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Australia 2018 Crime & Safety Report: Perth

 

According to the current U.S. Department of State Travel Advisory at the date of this report’s publication, Australia has been assessed as Level 1: Exercise normal precautions.

Overall Crime and Safety Situation

U.S. Consulate General Perth does not assume responsibility for the professional ability or integrity of the persons or firms appearing in this report. The American Citizen Services (ACS) unit cannot recommend a particular individual or establishment, and assumes no responsibility for the quality of services provided.

The U.S. Department of State has assessed Perth as being a LOW-threat location for crime directed at or affecting official U.S. government interests.

Please review OSAC’s Australia-specific page for original OSAC reporting, consular messages, and contact information, some of which may be available only to private-sector representatives with an OSAC password.

Crime Threats

In general, crime rates in Perth are comparatively lower than those of most U.S. cities and areas of a similar size. Americans tend to blend in with the general population in Australia. Perth’s central business district is safe and densely populated during daylight hours. With the majority of Perth’s population residing in outlying suburbs, the area quickly empties at night. Visitors should exercise caution when walking through these areas after dark.

There were 85,534 thefts reported in the 2016-17 financial year, reflecting an 8.4% decrease from the previous reporting period. There were 26,731 burglaries reported on dwellings (a 5.5% decrease) and 8,845 burglaries on non-dwellings (an 11% decrease).

Vehicle thefts continue to decrease due to the introduction of immobilizers and other vehicle security technology. There were 7,990 reported vehicle thefts in the 2016/17 financial year, reflecting an 8.5% decrease from the previous reporting period. Vehicle theft through the burglary of keys from homes, however, has become more common. The risk of residential burglaries can be reduced by installing an alarm system and motion-detection lighting, as well as utilizing locking devices on windows and doors.

According to the Western Australia Police, there were 19,351 domestic-related assaults (a 4.5% decrease) and 12,041 non-domestic assaults (a 3% increase) reported in the 2016/17 financial year. The Australian Bureau of Statistics reports that between 2012 and 2016 the proportion of women who experienced violence remained steady. In 2012, an estimated 5.3% of women experienced violence compared to 4.7% in 2016. Between 2012 and 2016, there was a significant decrease in the proportion of men who experienced violence. In 2012, an estimated 8.7% of men experienced violence, compared to 6% in 2016.

Victims of assault commonly reported that no weapon was used by the offender, and a larger proportion of victims reported knowing the offender. Australia has extremely restrictive firearms controls, rendering the purchase, licensing, and storage of firearms very difficult compared to the U.S. Firearms ownership is common in rural, agricultural areas for vermin control. Military-grade firearms (semi-automatic, high powered weapons) are illegal. With the exception of rare events involving organized criminal elements, firearms-related offenses are rare in Western Australia.

The Western Australia Police considers any theft or attempted theft accompanied by acts or threats of violence to be a robbery. There were 1,342 robberies reported in the 2016/17 financial year (a decrease of 2%). The Australian Bureau of Statistics reports nearly half of all robberies involved the use of a weapon, with a knife being used in just over one in five times and a gun being used in less than one in 10.

Western Australian Police reported 9,553 drug offenses in 2016/17 (an increase of 14.5%). The number of drug offenses continues to rise and has increased 21% over a five year average. Drug-related crime is believed to have a direct causal effect on other crime statistics.

Overall, Western Australia Police report offenses against individuals had increased by 1.5%, while offenses against property had decreased by 7.5%. The incidence of both categories of crime, however, remain relatively low compared to other major cities.

Elements of organized crime exist in Western Australia. The most prominent elements are outlaw motorcycle groups (OMG). OMG members are often identifiable through gang clothing, called colors.

Incidents of card skimming have been reported. Travelers should inspect ATMs for the presence of skimming devices and cover ATM keypads when entering PINs. Card skimming machines have also been used by taxi drivers and international organized crime groups. For more information, please review OSAC’s Report, “The Overseas Traveler’s Guide to ATM Skimmers & Fraud.”

Travelers should also monitor the SCAM Watch website, maintained by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), for the latest information on how to recognize, avoid, and report scams.

Cybersecurity Issues

Cyber criminals gain access to networks primarily through spear phishing, which remains the greatest cybersecurity threat. The chief motivation for cyberattacks appears to be that of financial gain. The theft or breach of confidential information and/or intellectual property remains the business community’s greatest cyber security concern.

Free Wi-Fi hot spots and internet cafes are commonly available. Many of these networks, however, are not considered to be secure and may be vulnerable to cyberattacks. Travelers should avoid conducting sensitive conversations and/or financial transactions when utilizing public/unsecured networks.

