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Summary Analysis of Police Deaths in Australia: Implications for Prevention

NCJ Number
International Journal of Comparative and Applied Criminal Justice Volume: 33 Issue: 1 Dated: Spring 2009 Pages: 61-81
Troy Allard; Tim Prenzler
Date Published
21 pages
This study reports on the circumstances and immediate causes of police on-duty deaths in Australia from the establishment of police forces in the 19th century to 2007.
Longitudinal data for on-duty deaths of Australian police reflect patterns that are emerging in the international knowledge base regarding police on-duty deaths. Approximately 75 percent of police on-duty deaths in Australia were determined to be “accidental,” and as few as 25 percent resulted from an attack on an officer by an offender. The large majority of accidental deaths involved motor vehicle crashes. From a historical perspective, improvements in police procedures and technology since World War II have resulted in a significant reduction in the rate of officer on-duty fatalities in proportion to the number of police. The study concludes that further reductions in officer on-duty deaths are achievable through a stricter application of a wider range of prevention strategies, including curtailing speed in police vehicles; training police in how to make vehicle stops and manage roadblocks so the risk for vehicles striking officers during these events is significantly reduced; and improving risk management procedures in raids, sieges, arrests, and the serving of warrants. Data were obtained from the National Police Memorial’s online Honour Roll, which commemorates police killed while on-duty or who died as a result of performing their duties as officers. Brief, free-text narrative accounts of such incidents describe the circumstances of the deaths. The dataset covered approximately 726 police deaths recorded since the settlement of Australia. 4 tables, 2 figures, 3 notes and 29 references