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Jul 24, 2009

The ABS has just released their attempt to list crimes in Australia by ranking of seriousness. It’s part of their groundwork for other crime and justice publications they issue – so it has no actual legal standing, but it’s an interesting list none the less. There’s 154 distinct offences in all, with murder coming in 1st and ‘traffic and vehicle regulatory offences’ coming in as least serious. The complete list of distinct offences is over the fold.

Rank Crime
1 Murder
2 Attempted murder
3 Manslaughter
4 Driving causing death
5 Manslaughter and driving causing death,
6 Homicide and related offences,
7 Aggravated sexual assault
8 Non-assaultive sexual offences against a child
9 Sexual servitude offences
10 Child pornography offences
11 Non-aggravated sexual assault
12 Non-assaultive sexual offences,
13 Sexual assault and related offences,
14 Import illicit drugs
15 Export illicit drugs
16 Import or export illicit drugs,
17 Deal or traffic in illicit drugs – commercial quantity
18 Manufacture illicit drugs
19 Cultivate illicit drugs
20 Manufacture or cultivate illicit drugs,
21 Deal or traffic in illicit drugs – non-commercial quantity
22 Deal or traffic in illicit drugs,
23 Serious assault resulting in injury
24 Abduction and kidnapping
25 Aggravated robbery
26 Deprivation of liberty/false imprisonment
27 Serious assault not resulting in injury
28 Common assault
29 Assault,
30 Other acts intended to cause injury,
31 Stalking
32 Other acts intended to cause injury,
33 Acts intended to cause injury,
34 Neglect or ill-treatment of persons under care
35 Other dangerous or negligent acts endangering persons,
36 Other dangerous or negligent acts endangering persons,
37 Drive under the influence of alcohol or other substance
38 Dangerous or negligent operation (driving) of a vehicle
39 Dangerous or negligent acts endangering persons,
40 Non-aggravated robbery
41 Blackmail and extortion
42 Threatening behaviour
43 Procure or commit illegal abortion
44 Property damage by fire or explosion
45 Offences against government security
46 Import or export prohibited weapons/explosives
47 Sell, possess and/or use prohibited weapons/explosives
48 Prohibited weapons/explosives offences,
49 Prohibited weapons/explosives offences,
50 Unlawfully obtain or possess regulated weapons/explosives
51 Misuse of regulated weapons/explosives
52 Deal or traffic regulated weapons/explosives offences
53 Regulated weapons/explosives offences,
54 Regulated weapons/explosives offences,
55 Prohibited and regulated weapons and explosives offences,
56 Counterfeiting of currency
57 Bribery involving government officials
58 Subvert the course of justice
59 Unlawful entry with intent/burglary, break and enter
60 Obtain benefit by deception
61 Forgery of documents
62 Possess equipment to make false / illegal instrument
63 Fraudulent trade practices
64 Dishonest conversion
65 Misrepresentation of professional status
66 Other fraud and deception offences,
67 Illegal non-fraudulent trade practices
68 Theft of a motor vehicle
69 Illegal use of a motor vehicle
70 Theft from a person (excluding by force)
71 Theft of motor vehicle parts or contents
72 Motor vehicle theft and related offences,
73 Theft of intellectual property
74 Theft from retail premises
75 Theft (except motor vehicles),
76 Theft (except motor vehicles),
77 Receive or handle proceeds of crime
78 Illegal use of property (except motor vehicles)
79 Commercial/industry/financial regulation
80 Import/export regulations
81 Offences against privacy
82 Harassment and private nuisance
83 Exceed the prescribed content of alcohol or other substance limit
84 Graffiti
85 Property damage, .
86 Air pollution offences
87 Water pollution offences
88 Soil pollution offences
89 Noise pollution offences
90 Environmental pollution, .
91 Environmental pollution,
92 Sanitation offences
93 Disease prevention offences
94 Occupational health and safety offences
95 Transport regulation offences
96 Dangerous substances offences
97 Licit drug offences
98 Public health and safety offences, .
99 Public health and safety offences,
100 Environmental regulation offences
101 Immigration offences
102 Quarantine offences
103 Offences against justice procedures, .
104 Offences against government operations, .
105 Escape custody offences
106 Breach of home detention
107 Breach of suspended sentence
108 Breach of custodial order offences,
109 Breach of parole
110 Breach of community service order
111 Breach of bond – probation
112 Breach of bail
113 Breach of violence order
114 Breach of bond – other
115 Breach of community based order, .
116 Breach of community based order,
117 Prison regulation offences
118 Bribery (excluding government officials)
119 Breach of non-violence orders
120 Defamation and libel
121 Censorship offences
122 Vilify or incite hatred on racial, cultural or ethnic grounds
123 Cruelty to animals
124 Possess illicit drugs
125 Use illicit drugs
126 Possess and/or use illicit drugs,
127 Other illicit drug offences,
128 Riot and affray
129 Trespass
130 Offensive language
131 Offensive behaviour
132 Criminal intent
133 Disorderly conduct,
134 Betting and gambling offences
135 Liquor and tobacco offences
136 Prostitution offences
137 Offences against public order sexual standards
138 Resist or hinder police officer or justice official
139 Resist or hinder government officer concerned with government security
140 Resist or hinder government official (excluding police,justice officer)
141 Drive while licence disqualified or suspended
142 Drive without a licence
143 Driver licence offences, .
144 Driver licence offences,
145 Registration offences
146 Roadworthiness offences
147 Vehicle registration and roadworthiness offences,
148 Exceed the legal speed limit
149 Parking offences
150 Regulatory driving offences, .
151 Consumption of legal substances in regulated spaces
152 Regulated public order offences,
153 Pedestrian offences
154 Traffic and vehicle regulatory offences,
155 Other miscellaneous offences .

