Department of Family and Community Services

3.4 Public confidence with the criminal justice system

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ABS survey respondents’ perceptions of the criminal justice system

Current position

Police

In NSW in 2011-12, women and men had similar levels of confidence in police, with 79 percent of women agreeing or strongly agreeing that police treat people fairly, compared to 80 percent of men. Slightly more women than men felt that police could be relied upon (75 percent women and 73 percent men).

Courts

Women are slightly less likely than men to agree that the criminal courts deal with matters quickly (21 percent of women, 24 percent of men) or ensure a fair trial (52 percent of women and 59 percent of men). Prisons Women are slightly less likely than men to agree that prisons act as a form of punishment (60 percent for women compared to 64 percent for men) or rehabilitate prisoners (29 percent for women and 31 percent for men).

Gender gap

  • Women have less positive perception of the criminal courts than men.
The direction of
change over time

There is no comparable data from previous years, as 2011-12 was the first year that questions on perceptions of the criminal justice system were included in the ABS Crime Victimisation, Australia survey.

Discussion

It is useful to understand women’s perceptions of the justice system, as these can provide some indication of how willing women may be to engage with the criminal justice process when they are victims of crime, or where change may be required.

Table 6.6 sets out women’s and men’s perceptions of the criminal justice system. Interestingly, women are more likely than men to have a neutral view, or no opinion, on all of the statements listed in this table.

 

This data was collected as part of the ABS 2011–12 Multipurpose Household Survey, as a supplement to the monthly Labour Force Survey. The sample was accumulated over a 12-month period from July 2011 to June 2012. Nationally, 26,382 respondents participated in the survey. Of these 5,999 were from NSW.

Year collected: 2011-12.
Data source: ABS (2013) Crime Victimisation, Australia, 2011-12, Cat no. 4530.0 (unpublished data). More information is available at www.abs.gov.au

Table 6.6 Perceptions of the justice system by sex, NSW, 2011-12

Women 

Men 

Agree and strongly agree  No opinion or neutral  Disagree and strongly disagree  Agree and strongly agree  No opinion or neutral  Disagree and strongly disagree 
Police 
The police treat people fairly 

79

14

8

80

10

10

The police are approachable and easy to talk to 

80

13

6

82

10

9

The police can be relied upon 

75

12

12

73

11

16

Criminal courts 
The criminal courts are effective in giving punishments which fit the crime 

37

26

37

38

21

40

The criminal courts deal with matters quickly 

21

35

44

24

31

45

The criminal courts ensure a fair trial 

52

32

16

59

27

14

Prisons 
The prisons act as a form of punishment 

60

23

17

64

17

18

The prisons rehabilitate prisoners 

29

34

37

31

28

41

Population: People in NSW aged 15 years and over selected at random, based on a computer algorithm. Source: ABS (2013) Crime Victimisation, Australia, 2011-12, Cat no. 4530.0 (unpublished data).