Academic journal article Trends & Issues in Crime and Criminal Justice

Results from the 2001-2002 National Farm Crime Survey

Academic journal article Trends & Issues in Crime and Criminal Justice

Results from the 2001-2002 National Farm Crime Survey

Article excerpt

Farm crime has a significant effect on the farming industry and community as a whole, especially in times of hardship such as drought. In order to understand how significant farm crime is in Australia, the Australian Institute of Criminology is conducting three annual surveys on farm crime. This paper summarises the results from the second National Farm Crime Survey (NFCS). A total of 1309 broadacre and dairy farms were surveyed about their experiences of crime between 1 July 2001 and 30 June 2002. Overall, 13 per cent of these farms experienced crime, a slight decrease from the comparable number that experienced farm crime in the first survey. In financial terms, farm crime was estimated to cost broadacre and dairy farmers $72 million in 2001-2002.

The most common type of farm crime experienced was livestock theft (6 per cent of all farms) followed by theft (5 per cent) and vandalism/damage (3 per cent). Moreover, victims from particular types of farms experienced different types of crime. Large and remote farms more commonly experienced higher levels of livestock theft whereas smaller and highly accessible farms more commonly experienced higher levels of damage/vandalism. The majority of farms were only victimised once during the survey period. However, of the farms that were victimised, 28 per cent were repeat victims. Only half of all crime experienced on farms was reported to the police. Based on the results of the survey, the next NFCS will expand its scope to measure the effectiveness of crime prevention strategies on farms.

Toni Makkai

Acting Director

Recent research has shown that a significant proportion of farms experience crime (Barclay et al 2001; Carcach 2002; & Laird Granville & Montgomery 1999). However, it is not just the farmers who are victims of these crimes that are directly affected. The entire rural community and the wider agricultural industry feels the effects of farm crime. Furthermore, the impact of crime on farmers can be intensified when combined with other uncontrollable factors such as drought. This can lead to seasonal variations in crime. For example, criminals may target farm produce during a drought whereas livestock may be targeted after a drought due to inflating prices (Brown 2003; Jarred 2002; & Stephenson 2003).

The Australian Institute of Criminology (AIC) in collaboration with the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics (ABARE) conducted the inaugural National Farm Crime Survey (NFCS) in 2000-2001 (funded by National Crime Prevention Program). The survey provided the first nationwide data on broadacre and dairy farm crime (Carcach 2002). This study revealed that 27 per cent of broadacre and dairy farms had been the victims of some form of property crime during the twelve-month survey period. Whereas the 2000-2001 survey measured the prevalence of dumping of rubbish on farm land, trespassing on farm land and unauthorised hunting or fishing on farm land, the 2001-2002 survey did not measure these crimes. For comparison purposes between the surveys, exclusion of the above crimes reduces the prevalence rate of the 2000-2001 survey to 15 per cent.

This paper discusses the main results from the second of three national surveys conducted annually by the AIC on farm crime in the broadacre and dairy industry. Farm crime (for the purpose of the survey) is defined as crimes against property involved in the agricultural industry. This can include theft of crops, livestock, equipment, farm materials, tools and spare parts, farm vehicles and machinery, and vandalism and arson of farm property. The survey primarily focused on the prevalence, incidence and reporting of crime against Australian farms.

About the 2001- 2002 National Farm Crime Survey

The survey was conducted as a supplement to the Australian Agricultural and Grazing Industries Survey (AAGIS) and the Australian Dairy Industry Survey (ADIS). The period covered by the survey was from 1 July 2001 to 30 June 2002. …

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