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The heavy burden of crime on tax payers

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17 October 2011

crime

New research shows that crime is costing Victorians at least $9.8 billion - or $1678 per person - a year.

The report, by Professor Russell Smyth, Head of the Department of Economics, covers crime figures for the 2009 – 2010 financial year. It reveals that the most expensive crime is fraud: an estimated 76,556 instances of deception cost a total of $2.14 billion.

The costs taken into account by the report include expenses such as the medical costs, loss of wages, the replacement of property and intangible costs such as the value of a person’s quality of life.

“Deception accounts for the highest dollar value of all crime types (21.8 per cent), followed by arson at 11.1 per cent or $1.09 billion,” Professor Smyth said.

Professor Smyth’s research found that murder, manslaughter and road deaths resulting in criminal charges amounted to just over $397 million from the 194 recorded instances.

There were 34,981 recorded assaults plus seven attempted murders in Victoria with an estimated cost of $204 million, however the recorded crime statistics do not indicate whether the assault resulted in injury and whether hospitalisation was required.

Residential burglaries amounted to nearly $365 million due to 27,343 recorded residential and 16,233 non-residential burglaries.

Property damage amounted to $365.6 million due to 52,346 recorded incidents of property damage and a further 3034 recorded instances of arson at an estimated cost of $224.4 million.

The research further showed that the total cost of illicit drug abuse is estimated to be $468.8 million. There were 4388 recorded instances of cultivation, manufacturing and trafficking and 10,195 recorded instances of possession.

The number of recorded motor vehicle thefts was 15,078, with an overall cost of $133.5 million and 21,326 recorded shop thefts with an estimated cost of $288 million.

The 6,665 recorded sexual assaults resulted in an estimated cost of just over $73 million.

There were 3108 recorded robberies, with an estimated cost of $30.7 million. The costs of robbery also include medical costs, lost output, intangible losses and property losses.

Other costs dealing with crime, including costs associated with administering criminal justice (27.4 per), victim assistance (2.2 per cent), the security industry (8.5 per cent) and insurance administration (1.7 per cent), represent 40.7 per cent of total costs.

According to Professor Smyth it is not possible to measure all types of potential costs.

“The figures are certainly on the conservative side; it is always difficult to put a cost on the human element aspect of a crime and as such, the total cost of crime to the people of Victoria is likely to be even higher,” Professor Smyth said.