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Measuring crime harm − The reality behind the statistics

The CIJ provided input to the Crime Statistics Agency (CSA) on the development of a Crime Harm Index for Victoria.

We recently provided a submission to the Crime Statistics Agency in response to a Discussion Paper on the development of a Crime Harm Index for Victoria. When applied to crime statistics, tools that rate the harm caused to victims from certain crimes can provide an indication of the disproportionate effect of some offending. Crime Harm Indexes are primarily used to promote evidence-based resource allocation for policing, crime prevention and victim support. As a research tool, harm measures have the potential to shed light on the human cost of crime sitting behind crime statistics.

A well-conceived harm measure can lead to greater understanding of the personal cost of crime and drive positive change in the criminal justice system. There is a risk however, that a crude measure that fails to take into account the complexity of offending may be used in way that inadvertently entrenches bias and disadvantage.

Drawing on insights gained from our consultations with victims of crime as part of the Victim Service Review, and what we’ve learned through our work on family violence and restorative justice, the CIJ supports the development of a Crime Harm Index that reflects the experience of victims and the wider harms that flow from crime. This includes the harm caused to offenders and the impact of crime on secondary victims – the families and loved ones of both victims and offenders.

We look forward to the next phase in the development of a Crime Harm Index that is informed by understandings of the underreporting of certain crimes; historic assumptions about victims and certain types of offences; the link between victimisation and offending, and; the context of poverty, family violence and marginalisation in both victimisation and offending.

You can read our submission here.