NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics study

People with disabilities are more than twice as likely to be victims of violent crime as the general population, while victims of violence with disabilities are about 17% less likely to have their case taken to court or see an outcome out of court .

The numbers are even worse for victims with cognitive impairments, who are younger and Indigenous, according to a report released Monday by the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics.

The first study of its kind confirmed what many in the field believed about the link between disability and being a victim of violence.Credit:iStock

The study is the first of its kind, linking data from NSW and Commonwealth Disability Services with crime data to identify the disability status of people who came into contact with the criminal justice system between 2014 and 2018, either as victims or as perpetrators.

Study co-author Dr Suzanne Poynton, director of research and evaluation at BOCSAR, said there had long been “an understanding that people with disabilities could potentially be overrepresented”, but until By now, they had not been significantly identified in crime data.

The report confirmed this understanding: compared to the total population of NSW, people with disabilities were more than twice as likely to be victims of reported violence and domestic violence offences.

Being younger, female, and Aboriginal also increased risk, as did having a cognitive disability or multiple disabilities. Victimization rates for Indigenous women with disabilities were “very, very high,” Poynton said. Over the five-year period, 18% of this group were victims of a violent crime.

Poynton said it was possible the study also underestimated the extent of the risk, because the disability services data only captured adults under the age of 64. Children and the elderly, who may be more vulnerable, fell outside its scope.

Disturbingly, the study found that people with disabilities were also around 17% less likely to have their reports of violence end up in court or, in the case of minor incidents or cases involving juvenile offenders, dealt with by other means such as an infringement notice or a warning. .

While about 44% of violent crimes ended in court or other outcomes, those involving victims with disabilities only did so in 38% of cases. This number fell to 34% for victims with a cognitive disability, and even lower – 32 to 33% – if the cognitive disability was one of multiple disabilities.