IRF Rural Crime

There has been an alarming increase in the rate of crime in rural Australia in recent times. This phenomenon is widespread and involves an increasing range of crimes. While crime may be more accepted as an inevitable part of life in the city, in rural areas, it is an important quality of life measure.  An increase in crime may be viewed not only as a break down in law and order but as a threat to the economic future of rural communities. Adverse publicity surrounding the social problems within some rural towns can discourage investors, tourism and potential new community members.  In some Australian towns, residents have reacted with public meetings, to express their concern about levels of crime in their townships with the result that law and order has become an important political issue.

An understanding of crime necessitates an understanding of life within rural communities and the dynamics that confront them. Increasing crime rates may be symptomatic of the increasing urbanisation and modernisation of rural communities and the accompanying demographic, economic and social changes which are associated with an urban lifestyle and higher crime rates. These changes reflect the social and economic changes (and the corresponding increase in crime) in rural communities.

International Journal of Rural Criminology

The International Journal of Rural Criminology (formerly known as the International Journal for Rural Crime) provides a forum for the publication of both empirical and theoretical work on rural crime in societies around the world. The IJRC is published every 6 months.

Rural Criminology Listserve

If you would like to be a part of the a global network of criminologists and practitioners with a passionate interest in rural crime please send a request to Professor Joe Donnermeyer Ohio State University

Farm Crime

Crime on Farms 2001-2014

In response to a request from New South Wales and Queensland Police, a mail survey of 3160 farmers across a range of agricultural industries in Queensland and New South Wales was conducted to examine the nature, extent and impact of rural crime, security practices on farms, and farmers’ attitudes to rural crime. The findings were compared with those of the previous study conducted in 2001 to assess trends in rural crime.

NSW Attorney General's Crime Prevention Division: Property crime victimisation and crime prevention on farms: 2001: $76,019
Elaine Barclay and Joseph Donnermeyer

This project investigated the extent and impact of property-related victimisation on farms involving crimes such as the theft of stock, chemical, fuel, machinery and equipment, as well as vandalism and arson. It also examined the relationship between victimisation and physical deterrence factors. The extent and pattern of security practices undertaken by farmers and their possible association with property crime was assessed. A mail survey was conducted with 1,100 farmers in rural New South Wales. Telephone interviews were held with farmers who had been victims of crime, police, and agricultural professionals, such as stock and station agents and sale-yard managers. The results highlighted the problems of policing and preventing agricultural crimes due to difficulties in maintaining security on farms and the widespread under-reporting of agricultural crimes.

Crime Prevention on Farms (Brochures)

Download the following brochures on Crime Prevention on Farms. Topics in the series address specific measures that enable farmers to reduce their vulnerability to crime. These measures were developed from the ideas and tried and true initiatives given to us by farmers across New South Wales. We sincerely thank them for their valuable contribution. There are no guarantees in life and that includes the prevention of crime. However, every action to prevent crime contributes to greater security. The project was funded by the Crime Prevention Division of the New South Wales Attorney General's Department.

Each publication (PDF) describes a specific aspect of reducing opportunity for crime. The topics include:

  1. Crime on farms (PDF, 504.55 KB)
  2. General farm security (PDF, 704.51 KB)
  3. Indentification of farm machinery, tools and equipment (PDF, 603.92 KB)
  4. Farm machinery theft (PDF, 637.11 KB)
  5. Farmhouse security (PDF, 562.31 KB)
  6. Fuel tank security (PDF, 481.72 KB)
  7. Seed and grain theft (PDF, 466.3 KB)
  8. Livestock theft (PDF, 695.62 KB)
  9. Trespassers and illegal shooters (PDF, 586.48 KB)
  10. Reporting crimes to police (PDF, 576.26 KB)
  11. How to Establish a neighbourhood Watch or Rural Watch Group (PDF, 672.35 KB)
Environmental Crime

Commonwealth Environmental Research Facilities (CERF). Order with and without the law $240,000: Elaine Barclay (with Robyn Bartel)

Risks to the environment increase by high land clearance rates and the theft or misuse of water resources in Australia. Criminalisation of such acts has been met by non-compliance and active social resistance. A survey of farmers and case studies in Queensland, NSW and Victoria compared prevailing perceptions, social norms and informal sanctions pertaining to various environmental crimes.

Aboriginal Night Patrol

Federal Attorney General: Evaluation of Indigenous Night Patrols, $336,000: John Scott and Elaine Barclay

Funded by the Federal Attorney General’s Department, this project evaluated the effectiveness of Indigenous justice night patrol programs in NSW (UNE) and WA (ECU) in support of the National Indigenous Law and Justice Framework. Night patrols are common within Indigenous communities throughout Australia. They vary according to the needs of the communities in which they operate. Typically they provide safe transport home or to refuges and safe houses for people at risk of offending or victimisation.

Evaluation of Indigenous Justice programs, Final Report (5.31 Mb)

Tourism and Crime

West Australian Office of Crime Prevention; Crime and Caravan Parks: $50,000
Elaine Barclay

This study examined the nature and extent of crime within caravan parks in Australia. Case studies of 36 caravan parks in two regions in Western Australia and two regions in New South Wales were conducted involving 121 interviews with park managers, tourists and permanent residents, police, security guards, local government and industry personnel.