ACT News

ACT worst for bashings and sex assaults: Productivity Commission

The ACT recorded the highest rate of physical and sexual assault victims in the country in 2011-12, newly published data shows.

The Productivity Commission will release its second batch of reports on government services on Wednesday, scoring the states and territories on their performance in the justice and emergency services sectors.

The figures show the ACT had a victim rate of 4706 per 100,000 people for physical assaults. That is the highest in the country, just above the Northern Territory, where there were 4622 physical assault victims per 100,000 people.

The ACT was also the worst performer in reporting physical assaults to the authorities, with a reporting rate of just 31 per cent. The total number of physical assault victims was estimated at 13,600 for the year, a figure that includes victims who did not report to police.

The 2011-12 figures, taken from Australian Bureau of Statistics' crime victimisation surveys, are obtained through surveys of the public about their experiences of crime, and usually differ from police data.

The victimisation figures show the ACT recorded the highest rate of sexual assault victims per capita in the country.

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However, the Productivity Commission warned that caution should be exercised when making comparisons based on the sexual assault data, as it was subject to significant standard error. The ACT had 547 sexual assault victims per 100,000 people, according to the report, just above the rate of the next-highest jurisdiction, the Northern Territory.

However, the rate at which sexual assaults were reported to ACT authorities was the highest in the country, at 45 per cent.

The Productivity Commission report shows high levels of confidence in the police in Canberra.

The territory also scored highly in feelings of safety, and had the highest mark in the country for feeling safe while walking through the neighbourhood during the day.

That result was welcomed by Chief Minister and acting Police Minister Katy Gallagher.

"ACT Policing continues to perform above the national average against key performance priorities set by the ACT government and

enjoys the trust and confidence of ACT residents," Ms Gallagher said.

"This trust in our police translates into Canberrans feeling safe within the community.''

The report shows the improving efficiency of the ACT's court system.

The territory recorded the highest clearance rates for the ACT Supreme Court in criminal matters in 2012-13, and performed relatively well in clearing civil matters.

The government attributed that to a range of measures, including the 2012 blitz on outstanding court cases and changes to the jurisdictional limits.

Efforts to rehabilitate prisoners in the ACT, which is generally considered a significant focus for the ACT justice system, did not mark well in the Productivity Commission's report.

Roughly 46 per cent of prisoners released in 2010-11 returned to jail within two years of their release, the second-worst result in the country after the Northern Territory.

The ACT also had the highest rate of serious assaults by a prisoner on a fellow inmate.

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