Skip to start of content

HomeReports → 1981-1982

CRC funded reports


The Council received reports from 15 completed research projects during the year 1981-82. 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. Public attitudes to various types of criminal behaviour
  2. Evaluation of the Sydney drink-driver rehabilitation program
  3. Minor sexual offences in Australia
  4. Literature review on recidivism
  5. Sentencing in the lower courts: a statistical analysis
  6. Forensic implications of the development of maggots in cadavers
  7. Tourism and crime
  8. The welfare role of the police with respect to family problems
  9. A survey of juvenile offenders, Queensland
  10. Psychological, social and biological origins and control of aggressive and violent behaviour
  11. Evaluation of community treatment programs for delinquent youths in Victoria
  12. A manpower analysis of police recruitment and retention
  13. Recidivist prisoners and their families
  14. Women charged and convicted of homicide offences in New South Wales
  15. The development of a quantitative measure of the fear of crime

Public attitudes to various types of criminal behaviour

Report title: Public Attitudes to Various Types of Criminal Activity
Grantees: Dr A.A. Landauer, Senior Lecturer, Department of Psychology, University of Western Australia, and Dr D.A. Pocock, Forensic Pathologist, Queen Elizabeth II Medical Centre, Perth
Criminology Research Council grant ; (4/77)

The researchers conducting this project developed a technique for assessing the seriousness of offences using a questionnaire which asked respondents to indicate their views of a series of anecdotes which portrayed various types of criminal behaviour. The questionnaire was submitted to relatively large samples of the population and was found to produce more reliable estimates of seriousness than other techniques. The results of this research have been presented to many conferences and seminars and have also provided the basis for three articles in scholarly journals. The citation details of these articles are:

In these studies the researchers examined the way in which three different populations of respondents judge the severity of a drunken driving offence in which no personal injury was caused and where property damage was relatively small (i.e. below $250). Except for lawyers, who tended to pay more attention to property offences, most raters awarded relatively harsh penalties to the drunken driver. In one study in which the judgments of men convicted of drunken driving offences were contrasted with judgments from a control group which consisted of men who had no previous conviction for drunken driving, it was found that respondents who had a conviction for drunken driving rated this offence as significantly less severe than those who had no such previous conviction. It appears that men convicted of a drunken driving charge considered this offence to be less serious than men not so convicted.

The results of the investigation did not show whether this change in attitude was taken by offenders so as to minimize their feelings of guilt, or whether it was due to the offenders' belief that the offence of drunken driving was not considered to be serious.

Evaluation of the Sydney drink-driver rehabilitation program

Report titles: The Sydney Drink-Driver Rehabilitation Scheme: A First Report; The Sydney Drink-Driver Rehabilitation Programme: An Evaluation of the Pilot Scheme 1976, Research Report 10, Department of the Attorney General & of Justice NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research
Grantees: This project was originally funded in 1976 with a grant to Mr M Farquhar, then Chairman of the Bench of Stipendiary Magistrates in New South Wales. The research was later terminated by the Council and subsequently completed by the New South Wales Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research
Criminology Research Council grant ; (26/75)

The study evaluated the pilot phase of the Sydney Drink-Driver Rehabilitation Program which commenced in 1976. Drink-drive offenders (a) with a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.15 or above or (b) with at least one prior drink-drive conviction, were given the option in the four 'pilot' courts to attend an eight-week rehabilitation course prior to final sentencing.

The entrants had a higher drink-drive reconviction rate than control groups in a two-year follow-up period. Data analysis indicated that this was due to the 'high-risk' nature of the entrants compared with the control groups, rather than the failure of the program. Also, given the voluntary nature of the scheme, there were probably subjective factors at work which had the effect of selecting the 'worse risk' offenders for the program. And to the extent that entrants saw the scheme primarily as a means of getting a lighter sentence, this would have been contrary to the sort of attitude required for effective treatment. Data on 'time to first drink-drive reconviction' showed that reconvictions among the entrants were postponed the longest of all the groups, providing the strongest evidence that the scheme did have an effective deterrent impact on the entrants.

The conclusion is sceptical: the study established neither the failure, nor the success of the program. Among the research implications were the need to join the treatment program and the evaluation process together, so as to investigate the overriding issue of 'what kind of treatment is most suited to what kind of person under which particular circumstances'; and the need to go beyond recorded convictions, and attempt to investigate other possible effects of the program which could provide a basis for assessment, such as changes in attitudes or practices related to drink-driving.