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23 comments

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23 thoughts on “What crimes are considered worse than others?

  1. Venise Alstergren

    Can’t understand why using home grown weed rates as a crime at all. Ditto, why does cruelty to animals rate so far down the ladder?

  2. Tom

    Apparently growing your own weed is worse than robbery and kidnapping. strange.

  3. Lee Davis-Thalbourne

    By the by, I managed to answer my own question in regards to how the seriousness of crimes have changed over the years, by emailing ABS themselves. There’s actually a concordance table showing where each crime on the 2009 list was on the 2001 list. I suspect, but am not certain, that most of the differences are actually insertions of new crimes, rather than any changes in relation to other crimes.

    The link to the concordance table (Excel file) is:

    http://www.ausstats.abs.gov.au/ausstats/subscriber.nsf/0/20B5F775CA9D97DBCA2575FB0018733C/$File/1234.0.55.001%20concordance.xls

  4. Yaz

    For my part, I am finding things like ‘stalking’ and ‘blackmail and extortion’ down too low on the list. These things, unlike say, common assault, seem to create longer term harm, and are a serious breach of community ethics.
    I’m no lawyer or judge though…

  5. cud chewer

    Fiona, if there exists a picture of someone being set on fire (such pictures are easy to find and have appeared on TV) then is the act of viewing the picture as bad as committing the act itself?

    My point is to show just how irrational “mainstream opinion” can be.

  6. DrMick

    Larceny, heresy, mayhem and witchcraft didn’t even get a mention. I feel like an REM fan listening to the trile j hottest hundred countdown.

    Interesting that kidnapping comes in at 24, below growing dope, yet kidnapping carries the death penalty in parts of America. Wonder how other countries rank the same crimes?

  7. Michael Fink

    What I can never fathom is how society (as reflected in this list) manage the logical gymnastics required to make the following distinctions:

    4 Driving causing death
    5 Manslaughter and driving causing death,
    37 Drive under the influence of alcohol or other substance
    148 Exceed the legal speed limit
    154 Traffic and vehicle regulatory offences,

    Assuming that driving in a such a manner as to intentionally cause death is classified as murder (and thus other circumstances are covered by #4), then essentially such distinctions appear to be made solely on the basis of outcome, with almost no consideration given to the intention, negligence or recklessness of drivers.

    Consider cases of drivers killing other road uses whilst texting on their mobile phone. Under this list the driver that texts whilst driving and does not hit anything is rated a lowly 154th. Whereas another driver, in otherwise identical circumstances, might kill a cyclist (such as what happened near Geelong a few years ago) and they are apparently up there with the worst of the worst. (For recent discussion of dangers of mobile phones in cars see the New York Times.)

    Of course the more common example is driving whilst under the influence of alcohol. In Victoria we seem to jail drunk drivers that kill for at least a couple of years, ostensibly on the basis that it serves a general deterrent to other drivers. And yet there are probably tens or hundreds of drivers pulled over on the same night who barely get a slap on the wrist.

    If society really considers driving causing death the fourth most serious offence then we should at the very least consider locking for a week up all drivers who exceed the blood alcohol limit. Of course it won’t happen. Which makes the low ratings of the very offences most likely to cause such a death completely illogical, and exposes the justice system’s so-called ‘general deterrence’ as little more than a smokescreen for old-fashioned revenge.

