02c Victim Perpetrator Characteristics


The risk of victimisation is not homogenous.  There are marked variations by age group, gender, marital status, residential stability, socio-economic and employment status and time of day/night. These risk factors are inter-related. Briefly, being young, male, single, unemployed or under-employed, with high residential mobility and regularly participating in recreational activities in the evenings or at night (particularly involving alcohol etc consumption) results in increased risk of victimization – and in offending.  That is, perpetrators and victims share many characteristics. 

Victim characteristics

  • There are gender variations.  Over a 12-month period, males were more likely to be victims of physical assault (6.5% of males vs. 3.1% of females surveyed), and females (1.3% of females vs. 0.6% of males) were more likely to be victimized via sexual assault (ABS, 2006).
  • In remote Indigenous communities the risks are far higher (see Al-Yaman et al, 2006). 
  • In both 2003 and 2004, 4.5% of people in NSW were victims of a personal crime involving robbery, assault or sexual assault, with the risks being highest for young males (BOCSAR, 2007).  Many experience multiple victimizations. Of note, elderly people are the least likely to be victimized (ibid).

Perpetrator characteristics

  • The perpetrators of crime are also not representative of the population as a whole.
  • Perpetrators are markedly disproportionately young, male, alcohol or substance intoxicated, unemployed or under-employed, residentially mobile and many have poor impulse control.  For example, in 2002 in the NSW Courts (including the Children’s, Local, District and Supreme Courts) over 114,000 people were found guilty; of these over 80% were male with those aged 18-19 having the highest rate of offending, followed by 20-24 year old males (BOCSAR, 2002).
  • That is, victims and perpetrators share similar characteristics.

Reporting or non-reporting of crimes to police

  • Crimes that result in substantial property losses are most likely to be reported to police, (for example, vehicle theft) as are break and enter into homes.  Some of this reporting is also likely to be due to insurance claim requirements for formal reporting. 
  • In contrast, threats of assault and assaults are the least likely to be formally reported with only around 37% recorded (Johnson, 2005, p.5). 
  • The non-reporting of crimes inevitably makes calculation of incidence and prevalence ratios more difficult.