Australia's homicide rate drops; Knives revealed as most common murder weapon

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NSW police
Police stand guard and inspect the area outside the New South Wales (NSW) state police headquarters located in the Sydney suburb of Parramatta, Australia, October 2, 2015. Reuters/David Gray

Australia’s homicide rate has hit an all-time record low, which means fewer people are being killed in Down Under. Based on a new report of the national homicide monitoring program, there were about 238 homicide cases in the country from 2013 to 2014, fewer compared to the 307 deaths in 1989 to 1990. Reports also indicate that knives and guns are the most common murder weapons.

The latest data from the Australian Institute of Criminology means the national rate is down to one victim per 100,000 people. It was the lowest ever recorded since the program began in 1989.

According to the report, knives were the most common murder weapons accounting for 86 deaths. Beatings caused 37 deaths. Deaths caused by guns declined since 1989 to 1990. The report shows 32 deaths were due to a gunshot, marking a 63 percent drop.

Twenty-two murderers are aged below 18, with the youngest being 14. Males are still over-represented as both victims (64 per cent) and offenders (88 per cent). Meanwhile, use of illegal drugs reportedly preceded 161 of the 487 homicide incidents, a 12 percent rise from the 2010-12 reporting period.

The highest homicide incident rate in the country was recorded at the Northern Territory with 6.5 incidents per 100,000 persons. Meanwhile, the Australian Capital Territory has the lowest rate at 0.3 incidents per 100,000 persons in 2013-14.

In a huge number of killings, alcohols played a role. The results indicate 50 percent of indigenous offenders were drinking alcohol at the time of the murder incident. Sixty percent of indigenous victims were known to have drunk alcohol at the same time.

Justice Minister Michael Keenan described homicide an “abhorrent crime” and is totally unacceptable in the society, The Australia reports. He noted the homicide rate had dropped with a 22 percent reduction in the past 25 years.

“This data is vital to government and law enforcement agencies to guide policies that protect Australians and make our streets safer,” Keenan told the Sunday Herald Sun. He added that the report means their plan is working.

Keenan revealed women continued to be over-represented as victims of intimate partner homicide. Seventy-nine percent or 99 victims were recorded between 2012 and 2014.

On Sunday, a new Crime Statistics website was launched. It is reliable for datasets like victims of crime offenders, corrections, courts and statistics from the AIC's monitoring program.

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