  8. Kersebleptes

    Fabulous class of avatar pictures here on Pollytics.
    I feel inappropriately dressed, like a imp at a nature-sprites’ convention

  9. Trubbell at Mill

    Rankings 138, 139 and 140 show that there is still a strong anti-authoritarian streak about us – a touch of the old Ned Kelly.

    I’m personally very shocked that those offences are seen as so minor. Ditto with cruelty to animals.

  10. Fiona Mowat

    cud-chewer, re: “And child pornography. No distinction between making child porn, viewing it (without benefit to the maker) and paying for it.”

    Some people would say that viewing it or paying for it IS as bad as making it. It’s not a victimless crime. If the porn EXISTS, then a child has already been harmed…

  11. Kersebleptes

    David Richards @ 11 & 12,

    Fair points. It isn’t a subject that lends itself to one-column lists, anyway.

    And yes, Thomas Paine, where IS treason?

  12. David Richards

    I was tempted to move all the drug offences down to the bottom, with the other ‘victimless’ crimes. I don’t use drugs nor do I approve of them, but prohibition has been a failure, and only provided organised crime with a source of funds, and tends to increase most other areas of crime, including bribery and corruption of police and government officials. I would also have had “buying political influence through donation to a political party” or something like that (whatever the legalese would be), but no such offense exists afaik.

  13. David Richards

    yes – it was a first run through – doubtless I could move some further up the list, and probably would, it took long enough to do the cursory remodel I did do… at least my version is a better starting point to move some up and some down. The original version was decidedly erroneous.

  14. Kersebleptes

    Effing disgusting how far down cruelty to animals is (even in yours Mr Richards, although you’re a big improvement).

  15. David Richards

    How I would rank them :

    Rank Crime

    1 Murder
    2 Attempted murder
    3 Manslaughter including Driving causing death
    4 Aggravated sexual assault
    5 Non-assaultive sexual offences against a child
    6 Sexual servitude offences
    7 Vilify or incite hatred on racial, cultural or ethnic grounds
    8 Child pornography production and distribution
    9 Child pornography purchase and possession
    10 Child pornography possession
    11 Non-aggravated sexual assault
    12 Non-assaultive sexual offences,
    13 Sexual assault and related offences,
    14 Import or export illicit drugs
    15 Deal or traffic in illicit drugs
    16 Manufacture illicit drugs
    17 Cultivate illicit drugs for sale
    18 Serious assault resulting in injury
    19 Abduction and kidnapping
    20 Aggravated robbery
    21 Deprivation of liberty/false imprisonment
    22 Serious assault not resulting in injury
    23 Common assault
    24 Assault
    25 Other acts intended to cause injury
    26 Riot and affray
    27 Air pollution offences
    28 Water pollution offences
    29 Soil pollution offences
    30 Noise pollution offences
    31 Environmental pollution, .
    32 Sanitation offences
    33 Disease prevention offences
    34 Occupational health and safety offence
    35 Public health and safety offences, .
    36 Environmental regulation offences
    37 Quarantine offences
    38 Exceed the legal speed limit
    39 Roadworthiness offences
    40 Offences against justice procedures, .
    41 Offences against government operations,
    42 Bribery involving government officials
    43 Stalking
    44 Neglect or ill-treatment of persons under care
    45 Cruelty to animals
    46 Other dangerous or negligent acts endangering persons
    47 Drive under the influence of alcohol or other substance
    48 Dangerous or negligent operation (driving) of a vehicle
    49 Dangerous or negligent acts endangering persons,
    50 Non-aggravated robbery
    51 Blackmail and extortion
    52 Threatening behaviour
    53 Property damage by fire or explosion
    54 Offences against government security
    55 Import or export prohibited weapons/explosives
    56 Sell, possess and/or use prohibited weapons/explosives
    57 Unlawfully obtain or possess regulated weapons/explosives
    58 Misuse of regulated weapons/explosives
    59 Deal or traffic regulated weapons/explosives offences
    60 Prohibited and regulated weapons and explosives offences,
    61 Counterfeiting of currency
    62 Subvert the course of justice
    63 Unlawful entry with intent/burglary, break and enter
    64 Obtain benefit by deception
    65 Forgery of documents
    66 Possess equipment to make false / illegal instrument
    67 Fraudulent trade practices
    68 Dishonest conversion
    69 Misrepresentation of professional status
    70 Other fraud and deception offences,
    71 Illegal non-fraudulent trade practices
    72 Theft of a motor vehicle
    73 Illegal use of a motor vehicle
    74 Theft from a person (excluding by force)
    75 Theft of motor vehicle parts or contents
    76 Motor vehicle theft and related offences,
    77 Theft of intellectual property
    78 Theft from retail premises
    79 Theft (except motor vehicles),
    80 Receive or handle proceeds of crime
    81 Illegal use of property (except motor vehicles)
    82 Commercial/industry/financial regulation
    83 Import/export regulations
    84 Immigration offences
    85 Offences against privacy
    86 Harassment and private nuisance
    87 Exceed the prescribed content of alcohol or other substance limit
    88 Graffiti
    89 Property damage,
    90 Transport regulation offences
    91 Dangerous substances offences
    92 Licit drug offences
    93 Escape custody offences
    94 Breach of home detention
    95 Breach of suspended sentence
    96 Breach of custodial order offences,
    97 Breach of parole
    98 Breach of community service order
    99 Breach of bond – probation
    100 Breach of bail
    101 Breach of violence order
    102 Breach of bond – other
    103 Breach of community based order, .
    104 Breach of community based order,
    105 Prison regulation offences
    106 Bribery (excluding government officials)
    107 Breach of non-violence orders
    108 Defamation and libel
    109 Censorship offences
    110 Possess illicit drugs
    111 Use illicit drugs
    112 Other illicit drug offences,
    113 Trespass
    114 Offensive language
    115 Offensive behaviour
    116 Criminal intent
    117 Disorderly conduct,
    118 Liquor and tobacco offences
    119 Offences against public order sexual standards
    120 Resist or hinder police officer or justice official
    121 Resist or hinder government officer concerned with government security
    122 Resist or hinder government official (excluding police,justice officer)
    123 Drive while licence disqualified or suspended
    124 Drive without a licence
    125 Driver licence offences,
    126 Registration offences.
    127 Parking offences
    128 Regulatory driving offences,
    129 Consumption of legal substances in regulated spaces .
    130 Regulated public order offences,
    131 Pedestrian offences
    132 Traffic and vehicle regulatory offences,
    133 Other miscellaneous offences
    134 Betting and gambling offences
    135 Prostitution offences

