News like Armadale is Perth’s crime hot spot doesn’t really help the good people of Armadale when it comes to selling their property. Few people would want to buy in “the burglary capital of the area”.
But annual crime statistics do not tell the full story. In fact, it’s a little like comparing the annual road toll for Australia and the USA. We know there are many more cars on the road in the USA (after all, their population is much larger than ours), so we expect that they would have more car accidents. But you can’t draw the conclusion as a result, that it’s safer to drive on the road in Australia.
Perth’s crime hotspots included the suburbs of Armadale, Rockingham and Mandurah (based on data recently released by WA Police Force). These places also have a number of other things in common. They are all “regional centres”. They all have shopping centres / retail precincts. They also all have entertainment precincts. Both of these draw in people from surrounding areas which can influence the volume and types of crimes. And they also have reasonably-sized populations.
A fairer way to look at the crime statistics is to look at them on a per 1000 basis – per 1000 people, per 1000 dwellings, per 1000 cars.
Now the most accurate figures we have for all of these are almost five years old. And it’s quite likely that they have increased since the 2011 Census. But as this is a largely academic exercise, we’ll use the information we have to hand.
Assaults are carried out on people. 300 assaults a year looks very different in a suburb with a population of 10,000 compared to one where the population is 1000. The difference is a ratio of 30 assaults per 1000 people compared to 300 assaults per 1000 people. Suddenly, the smaller town doesn’t look as safe.
Armadale’s population of 12,800 back in 2011 gives us an incident of assaults of 44 per 1000 people. Rockingham and Mandurah had fewer assaults than Armadale, but Rockingham had the largest population of the three suburbs, indicating the incidence of assaults as 22 per 1000 people whilst Mandurah, with its much smaller population had a much higher incidence of assaults than both suburbs. Being regional centres, unfortunately a number of the assault victims could well include visitors to the retail and entertainment precincts.
Home burglaries are committed on dwellings. So the total number of home burglaries needs to be factored against the number of dwellings. Again, our Census figures are a little out of date, but these suburbs are fairly well established so the number of dwellings shouldn’t be too different to what there is today.
Armadale does indeed figure high on this measure. The 394 home burglaries factored against the 5800 dwellings gives an incidence of 67 burglaries per thousand dwellings. That is higher than Rockingham and Mandurah, but lower than other suburbs that did not rate a mention. And whilst Peppermint Grove was touted as one of the safest suburbs – only 24 home burglaries – at a rate of 41 per thousand dwellings you’re more likely to get burgled in Peppermint Grove than in Rockingham.
Back to our opening argument – that crime statistics can have an impact on the property market. Thankfully, most people don’t place this foremost in their mind when selecting where to live. And people choosing a regional centre or an inner city location do so knowing that there will be some negatives alongside the positives.
However, when reviewing crime statistics, they really do need to be looked at through the lens of incidence per thousand … people, or dwellings, or cars (for car thefts) … and grouped by types of location (regional centre, inner city, suburb, etc.).
If you are now faced with this negative perception due to the recent reporting from the WA Police, then maybe rephrasing this data, as we have done above may assist your cause. If you are interested in discussing this matter further than feel free to contact PropertyESP on firstname.lastname@example.org.