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HomeReports → 2013-2014

CRC funded reports

2013/14

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. Grant 02/11-12: Bonds, suspended sentences and re-offending: Does the length of the order matter?
  2. Grant 48/10-11: Community variations in hoax calls and suspicious fires: Geographic, temporal and socio-economic dimensions and trajectories
  3. Grant 26/08-09: Developing successful diversionary schemes for youth from remote Aboriginal communities
  4. Grant 44/10-11: Reoffence risk in intrafamilial child sex offenders

  5. Grant 35/11-12: Using evidence to evaluate Australian Drug Trafficking Thresholds: Proportionate, Equitable and Just?

Grant 02/11-12: Bonds, suspended sentences and re-offending: Does the length of the order matter?

Suzanne Poynton and Don Weatherburn

Criminology Research Grant: CRG 02/11-12

This study used propensity score matching techniques to examine whether long good behaviour bonds and suspended sentences are more effective than short bonds and suspended sentences in reducing re-offending. Using data from all appearances finalised in the NSW Local Court between 2006 and 2008, rates of re-offending among offenders who received a bond of 24 months or more were compared with rates of re-offending among a matched group of offenders who received a bond of less than 24 months. Re-offending outcomes for offenders who received a suspended sentence of 12 months or more were also compared with a matched group of offenders who received a suspended sentence of less than 12 months. After adjusting for other factors, the probability of reconviction and the time to reconviction were found to be lower for offenders placed on bonds of 24 months or longer compared with offenders placed on shorter bonds. A significant effect of bond length on reoffending was apparent for both supervised and unsupervised orders. The probability of reconviction and the time to reconviction were also lower for offenders given long (12 month plus) suspended sentences compared with offenders given short suspended sentences, after adjusting for other factors. No significant effect of suspended sentence length was found when supervised and unsupervised suspended sentences were analysed separately. These results suggest that long bonds and long suspended sentences are more effective in reducing re-offending than short bonds and short suspended sentences.

Grant 48/10-11: Community variations in hoax calls and suspicious fires: Geographic, temporal and socio-economic dimensions and trajectories

Corcoran, Townsley, Wickes, McGee, Zahnow, Li

Criminology Research Grant: CRG 48/10-11

Both Malicious hoax calls and suspicious fires are a significant burden to the community, financially and in the potential danger they present, yet little is known about the dynamics associated with their prevalence.  This research comprehensively examined these offences using unit-level location data supplied by the Queensland Fire and Rescue Service. The research applied a suite of advanced geographically orientated methods of visualisation and spatially based temporal modelling to provide critical information regarding the persistent, transient and emergent nature of hotspots of these offences which can now be used to guide optimal resource allocation in anticipation of likely load. The evidence base generated by this research enhances our understanding of the patterning of these offences providing the necessary foundation for future crime prevention activities.

Grant 26/08-09: Developing successful diversionary schemes for youth from remote Aboriginal communities

Teresa Cunningham, Bill Ivory, Richard Chenhall, Rachael McMahon and Kate Senior

Criminology Research Grant: CRG 26/08-09

The proliferation of gangs in the Wadeye community has become a primary focus for outsiders’ interpretation of social issues in the community. These gangs have been defined by their violent and oppositional cultures. This period of research and the research which preceded it, emphasise the complexity of gang cultures and gang dynamics in this community. The report also emphasises that a primary focus on gangs serves to obscure other factors influencing young people’s lives and behaviours. This includes those youth who do not engage in deviant behaviour, who attend school and progress to employment. It also includes youth who engage in non-gang related violent and anti-social behaviour. The report argues that effective service delivery and the development of appropriate diversion activities for young people must recognise the diversity and complexity of the youth experience in the community and recognise and develop their current strengths.

Grant 44/10-11: Reoffence risk in intrafamilial child sex offenders

Jane Goodman-Delahunty

Criminology Research Grant: CRG 44/10-11

Child sexual abuse has enduring and potentially devastating effects for victims and families. The absence of comprehensive research on core subtypes of child sexual offenders has precluded understanding about the specific risk profile and treatment needs of intrafamilial offenders. The findings in this report show that parental offenders can be distinguished from other intrafamilial sexual offenders and that they have unique characteristics and criminogenic needs. The outcomes of the current study have important implications for states and legislatures examining alternative methods to prosecute child sex offenders, most notably that diversion into community-based treatment was more effective at reducing recidivism among low risk parental offenders than standard criminal prosecution. In addition, the research suggests that utilising risk assessment instruments that include dynamic factors (e.g. the Violent Risk Scale: Sexual Offender version) can enhance screening and selection of offenders eligible for diversion, by identifying level of risk as well as the likelihood that a particular offender will comply with and complete treatment. By improving the ability to predict completion of a community-based program and identify offenders who will receive the greatest benefit from treatment, this report contributes to a more-informed allocation of resources in the rehabilitation of child sex offenders.

Grant 35/11-12: Using evidence to evaluate Australian Drug Trafficking Thresholds: Proportionate, Equitable and Just?

Hughes, Ritter, Cowdery, Phillips
Criminology Research Grant: CRG 35/11-12

All Australian states and territories have adopted legal threshold quantities for drug trafficking, over which possession of an illicit drug is deemed “trafficking” as opposed to “personal use”. Yet, the capacity of these thresholds to deliver proportional, equitable and just sanctioning of drug offenders, including the capacity to appropriately distinguish drug users from traffickers, has been rarely examined. In 2010 Hughes and Ritter put forward the first set of evidence-informed metrics for evaluating drug trafficking threshold design. Application to one Australian setting (the Australian Capital Territory) showed that the thresholds placed some users at risk of unjustified charge and conviction for trafficking. In this study we extended the previous analysis to evaluate and compare and contrast the trafficable thresholds throughout six Australian states: NSW, Victoria, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania and Western Australia. For each state we evaluated the applicable trafficable threshold quantity against two metrics of the quantity of a drug that a user is likely to possess for personal use alone: using Australian data on patterns of use and purchasing. Doing so showed that most users are at minimal risk of exceeding the trafficable thresholds when they follow typical use and purchase patterns. On the other hand particular groups of users are at much greater risk of an erroneous charge as a trafficker (most notably users of MDMA and users in NSW and SA) for personal use alone. For example, in some states and some circumstances 80% of MDMA users possess more than the current threshold for their personal use alone. Moreover, we show that the risks in such circumstances are exacerbated by the idiosyncratic Australian criminal justice response to drug traffickers which removes the normal criminal justice safeguard concerned with burden of proof. This provides evidence that consistent with the results from the ACT the Australian system of drug trafficking thresholds are by their very nature imbued with the potential for unjustified or inequitable sanction. Equally importantly it shows that the level of risk can be mitigated by better design. We thus conclude by outlining possible ways forward include legislative reforms to elevate threshold quantities for some drugs/states.

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