle class, the delinquents being further subdivided into institutional, probation, and police-cautioned groups. Tests administered were varied on verbal, interpersonal, and planful dimensions, and their opposites, an attitude to language test and a picture-vocabulary test being additionally given.
The results demonstrated that the language coping profile related to delinquent status was different from that obtained on the basis of social class. The profile for delinquent-status groups was consistent with a motivational problem in the use of language for delinquents rather than any deprivation in access to it, while that for social class suggested more limited educational and cultural opportunity for the working class. Compared with non-delinquents and irrespective of social class, delinquents were found not to like the use of language as much, did not think it as important, and liked movement activities more. This was construed as a more limited motivation to approach language, and as a preference for action. Also, irrespective of social class, delinquents had more limited vocabulary knowledge, so the quality of their language interchanges would be poorer than that of non-delinquents.
On the other hand, a broader spectrum of comparative language difficulties was found to be attributable to social class than to delinquent status, the working class, in addition to showing poorer vocabulary knowledge than the middle class, also using a more limited amount of and less complex speech, these latter differences not being in evidence for delinquent groups compared with non-delinquents. Moreover, no one individual language problem evidenced by delinquents was exacerbated once social class was taken into account. However, since evidence was reported to suggest that the majority of adjudicated delinquents come from the working class, and the working class in this study showed a range of comparative language difficulties, the likely most frequent presentation of delinquents to the courts and to police would constitute an amalgam of the two profiles: adjudicated delinquents would, in the main, be poorly motivated towards language and prefer movement, would have some limitation in vocabulary, and use fewer words and less complex speech constructions than non-delinquents. This comparative limitation in language efficacy by adjudicated delinquents has a singularly important implication for strategies of remediation: therapeutic interventions that are fairly exclusively reliant on language would be contraindicated.
In the search for a link between language-coping characteristics and delinquent process, no explicit evidence was found. No disruptions to the planning process were evident on the interpersonal verbal planning task employed, which focused on the ability to produce steps to problem solution. However, a finding of significantly less frequent introspection, evidence of thinking before action or segments of action, by delinquents compared with controls, was interpreted as a possible manifestation of a 'no thought' strategy by delinquents, when engaged in verbal inter-personal problem solving. It was argued that this less frequent introspection could potentially affect the quality of the solution chosen as compared with the sequential steps taken to solution, as was measured, since perhaps a range of options might then not be considered before a plan of action is embarked on, and the consequences of actions might not be sufficiently perused, initially. Tests of those aspects of interpersonal problem solving were not used in the study. Further research would be needed to elucidate this finding concerning introspection and whether it might constitute a link to the process of 'thoughtless' delinquency.
In terms of the theory proposed, two of the three components tested received some support, an adequate test of the third being ultimately lacking. Revisions to the theory were forced by the research findings. However, it was considered that with incorporation of the revisions specified, the theory would remain a useful model from which to pursue questions posed by the outcomes of the study.