In policy terms the study found that the question of the program's future may have to be resolved on the basis of which side bears the onus of proof. But the scheme has provided a facility within the criminal justice system to help deal with the drink-driving problem, and continued efforts to attack the problem will require experimenting with combinations of all the available counter-measures.

Minor sexual offences in Australia

Report title: Trends in the Reporting of Minor Sexual Offences in Australia and Overseas (PDF 2.3MB)
Grantee: Dr J.H. Court, Senior Lecturer in Psychology, School of Social Sciences, Flinders University of South Australia
Criminology Research Council grant ; (1/80)

This research represents a response to a research note by David Biles in 1979 which raised important questions both about trends in minor sex offence reports, and whether these are in any way related to the circulation of pornography. It was necessary first to distinguish between two prior claims which appeared to be in conflict. The Danish work of Kutchinsky showed a decline in minor sex offences with the liberalisation of pornography in Denmark, while Court claimed an increase in major sex offences in Australia.

Efforts to determine trends for minor sex offences in Australia proved very disappointing due to the serious lack of uniformity across States about such basic issues as categories of offence. Comparisons were therefore confined to a single State, South Australia, for the period 1960-78 with an annotation of legislative changes affecting reporting patterns. Because of the difficulty of knowing whether Australian trends were meaningful or merely a function of unknown error terms, the trends for other countries were compared, in particular for England and Wales, and for New Zealand. Consistently it was found that when all minor offence data were pooled, the total reports rose from the early sixties to the early seventies only to fall to a level little different from the sixties. Where there have been indications of a steep decline in minor offence reports, a large part of this decline relates to reductions in reports of carnal knowledge, which reduction reflects a change in public attitudes to reporting rather than a reduction in the behaviour.

Biles had hypothesised an association between minor sex offence rates and pornography and found no evidence to support this. The present work similarly fails to support that hypothesis. The relationship between minor sexual offences and rape was then explored together with the possible linkage between rape reports and those of non-sexual violence against persons. For these comparisons, data from the various States were available. Great variability within and between States was found such that no consistent relationship emerged between report rates of serious assaults and those for rape. A clear difference did emerge between rape rates for South Australia (increasing steeply) and for Queensland (no increase).

Finally, in an attempt to make some sense of the evidence from several sources of increasing reports of sexual violence occurring concurrently with a decrease in minor sex offence reports, a conceptual model was proposed. The essence of this was to take account of changes in the degree to which sexual behaviour is subject to legal measures, and the question of coercion. It was argued that with a small shift in the acceptance of coercion but a larger reduction in the involvement of the law, one can account for the observation of these two opposite trends. Hence the earlier reports of Kutchinsky and Court, presented by Biles as contradictory, may be better understood as paradoxical but complementary.

Literature review on recidivism

Report title: Recidivism Review (PDF 3.3MB)
Grantee: Ms Inge Riebe, a Ph.D. student at the Australian National University, Canberra
Criminology Research Council grant ; (4(I)/81)

The report prepared by Ms Riebe reviews most of the Australian research on recidivism and also cites a number of overseas studies. The writer also presents her views on methodological issues to be considered in the conduct of future research of this topic.

This review has been used as background material by a steering committee established by the Conference of Ministers in Charge of Prisons, Probation and Parole which is responsible for advising on future research in this area.

Sentencing in the lower courts: a statistical analysis

Report title: Sentencing the Drinking Driver: A Statistical Analysis of Court Records in New South Wales
Grantee: Mr R.J. Homel, Lecturer, School of Behavioural Sciences, Macquarie University, New South Wales
Criminology Research Council grant ; (20/75)

This study was based on information derived from the court records of 14,311 offenders convicted of driving with above the prescribed concentration of alcohol (PCA) in New South Wales in 1976. The general aim of the research was to develop a set of statistical models which could be used as a basis for explaining the sentencing process.

It was found that there were variations in penalties from court to court which were not explicable in terms of variations in offender or offence characteristics. The evidence therefore points to the existence of disparities between magistrates. Although it is possible to classify magistrates according to their general degree of toughness or leniency, a more efficient classification involves, in addition, the notions of individualisation of penalty through the use of restricted licences and the notion of a tariff approach which attempts to scale the punishment to the perceived seriousness of the crime. In more concrete terms, the aspects of the penalty which most clearly illustrated these disparities were the level at which they set fines, the use of restricted licences, the use of bonds and the relative balance of fine and disqualification period.

