According to the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research, the rate of property crime in regional NSW was 59 per cent higher than in Sydney, and the rate of violent crime in regional NSW was 57 per cent higher than in Sydney last year. 

NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research executive director, Jackie Fitzgerald said in a statement that the larger gap in regions’ crime rates relative to Sydney was the result of a police crime reductions campaign, resulting in Sydney outpacing those in the regions between 2004 and 2023.  

“A long-standing feature of crime in NSW is that regional, rural, and remote locations tend to experience higher rates of crime than in the city,” he said.

“The gap has grown over time as crime decline in Sydney exceeded that in the regions from 2004 to 2023.”

Regional New South Wales has consistently experienced higher rates of violent crime than Greater Sydney. In 2004, violent crime was 25 per cent higher in regional areas, and by 2023, this gap had widened to 57 per cent.

In 2004, the average rate of property crime in Regional NSW was equivalent to the rate in Sydney; however, by 2023, the Sydney property crime rate was considerably lower than in Regional NSW.  

In the 20 years to 2023, the rate of property crime fell by 67 per cent in Greater Sydney compared to 48 per cent in Regional NSW. Due to the different rates of decline, in 2023, the rate of property crime in regional NSW was 59 per cent higher than in Sydney. 

The most current report from the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research (BOCSAR) indicates that male offenders constitute the majority in both property and violent crimes in both regional NSW and Greater Sydney.

The proportion of young individuals involved in property crime is lower, representing 28 per-cent in regional NSW and 20 per cent in Greater Sydney. In contrast, adults have a higher participation rate in violent crime, accounting for 82 per cent in regional NSW and 86 per cent in Greater Sydney. 

New South Wales Bureau of Crime Statistics and research in the Insights and Modelling team, Dr Alana Cook shared the factors that could have possibly prohibited the extent of the crime rate decline in the regions compared to that in Sydney.

“We know things like socioeconomic disadvantage and poverty, unemployment, drug and alcohol use, and things like the availability of recreational and educational opportunities for young people, Dr Cook said. 

“Some of these are felt more acutely in the regions or are not as readily available for people in remote and regional communities and areas.”

Talking about recent crime in Bondi Junction Westfield, Dr Cook said mental health ties into all the larger factors leading to crime mentioned above. 

“While it is difficult to say to what extent mental health does play into the patterns that we are seeing in regional New South Wales, I think it is definitely part of the picture in that not having enough access to services and entrenched problems that we see when we look at remoteness, what is available, and things like a social economic disadvantage,” Dr Cook said.

In March 2024, the government unveiled a $26.2 million set of reforms and initiatives to promote community safety and welfare, especially in remote NSW, where crime rates are still higher than in metropolitan areas.

Country Major Association chair Jamie Chaffey restated his requests with the ABC for an inquiry examining regional crime.

“The only way to really get to the bottom of these issues and have a pathway for the government to actually make meaningful change is to have an inquiry,” he said. 

“Where the hearings are in regional communities, people with that lived experience can come out and share that.” 

Dr Cook also believes that community engagement and collaboration are vital in crime prevention initiatives since the community is the one that is most aware of their concerns and understands how to best respond.