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CRC funded reports

2009/10

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.

  1. Police diversion of young offenders and Indigenous over-representation
  2. Intimate partner abuse of women in the Bowen Basin and Mackay region of Central Queensland
  3. Intrafamilial adolescent sex offenders: psychological factors and treatment issues
  4. Victims' perceptions of the criminality of their assault experiences: Analysis of physical assaults and threats by males captured in the 2005 Personal Safety Survey
  5. The specific deterrent effect of custodial penalties on juvenile reoffending
  6. Improving Jury Understanding and Use of DNA Expert Evidence
  7. Prison-Based Correctional Offender Rehabilitation Programs: The 2009 National Picture in Australia

Police diversion of young offenders and Indigenous over-representation

Troy Allard, Anna Stewart, April Chrzanowski, James Ogilvie, Dan Birks and Simon Little
Criminology Research Council grant ; (15/07-08)

Indigenous overrepresentation in the justice system is a challenge facing Australian society. It has recently been suggested that increased use of diversionary processes could reduce this overrepresentation. Reported in this paper are the findings of a project examining the 1990 offender cohort's contact with the Queensland juvenile justice system. The project focused on the extent of Indigenous over-representation, evidence of disparity in how Indigenous and non-Indigenous young people were processed and the impact of diversion on re-contact with the juvenile system.

Intimate partner abuse of women in the Bowen Basin and Mackay region of Central Queensland

Heather Nancarrow, Stewart Lockie and Sanjay Sharma
Criminology Research Council grant ; (13/06-07)

Intimate partner violence, also referred to as intimate partner abuse, includes all types of physical and non-physical violence and acts of abuse between intimate partners. This study focuses on intimate partner abuse among cohabiting, heterosexual partners living in the Bowen Basin and Mackay region of Central Queensland. Specifically, the study is concerned with the abuse of women by their current marriage or de facto male partners. Due to the particular geographic, economic and cultural characteristics of this region many families are affected by atypical work schedules, periodic separation and isolation. Each of these may be expected to impact on the quality of relationships and, potentially, on the experience of intimate partner abuse.

Intrafamilial adolescent sex offenders: psychological factors and treatment issues

J Grant, D Indermaur, J Thornton, G Stevens, C Chamarette and A Halse
Criminology Research Council grant ; (05/03-04)

This report presents the findings of research designed to enhance our understanding of intrafamilial adolescent sex offenders and their treatment. The literature suggests that multifaceted treatment approaches that include cognitive behavioural, relapse prevention, and family interventions are more effective in reducing relapse than individual therapy alone. Despite this evidence, few family based programs operate in Australia or abroad, and the little available research on these interventions tends to be descriptive rather than evaluative. The present study attempted to bridge this gap.

The research utilised a prospective design, recruiting intrafamilial adolescent sex offenders engaged in a specialised and multifaceted treatment program. The design included the use of both standardised measures of treatment targets, and qualitative data derived from interviews with the offenders and their parents.

The research examined the profile and effect of psychotherapy treatment on 38 intrafamilial adolescent sex offenders attending a community based treatment program. Specifically it examined: 1) levels of psychopathology, coping skills, trauma symptoms, capacity for empathy, psychosexual characteristics, and general psychological symptoms; 2) the profiles of the families of intrafamilial adolescent sex offenders and the influence of the family structure on treatment attrition rates; 3) the value of a community based multifaceted psychotherapy treatment program to intrafamilial adolescent sex offenders; 4) the contribution of a multifaceted psychotherapy treatment program on the functioning of the adolescents' families; 5) the utility of existing typologies of adolescent sex offenders in understanding a community treatment sample of intrafamilial adolescent sex offenders.

The results reaffirmed some aspects of the picture of adolescent sex offenders slowly developing from the literature. For example, half of the study group was diagnosed with some form of psychiatric impairment including, most commonly, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (1 in 4), Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and developmental delay. Almost three in every four (71%) of the study group reported being victims of some form of abuse. Often the adolescent offenders were themselves victims of sexual abuse (47.5%).

Victims' perceptions of the criminality of their assault experiences: Analysis of physical assaults and threats by males captured in the 2005 Personal Safety Survey

Dr Joe Clare & Mr Frank Morgan, University of Western Australia - Crime Research Centre
Criminology Research Council grant ; (12/06-07)

Victimization surveys have been widely adopted since the nineteen seventies and have provided a valuable alternative source of information about the prevalence and incidence of crime. They question the public directly and they gather information about victimization events regardless of whether they have been reported to police. Furthermore, they explore the reasons why events are, or are not, reported. Surveys, therefore, provide one way of investigating the dark figure of crime; defined by Biderman and Reiss (1967: 1) as, 'occurrences that by some criteria are called crime, yet that are not registered in the statistics of whatever agency was the source of data being used.' Recent estimates produced from the British Crime Survey (BCS) suggest that approximately 57 percent of all crime is unreported (Nicholas, Povey, Walker & Kershaw 2005).

Surveys generally find that property offences such as completed breakins and motor vehicle theft are reported to police at a high rate (74% and 90%, respectively, e.g., ABS 2006a). Surprisingly, however, violent victimizations such as robbery, assault, and sexual assault, are less likely to come to police notice. For example, 32 percent of Australian assaults were reported in 1994 (ABS 1995), 28 percent in 1998 (ABS 1999), and 31 percent in both 2002 (ABS 2003) and 2005 (ABS 2006a). Assault victimizations are of particular interest because they are sufficiently numerous to be amenable to analysis and they have a large reporting gap that demands explanation.

The specific deterrent effect of custodial penalties on juvenile reoffending

Don Weatherburn, Sumitra Vignaendra, Andrew McGrath
Criminology Research Council grant ; (02/04-05)

On an average day in 2006-07, 941 young people were held in detention across Australia (AIHW 2008: 51). The costs associated with juvenile detention are very high. For example, although only 10.3 percent of the 6,488 juveniles who appeared in the NSW Children's Court in 2007 were given a control order, 48 percent of the budget of the NSW Department of Juvenile Justice is spent keeping juvenile offenders in custody (NSW Department of Juvenile Justice, personal communication 2009).

Given the high cost of juvenile detention, one would expect to find a large body of Australian research examining its potential benefits. To date, however, little research has been conducted on the effect of custodial sentences on juvenile recidivism. It is known that more than two-thirds of the young people who receive a control order from the NSW Children's Court are convicted of a further offence within two years of their custodial order. It is not known what their reconviction rate would have been had they not received a custodial penalty. This study addresses this issue.

Improving Jury Understanding and Use of DNA Expert Evidence

Professor Jane Goodman-Delahunty, Dr Lindsay Hewson
Criminology Research Council grant ; (05/07-08)

Controversies over how the law should regulate the presentation of expert testimony on DNA forensic science were explored in an experimental study comparing traditional verbal with audiovisual modes of delivery. The study found pre-trial DNA knowledge, as assessed in 3,611 jury-eligible Australians, was limited. However, showing jury members an expert tutorial on DNA profiling evidence significantly improved their DNA knowledge. This paper discusses these results and the procedures that could be adopted by courts and policymakers to enhance justice in criminal cases in which DNA is introduced.

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