Criminal histories: Co-offending in property crime in Australia, 1861-1961

L. Vogel1*, A. Piper2

1 Griffith Criminology Institute, Griffith University
2 Griffith Criminology Institute, Griffith University

*corresponding author:

Perhaps one of the more robust findings in criminology research is that crime is often committed with others. As a result the phenomenon of co-offending has attracted considerable contemporary scholarly interest. Much of this research has focused on quantitatively examining the correlates or predictors of co-offending. Such research suggests, for instance, that age, gender, and offence type influence the odds of co-offending whereby co-offending is more common in female offenders, in the committal of property offences, and declines as offenders age. However, what can we learn about co-offending by exploring its past?

The Australian Research Council funded Prosecution Project offers a unique opportunity to quantitatively and qualitatively explore the evolution of co-offending in Australia. This project is digitising the historical criminal trial records from most Australian jurisdictions and linking these records to other archival material such as prison records and media reports. Such historical data offers a unique opportunity to explore population-level trends in co-offending across time in combination with micro-level trends in co-offending across the lifespan of individual criminal careers. This particular paper will outline initial exploratory results from work undertaken in data linkage between trial records, prison registers, and media reports to reconstruct the criminal careers of property offenders across 100 years. In addition to the personal characteristics of offenders and their various crime incidents, this data linkage can identify details of their lives, prosecution and prison experiences, and the way in which they were perceived by the justice system and broader society. Taking an interdisciplinary historical/criminological approach, we will explore not only the evolution of co-offending in property crime at the micro-level but also highlight the unique insights and opportunities that historical criminological research holds.


Dr. Lauren Vogel has a PhD and Bachelors degree in Psychology. She is currently a Research Fellow in the Griffith Criminology Institute, primarily working on the Prosecution Project – an ARC Laureate project exploring the history of the criminal trial in Australia, circa 1850-1960. With a diverse and multi-disciplinary background in research, teaching, and consultancy, Lauren is particularly interested in the analytical and quantitative components of the Prosecution Project.

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