Working paper by Janet Ransley and Kristina Murphy. Based on an unpublished report to the Queensland Police Service by Janet Ransley, Kristina Murphy, David Bartlett, Susanne Karstedt and Harley Williamson (2018), prepared at the request of the Queensland Sentencing Advisory Council.

Crimes cause harm, and some crimes cause more harm than others. The concept of crime harm has been important to the development of criminal law, sentencing practices, and more recently, in law enforcement, to help prioritise resource allocation and targeting of offences and offenders that cause the most harm. Often, these assessments have taken the form of an ‘index’ of crime harms.

This working paper describes a collaborative project between Griffith Criminology Institute researchers and the Queensland Police Service (QPS). The goal of the project was to develop an evidence-based tool for QPS in the form of a Queensland Crime Harm Index.

The working paper draws on prior published and unpublished work conducted by team members and funded by QPS. That work has been updated and expanded for this review, at the request of the Queensland Sentencing Advisory Council. In this working paper we report an overview of:

  1. the existing research on crime harm and different ways it has been understood and measured;
  2. our approach to developing a Queensland Crime Harm Index that meets the operational needs of the QPS, and the results of phase 1 of that approach, a representative survey of community perceptions of crime harm in the state;
  3. the methodology for adjusting those results to incorporate a measure of community consensus or agreement on the harmfulness of particular crime types, to deliver a weighted Queensland Community Crime Harm Index (see Table 13 of the working paper, on pages 37 and 38).

We also conducted further work that has been completed, but that we will report on separately. This included fielding the same survey to QPS employees and incorporating their responses into a consolidated Queensland Crime Harm Index. This additional work recognises that through their higher exposure to crimes and victims, police may have different and at times more informed views on crime harmfulness. Finally, we applied the results of the project to all offence types used by QPS, to provide a tool that is useful for both strategic and operational purposes. As noted, this additional work will be reported separately.