Secondly, it was found that extra-legal factors, particularly age and occupational status, exerted an influence on the penalty over and above the contribution of factors such as previous convictions and blood alcohol count. Age effects were not a simple reflection of driving experience, and the very young (18 and 19 year old offenders) received particularly severe penalties. The youngest offenders were at greater risk of going to prison or receiving a bond, and also received longer disqualification periods and heavier fines. Offenders not in the workforce, particularly the unemployed and those classified as pensioners, were penalised more severely than those in the workforce, while the occupational status of the employed was inversely related to penalty severity. The small number of professional status offenders received particularly light penalties.

Previous DUI convictions emerged as the single most important determinant of penalty severity (followed closely by the magistrate) but the effect of previous convictions varied to some extent with the age and occupational status of the offender. Thus, for example, variations in penalties between status groups was less marked for second offenders than for first offenders. Surprisingly, BAC exerted a relatively minor influence on the penalty, despite the fact that it is widely regarded as an objective indicator of offence seriousness.

Legal representation emerged as a minor but significant factor in the determination of most aspects of the penalty. Representation was a significant factor both in the statistical sense and in the sense that it made a real difference to the penalty received. For example, unrepresented offenders received disqualification periods up to 50 per cent longer than those imposed on represented offenders. However, there was an important interaction between representation and magistrate, with tough magistrates apparently being more influenced by a solicitor than lenient magistrates.

The representation/magistrate interaction illustrates perhaps the most theoretically interesting finding of the analysis: that magistrate sentencing style has an influence not only in its own right but also an influence on how other factors, particularly previous DUI convictions, are perceived and weighted in the determination of a penalty. Thus, for example, there was a bigger difference between lenient and tough magistrates for first offenders than for second offenders. As a second example, tough magistrates were particularly harsh on 18 year old offenders, while among lenient magistrates there was little difference in their treatment of offenders in the 18-22 year old age range.

The full results of this research are to be published in the form of a book.

Forensic implications of the development of maggots in cadavers

Report title: Final Report on Studies of Blowflies
Grantee: Professor T .0. Browning, Waite Professor of Entomology, Waite Agricultural Research Institute, South Australia
Criminology Research Council grant ; (2/78)

This research, conducted by Ms Beryl Morris, was based on the fact that flies are known to be one of the first visitors to carcases and cadavers. They lay eggs on or in the carrion and the larvae develop through three growth stages before leaving the carcase in order to pupate. Entomologists have used the developmental stage of the maggots, the state of decomposition of the carcase and the presence of other arthropods to provide information on the time which has elapsed since death of human cadavers.

Using this grant studies have examined the influence of seasonal abundance, geographical distribution, rates of development, identification of larval stages and temperatures in carcases. This research is continuing and its practical application to forensic scientists has yet to be established.

Tourism and crime

Report title: Tourism and Crime (PDF 5MB)
Grantees: Dr D.J. Walmsley, Senior Lecturer, Mr R.M. Boskovic, Chief Cartographer, and Dr J.J. Pigram, Senior Lecturer, Geography Department, University of New England, New South Wales
Criminology Research Council grant ; (13/80)

This research looked at the impact of tourism on crime on the North Coast of New South Wales between 1971 and 1979, using computer records of serious crime and crime information reports, occurrence pad entries, traffic accident reports, and charge books kept at three tourist resorts (Tweed Heads, Ballina, Port Macquarie) and three 'control' towns not noted for their tourist activity (Kyogle, Casino, Wauchope). There were a number of significant results.

Serious crime increased by about 91 per cent between 1971 and 1979. The highest increases were for drug offences (1405%) and offences against the person (404%) and the lowest for sexual offences (1 %). After allowing for population increase, the real growth rate for all other serious crime was between 2 per cent and 6 per cent per annum.

Relative to the rest of non-metropolitan New South Wales, the North Coast had a low per capita incidence of offences against the person, property breaking, and false pretences but a high incidence of drug offences. However the crime rate on the North Coast is increasing more rapidly than the rate in the rest of non-metropolitan New South Wales.

In tourist resorts the peak of crime information reports tended to coincide with holiday periods (especially in summer) and often involved an increase in workload of between 100 per cent and 200 per cent. In non-tourist areas the peak incidence for crime information reports was spread more throughout the year but was no less intense in its magnitude. Traffic accident reports showed a summer bias in tourist and non-tourist areas alike.

