An Australian Institute of Criminology recent study has found that fraud is the most costly crime to the nation. It is estimated that $1 in $8 of crime related costs are now attributed to fraud.

‘Counting the Costs of Crime in Australia: A 2011 Estimate’, found the total cost of crime to be around $47.6 billion. This staggering amount of money equates to just under 3.4 per cent of the nation’s gross domestic product.

Another $1.5 billion is spent on preventing and responding to crime.

Adam Tomison, director of the AIC, said governments could target funding much better by differentiating between the direct costs of individual crime types and the expense of responding to them.

“Some policy responses to crime are extremely costly to implement, particularly those requiring police action and the use of correctional services.

“Governments need to be able to assess whether the benefits of relying on particular responses are greater than the benefits of adopting alternative strategies that might be less costly, but more effective in reducing the harms associated with individual crime yes.”

In 2001 the total cost of crime was estimated at $31.8 billion, 3.8 per cent of GDP. The direct costs associated with crime were in excess of $23 billion and the expense of dealing with it was $1.5 billion more.

 The expense of criminal justice agencies – police, courts, and prisons – are the biggest money pits in the war on crime. Between 2001 and 2011 inflation has ballooned by 33 per cent, but the money going to criminal justice agencies has more than doubled from $12.8 billion to $24.6 billion.

Breakdown of the costs of crime in Australia:

Fraud — $6.05 billion (+3 per cent since 2001)

Drug abuse — $3.16 billion (+61 per cent)

Assault — $3.02 billion (+110 per cent)

Criminal damage — $2.73 billion (+103 per cent)

Arson — $2.27 billion (+68 per cent)

Burglary — $1.65 billion (-33 per cent)

Homicide — $1.25 billion (+34 per cent)

Sexual assault — $775 million (+237 per cent)

Thefts from vehicles — $677 million (+28 per cent)

Other theft — $605 million (-6 per cent)

Thefts of vehicles — $421 million (-52 per cent)

Robbery — $372 million (-38 per cent)

Shop theft — $124 million (-85 per cent)

Drug abuse — $3.16 (+61 per cent)

Sub Total — $23.1 billion (+21 per cent)

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