  16. calyptorhynchus

    Why is cruelty to animals way down at 123?

  17. gareth perkins

    125 – Use illicit drugs

    Sentencing must be really out of whack.

  18. Greensborough Growler

    Crimes against Psephology?

  19. fmark

    Glad to see that sedition didn’t make the list. Interesting to see that Graffiti offenses (#84) are far worse than Escape custody offences (#105) or Vilify or incite hatred on racial, cultural or ethnic grounds (#122).

  20. cud chewer

    Is their ranking based on some measure of public sentiment, or based on the legislation itself, or based on statistics of actual judgements? I’m assuming its the third of these, but would like to be sure.

    Censorship offences? Did they mean the act of censorship or the circumvention of censorship?

    Offences against government security is way up on the list. Wonder what it means..

    Not too surprised that offences related to cars (my… precious..!) are way down the list.

    And child pornography. No distinction between making child porn, viewing it (without benefit to the maker) and paying for it.

  21. Thomas Paine

    The left off the worst crime of all. Treason. I notice regicide is not there either but I guess that gets grouped under murder. There is not specific terrorism crime I see.

  22. Lee Davis-Thalbourne

    You know, I’d be really curious to see this sort of data in a historical context. I mean, I know there’s probably no data like this from before now, but I’d be curious to see the ABS do something like this every decade or so, to see which crimes become more or less serious across time (or even which offenses become irrelevant and leave the list)

  23. Dave55

    Poss,

    There seems to be a lot of overlap here, for example:

    1 Murder
    2 Attempted murder

    I can agree that these should be at the top and don’t overlap but of the next 4, there is significant overlap, possibly indicating a lack of understanding about the acual offences:

    3 Manslaughter
    4 Driving causing death
    5 Manslaughter and driving causing death,
    6 Homicide and related offences,

    Homicide is any death caused by another person. It is either murder, manslaughter or an excusable homicide like self defence. The latter I find hard to believe that people think is actually a scime, neverlone one more serious than sexual assault. The first two are already in the list, so why include this category. Same can be said for 3 and 5. Unless the driving causing death was intentional or recklessly indifferent to human life (in which case it’s murder), then it is either manslaughter or negilgence occaisionaing death (essentially manslaughter), accordingly, why the need for 5?

    Interesting to see:
    151 Consumption of legal substances in regulated spaces
    rate so low (I assume we are talking about alcohol and smoking here) – it’s a little at odds with the Political position taken on these things.