A sample of 1728 crime information reports from Tweed Heads, Ballina, Kyogle, Casino, and Port Macquarie (which included Wauchope records) showed that almost half (49.5%) of all the offences committed were in the category described in the draft national classification of offences as 'other theft'. A further 16.3 per cent of offences concerned breaking and entering, 9.9 per cent drug offences, and 6.8 per cent property damage. All other offences accounted for less than 5 per cent of total crime.

Victims were characteristically middle class, adult males. Offenders were overwhelmingly male (88%), mainly local residents (60%) and generally under 25 (67%). The highest incidence of crime was in January and the lowest incidence in July, with a steady progression between these two extremes. About 40 per cent of crimes were committed at night.

When data for the tourist centres and the 'control' towns were pooled to form two groups, statistical tests showed that, relative to the 'control' towns, tourist centres had significantly fewer sexual offences and drug offences and significantly more 'other thefts' and breaking and entering offences. Tourist areas also had significantly more offences committed in daytime, more local residents among the victims, and victims of generally higher socio-economic status than was the case in non-tourist areas. Likewise, relative to the 'control' towns, tourist areas had significantly more crimes committed by locals and fewer committed by individuals under 18 years of age.

In tourist areas it also took significantly longer to apprehend an offender.

Crime distribution maps pointed to the prominence of business districts, beaches and a few housing estates as areas where the incidence of crime is particularly high. However, such was the variability in the data and the resultant patterns that it was impossible to talk in terms of criminogenic environments. In consequence, there are no obvious environmental design measures that can be suggested in order to mitigate the crime rate. What seems to be needed is a greater emphasis on security generally, particularly in view of the fact that 28 per cent of offences in the 'other theft' category involved losses from parked cars. Such a security drive may however conflict with the promotion of tourism insofar as knowledge of the prevalence of crime may inhibit potential tourists from visiting an area.

The welfare role of the police with respect to family problems

Report titles: At the Crossroads? The Function of Police Women in Victoria (Interim report); Report of Completed Research [Summary]; Policewomen and Welfare 2 vols (PhD thesis), The University of Melbourne, 1981.
Grantee: Dr L.E. Foreman, Lecturer, Criminology Department, University of Melbourne
Criminology Research Council grant ; (17/76)

The interim report entitled 'At the Crossroads? The Functions of Policewomen in Victoria' was submitted to the Council in October 1978. The final report of this research was submitted to the University of Melbourne as a Doctor of Philosophy thesis under the title 'Policewomen and Welfare' in 1981. This degree was awarded in 1982 The report comprises two volumes amounting to some 650 pages.

When the study was contemplated very little was known about the multitudinous activities of policewomen in Victoria or what relationships existed between policewomen, the community, statutory and non-statutory organisations within the welfare sector.

It was also anticipated, when the study was commenced in 1976 that equal opportunities legislation would be enacted in Victoria. The question of how this might impact on the social assistance role of policewomen, the implication of any change in their role on police policy and organisation as well as other helping services, were other issues which were to be explored.

The research included an examination of:

  1. The nature and extent of the activities of policewomen from 1976 to 1981.
  2. The types of problems coming to their attention and the sources of requests for intervention.
  3. The types of action taken by policewomen to resolve presenting problems.
  4. The socio-economic and cultural characteristics of persons with a range of personal problems seeking the assistance of police.
  5. The structure, organisation and policies prevailing at the police stations from which records were derived and interaction between male and female police with respect to the management of social assistance type cases.
  6. The impact of equal opportunities legislation upon the traditional welfare role of policewomen.
  7. The implications of changes in this role upon police policy and organisation generally as well as social policy planning and implementation.

The first phase of the research was based upon the analysis of records kept by policewomen in seven Women's Police Districts of Metropolitan Melbourne during 1976. This sample of 2,300 cases represented 33.1 per cent of the total case load of policewomen in these Districts. This indicates the extent of their social assistance role. The information obtained from these records was prepared for computer analysis and the results extensively interpreted and discussed in the final report. Certain inter-station comparisons of findings were also included to illustrate the reasons for variations in the types of cases presenting and differing management models. During the second phase of the research, the changing role of policewomen was monitored by a yearly analysis of their records and interviews with police.

The study therefore made a series of recommendations which included:

  1. The abolition of Women's Police Districts comprising policewomen only.
  2. The establishment of Community Welfare (or Assistance) Bureaux, on a District basis comprised of males and females particularly trained to respond to social assistance requests.
  3. The establishment of a Crisis Care Unit funded by Government which would operate, initially in the Metropolitan area, on a twenty-four hour basis.

These recommendations paved the way for policewomen to become fully integrated into the Victoria Police Force. If police were to cease to provide a welfare service, the study shows that there would be a serious gap in community welfare services. Nevertheless, this alone is no justification for continuing to divert police from their major functions of crime prevention and control, to a range of tasks for which they are not trained to cope and the performance of which subsidises the traditional welfare sector.

Since the report was completed in February 1982 the Victoria Police Force have renamed Women Police Divisions. They are now to be called Community Policing Squads. Positions in the Squads will be filled by both males and females and the principal duties of the Squads redefined. The social assistance nature of police work has been partially recognised. Additionally, in April 1982 a Project Officer was appointed, to work from the Department of Community Welfare Services, with a view to designing a program for crisis intervention services with appropriate linkages and referral processes.

A survey of juvenile offenders, Queensland

Report titles: A Survey of Juvenile Offenders, Queensland; Delinquency Survey 'Personal/Social Conditions of Delinquents': Preliminary Report
Grantees: Mr A. Eakin, Research Officer, Department of Children's Services, Queensland, and Mr L Reilly, Social Work Department, University of Queensland
Criminology Research Council grant ; (14/73)

The study was carried out with 174 young people who appeared in the Brisbane Children's Court on a range of antisocial offences. The young people were all of those appearing before the court on the day on which the study was conducted. The children and parents, unless previously interviewed, were invited to participate. The data were obtained by two interviewers, both of whom had professional training and experience in interviewing. They attended almost all sessions of the Brisbane Children's Court throughout the study time period.

The study illustrates the problem of subjective judgments made by researchers and interviewers. The report begins with an explanation of the problem and the procedures developed in an attempt to overcome this.

Some of the major characteristics of this population were:

  1. Their family structure is quite markedly skewed away from the nuclear pattern.
  2. While the young people generally perceived their parents' relationship as satisfactory, they had more than usual difficulties in relating to their parents.
  3. Where criminal behaviour exists in other people in the family home the risk of crime contamination for the child was very high. However, the risk of crime contamination from delinquent peers was equally high.
  4. The young people in this study had uniformly low school achievement records and a high percentage had very poor perceptions of their personal relationships at school. The high frequency of speech defects noted in the study group further complicates school achievements.
  5. The study indicated that only 30 per cent of the young people had a diet which approached a nutritious and balanced one. They also reported a high usage of alcohol and tobacco.
  6. Overall the social relationship patterns reflected a high degree of alienation between them and the community they had lived in.
  7. While emotional support at home was very low for 40 per cent of this population, the girls experienced stronger feelings of rejection at home.
  8. The young people reported a moderately high rate of previous offences (detected and un- detected), mainly in the areas of theft and school truancy.
  9. The interviewers in this study tended to rate the likelihood of further delinquency amongst the young people as much higher than the young people themselves or their parents.

The study generally points to the need for greater resources in the family development area, alternative school programs, and self-development courses for the young people.

Psychological, social and biological origins and control of aggressive and violent behaviour

Report title: Young Violent Offenders
Grantees: Dr T. Vinson, Professor of Social Work, University of New South Wales, and Dr W. Hemphill, Principal Adviser, Maternal and Child Health, Health Commission of New South Wales
Criminology Research Council grant ; (16/74)

The results of this study were first published in the paper read at the Second Austral-Asian Pacific Forensic Sciences Congress held at the University of New South Wales, 20-23 July 1978. The publication of the final report was delayed due to the pressing commitments of the principal researcher.

To test the feasibility of identifying violent offenders a comprehensive study of the medical, social and psychological characteristics of two groups of juvenile offenders was carried out at the Minda Children's Court in Sydney. The study was conducted between mid 1975 and mid 1976. Subjects were identified with the cooperation of court officials and the magistrates presiding over the juvenile courts. Data were collected by means of standard psychological tests, personal interviews and examination by a neurologist. One group of 50 offenders involved cases of violence (mainly robbery, sexual and non-sexual assaults and homicide), while the other group of 50 charged with property offences (mainly break, enter and steal and larceny of motor vehicles). Both groups were in the age range 14 to 18 years.

The most striking impression gained from the comparison of the personal and social attributes of the violent and property offenders was the almost identical profile of the two groups. They were virtually indistinguishable on such factors as age, family size, birth order, school leaving age, word know- ledge, school attendance, school or employment status, parental composition of family, age of separation from parents, country of birth of offender and of parents. Differences were found, however, between the aggregate of both groups and the general community. The offender groups, for example, were found to score significantly lower on tests of intelligence. Also they tended to come from lower social class backgrounds. The clear majority of both groups however were assessed as 'normal' as far as brain dysfunction was concerned.

In summary, this comprehensive analysis of the characteristics of youthful offenders found no support for the belief that there is an identifiable 'violent 10 per cent' who can be distinguished from others and given special treatment appropriate to their needs.

Evaluation of community treatment programs for delinquent youths in Victoria

Report titles: A Methodology for Organisational Analysis (2 vols), Vol. 1 Evaluation of Victorian Juvenile Justice Placements, Vol. 2 Literature survey, by Social Welfare Department, Victoria; Evaluation of Community Treatment Programmes: Resume of Issues and Efforts Relating to the Project
Grantees: J. Martin, J. Murray and J.M. Olijnyk, Department of Community Welfare Services, Victoria
Criminology Research Council grant ; (3/75)

This project involved the development of a methodology for the evaluation of community based treatment programs for adolescent offenders. As such, methodological questions associated with the effectiveness and value of evaluation methods were confronted and traditional assumptions about methodology were questioned.

In this context an experimental approach using random allocation of experimental and control subjects between community based and institutional based services was initially proposed. As the literature was explored and the problems of actually implementing the study were considered, the researchers became aware of difficulties intrinsic to the experimental approach, such as the ethical problems of random allocation in a welfare service, and the problem of controlling variables such as length of stay, community interaction, and program stability in an open system.

It was decided consequently, to develop a methodology for studying the organisation, and as part of that methodology to study the functioning of individual Community Treatment Programs but within the context of the juvenile justice system of Victoria. The document outlining this methodology is entitled 'A Methodology for Organisational Analysis'. This includes: (1) a network analysis of the Juvenile Justice sub-systems in Victoria (i.e., Police, Courts, Social Welfare Department). (2) examples of methodology to estimate costs of processing an individual at different points in the system. (3) development of indicators of progress within each sub-system (i.e., statements of desirable outcomes at different points of intervention within the system).

The synthesis of this material was intended to provide the basis for the decision-making needed in program policy review and formulation. It was not expected to give precise answers but at least to focus clearly on options. The proposal in its present form is seen by the Department as an important basis for studying the system and particular programs within it. As such, it represents substantial progress in the development of an evaluative methodology.

A manpower analysis of police recruitment and retention

Report titles: Police Wages in Australia, Working Paper No. 5, Police Manpower Project; Survey of Australian Police Manpower Project Data: Requirements and Availability; Formal Specification of an Economic Model of Police Recruitment; A Critical Review of Police Manpower Economics; Preliminary Econometric Results from a Stock Model of Police Manpower; Police manpower in Australia: A Summary of Findings; Adjustment in Public Sector Labour Markets: The Case of Police Services (book); 'The Police', Ch. 2 in How Labour Markets Work: Case Studies in Adjustment, Longman Cheshire, Melbourne, 1982.
Grantee: Dr Glenn A. Withers, Principal Economic Adviser, Bureau of Labour Market Research, Canberra
Criminology Research Council grant ; (9/76)

This study examined major manpower trends in the Australian police forces for the 1960s and 1970s. While the picture varied from force to force, the study sought to provide an overview for Australia as a whole since the mid 1960s. Major institutions involved in the police labour market were first defined and characterised and it was concluded that the police manpower system is an unusual one, with a limited number of employers and restricted union activity operating within an arbitral environment and subject to close political scrutiny and that this has had consequences for the level of public security, as will be seen. Police themselves were reviewed using census data and it was seen that the police represent a relatively young, male but less well-educated workforce, with particular per capita concentrations in the Territories and also in South Australia and Tasmania. There is also a disproportionate (and increasing) trades skills representation, and higher incomes than average.

A range of indicators developed demonstrated that there has been an increasing divergence between police requirements and available labour for policing over the period since the mid 1960s. Requirements were established in relation to numbers required for prevailing populations, crime and traffic levels in the mid 1960s and by what has happened to these three factors since that time. Per capita crime levels, in particular, grew significantly over the period, as did traffic. Available labour referred to both existing police strengths and the pool of potential recruits.

Given the background of requirements, trends and supply forces outlined, the actual size and composition of police forces reflected accommodation to those trends and influences. A range of possible adjustments could be and were pursued. An obvious one is wage levels and it was found that police wages have responded a little to the trend divergence of requirements from the available labour pool. By the end of the 1970s police wages had increased more than comparative wages, especially for more senior police. The latter observation could well have been related to a dramatic rise in resignations and retirements in the late 1960s. Nevertheless the relativity changes were basically small.

Recidivist prisoners and their families

Report title: Journal article: 'Recent Life Changes Amongst Recidivist and First Time Prisoners prior to Imprisonment', Karl Koller and Sylvia Gosden, Australian and New Zealand Journal of Criminology, vol. 14, June 1981, pp. 95-102.
Grantee: Dr K.M. Koller, former Medical Commissioner, Mental Health Services Commission, Tasmania
Criminology Research Council grant ; (8/77)

This study, for various reasons, was not completed according to the original proposal approved by the Council. Unexpended funds were returned to the Council. However, two publications emerged from this study dealing with life changes of prisoners and their social networks. In each study recidivists were compared with first time prisoners.

The first study hypothesised that prisoners would report a greater accumulation of recent life changes than non-prisoner controls and this hypothesis was supported by the findings. Differences were also found between recidivists and first time prisoners, with recidivists reporting more life changes and more interpersonal adversity in the previous six months.

In the second study the structural and interactional characteristics of the social networks of first time prisoners and recidivists were studied. First time prisoners showed personal networks where kin and friends were closely tied to each other with multi-stranded links. The recidivist networks were contrasted by size and evidence of a diminution of friendship links. The study offered elaboration and explanations of these findings.

Citation details of these publications are:

'Recent Life Changes Amongst Recidivist and First Time Prisoners Prior to Imprisonment', Australian & New Zealand Journal of Criminology, Vol. 14, June 1981, 95-102.

'Social Networks of Recidivists and First Time Prisoners: Observations in a Tasmanian Prison', Australian & New Zealand Journal of Criminology, Vol. 14, June 1981,103-109.

Women charged and convicted of homicide offences in New South Wales

Report title: Feminist Legal Action Group Report: 'Women Homicide Offenders in NSW'
Grantee: Mrs R.A. Omodei, Tutor and post-graduate research student, Department of Social Work, University of Sydney
Criminology Research Council grant ; (13/78)

This research was co-funded by a matching grant from the Law Foundation of New South Wales. Two researchers were employed to carry out the research. The research was unusual in that data were obtained chiefly from interviews with the convicted women themselves. This information was then compared to and supplemented by a reading of the trial transcript and the solicitor's file on the case, where the woman consented to that course. In some cases the researchers were also able to interview the woman's lawyers.

The final report of the project, a document of 328 pages plus 43 pages of appendices, was submitted to the Council in April 1982. The researchers studied the cases of 35 women convicted of a homicide offence or acquitted of one on the grounds of mental illness. Most of the women were still detained in a gaol or mental hospital when interviewed. The 35 cases included 17 cases where women had killed their husbands or boyfriends, and 13 cases where women, mainly young women from extremely deprived or disturbed backgrounds, had killed or attacked non-family members. These two groups of cases are analysed in most detail. There were only four cases of women who had killed or attacked their own child in the study as a prison sample is biased against such cases.

The researchers found that the cases of women who killed husbands exhibited a striking pattern. Most of these women killed husbands or boyfriends who had beaten them before, often repeatedly over a period of years. They killed them in response to or in fear of yet another assault. The report sets out in detail the account these women gave of their lives with their husbands -the physical and emotional brutality they suffered, the anxiety and fear that trapped them in the marriage, the effects of the violence on their children.

As well as this detailed examination of the background to the homicides the report examines the women's feelings about their legal representation and their experiences in the courtroom. The report calls for greater representation of women by women lawyers and argues that all lawyers, men or women, should attempt to combat sexist attitudes which may damage the woman's case.

The report of the research has already had practical ramifications Legislation to change the law of homicide in New South Wales passed through Parliament in March 1982. The legislation abolishes the mandatory life sentence for murder and removes from the defence of provocation many of the historical anomalies that have limited its applicability to domestic homicides. This reform has been largely the result of extensive public discussion of the cases of women killing violent husbands. This research played a major role in generating and informing the public discussion. As well, the researchers were consulted by the members of the Attorney-General's Department considering proposals for reform and by the Premier's Task Force on domestic violence which in its report dated July 1981 also called for change to the law of homicide to better accommodate domestic homicides.

The development of a quantitative measure of the fear of crime

Report title: The Development of a Quantitative Measure of the Fear of Crime
Grantee: Mr R.W Whitrod, formerly Visiting Fellow, Department of Sociology, Australian National University, Canberra
Criminology Research Council grant ; (5/78)

This study found that the identification of a valid measure of emotional response to frightening stimuli was proving to be fairly elusive. Because of ethical considerations, clinical experimentation tends to be confined to the lower animals. In non-laboratory situations it is difficult to arrange for immediate physiological examinations, and since behaviour change provides at best only part answer, there is growing support for a greater use of introspection reports by subjects.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics 1975 National Crime Victims Survey probed the level of the 'fear of crime' in this country by asking respondents how safe they felt if they were out alone at night walking in their neighbourhood. Publication of the result did not occur until 1979. This release generated a paper by Australian researchers which discussed the relationship of the answers to this question with those to other items in the survey, such as age, sex, locality, unemployment. Presentation of the paper at an international conference later that year was accompanied by a submission from an American scholar which contained well-argued criticisms of this type of survey question.

Apart from the hypothetical form of the question, one major problem was to establish a precise definition of the concept 'fear of crime' as distinct from 'fear of strangers' and from general anxiety. This proved to be difficult. For these reasons a more comprehensive program was adjourned in favour of concentrating on one specific aspect, that was, to seek initially to measure the emotion which is aroused by a subject's perception of a threat by a criminal of imminent physical injury. For this purpose information was gathered on the frequency, intensity and duration of such experiences.

Attention was drawn to four aspects of the subjects' daily programs: while they were at home, while they were in some other place, while travelling between the two, or while they were thinking of the safety of someone emotionally close. They were asked the nature of the threat they actually experienced, what they had done about it, and whom had they told.

To minimise errors due to interviewer bias, the same person conducted all interviews. For this reason the number of subjects had to be restricted to 25. These were selected from those categories who were considered most likely to be able to test the responsiveness of the method of recording high scores, i.e., the elderly, especially females living alone, and others who had already been victims of violent crime.

To reduce errors caused by memory lapses subjects were visited every fortnight. It was found that in the case of elderly subjects their recollection of events could be anchored around pension payments which occur every two weeks. Earlier interviews had shown that subjects were familiar with the principle of thermometer scales to indicate graduations whereas not all seemed to have sufficient command of words to discriminate degrees as well as verbal descriptions. Subjects were therefore asked to indicate the intensity of the feeling of 'fear' they had experienced by pointing to an appropriate spot on a thermometer scale.

Acceptance of the interviewer was readily forthcoming since he was already well known as a person active in the interests of victims of crime. However regular contact could not be maintained with four subjects for reasons associated with their victimizations.

Results at the end of a three month period showed that of the 21 remaining subjects only seven registered as having actually experienced 'fear of crime'. The other 14 consisted of elderly persons mostly living alone, a recent female rape victim, a middle-aged engineer who had been shot and his wife, a young sales girl who had been present at an armed robbery, and the parents of a young girl who had been raped and murdered.

Scoring of results presented difficulties because the three components, duration, intensity, and frequency, ought to be appropriately weighted if a composite total of any meaning is to be achieved. In the absence of any known way of doing this, a crude calculation of time in seconds, x degrees of intensity, x frequency, was used. Using this method, the results were dominated by those subjects who had been the victims of a violent crime and who feared repetition. In the case of those victims whose attacker had been imprisoned it seemed their 'fears' increased as a release date became nearer.

The report represents a statement of progress so far in the endeavour to produce a quantitative measure of the fear of crime. Further research is necessary on almost every stage. For example, little seems to be known about the capacity of individuals to accurately estimate the duration of an incident especially when they are under heavy stress, or to make subsequent judgments of it when asked at a later date. The shape of the 'fear' curve which seemed to be usually a sharp rise followed by a plateau, and then a long decline, presented problems of measurement. More work is required on the validity of the top ranges of the fear thermometer for it may not be able to provide sufficient discrimination to register high levels of emotion.

Even though this project did not fulfil all of its aims, it has had valuable consequences as it led the researcher to establish the South Australian Victims of Crime Service, an organisation which now has counterparts in a number of other jurisdictions.

If you see this message you are probably using an old browser: these pages should be readable, but we recommend updating to a modern browser.