Areas of Concern

After-hours entertainment areas typically experience relatively higher rates of assaults and alcohol/drug-fueled crime. One punch attacks (coward attacks) have become more prominent in recent years. These incidents typically occur in the close vicinity of licensed premises and are almost always involve the consumption of drugs or alcohol. For more information, please review OSAC’s Report “Shaken: The Don’ts of Alcohol Abroad.”

Transportation-Safety Situation

For more information, please review OSAC’s Report, “Security in Transit: Airplanes, Public Transport, and Overnights.”

Road Safety and Road Conditions

Australian road safety is considered to be excellent. Speeding is enforced via speed cameras and police traffic patrols.

Random breath testing and drug checkpoints operate frequently with varied times and locations. Drivers are required by law to submit to random breathalyzer, if requested by a police officer. A driver is in violation of the law if driving with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .05% or greater. Police have the power to stop drivers suspected of driving while impaired by any drug and those found with illicit drugs in their oral fluid can be charged with an offence.

If you are involved in a motor vehicle accident, you are legally required to stop and give assistance to injured persons. Each party is required to provide name, address, registration details, and vehicle owner’s name/address to the other party involved. This includes the owner of the property damaged or injured person (or a person representing them). Traffic accidents must be reported to the Western Australia Police. Persons injured in a motor vehicle accident may be covered by the state government’s compulsory third-party insurance. This insurance covers compensation for injuries only, not damage to property or medical costs. Compulsory third-party insurance is a condition of motor vehicle licensing. If a crash occurs involving an unlicensed vehicle, the driver and owner may be financially liable for the damages paid to the injured person. Further information can be obtained from the Insurance Commission of Western Australia.

The outback is extremely remote, and travelers should plan to bring appropriate food, water, and fuel supplies on long drives. If a breakdown occurs in a remote area, travelers should remain with their vehicle, as many travelers have perished in the outback after leaving their vehicles to look for help.

International drivers must carry their driver’s license with them when driving. For more information on self-driving, please review OSAC’s Report “Driving Overseas: Best Practices.”

Public Transportation Conditions

The use of taxis is a safe, reliable form of transportation. Taxi drivers are required to display their identification prominently in the vehicle (on the vehicle dashboard/windscreen visor).

Travelers should ensure the ID picture of the taxi driver matches the actual driver. Taxi drivers are not required to carry intoxicated passengers.

Public transport is safe and reliable during daylight hours; however, public order offenses increase at night. Transit police regularly travel on trains after hours. Travelers should be mindful that many trains and buses video record passengers for safety purposes. Assaults on public transport and near public transport hubs typically increase at night. Travelers should stick to well-illuminated, populated areas and be mindful that many crimes occur on the outskirts of train stations and public transport hubs.

Aviation/Airport Conditions

Australian international and domestic airports meet with International Civil Aviation Organization Standards. All international airports are policed by the Australian Federal Police.

Terrorism Threat

The U.S. Department of State has assessed Perth as being a MEDIUM-threat location for crime directed at or affecting official U.S. government interests.

Local, Regional, and International Terrorism Threats/Concerns

There have been six terrorist attacks and 14 disrupted plots in Australia since September 2014. Australia has been identified repeatedly by ISIS leadership as a desirable target. The potential return of dozens of Australian foreign fighters continues to pose a long-term risk, while homegrown extremists targeting host-nation security forces with basic, readily-available weapons may represent the greatest near-term threat. Active shooter incidents continue to be of high concern to law enforcement, as does the risk of vehicle attacks in places of mass gathering. The majority of recent terrorism-related incidents appear to have been perpetrated by young, homegrown Australians who have been influenced or inspired by ISIS.

In response to potential threats, Australian authorities have updated the National Terrorism Threat Advisory system to better inform Australians about the likelihood of a terrorist attack and to enable authorities, businesses, and individuals to take appropriate safety and security measures. The new system includes five tiers, ranging from “Not Expected” to “Certain.” The current terrorism threat advisory level is “Probable,” signifying that while there is no information regarding a specific, credible plot, individuals or groups have developed both the intent and capability to conduct a terrorist attack. Current guidance suggests that while those in Australia should go about their normal daily activities, they should exercise caution and remain aware of their surroundings. Individuals who see suspicious or unusual activity should contact Australia’s National Security Hotline at 1800 1234 00 and life threatening situations should be reported to the police by calling 000.

Anti-American/Anti-Western Sentiment

Incidents of political violence directed against the U.S. government, private citizens, or interests are relatively rare. The majority of protests near U.S. diplomatic facilities continue to be peaceful. Visits by high-level U.S. dignitaries will occasionally attract various organizations whose members protest a variety of topics.

Political, Economic, Religious, and Ethnic Violence

The U.S. Department of State has assessed Perth as being a LOW-threat location for political violence directed at or affecting official U.S. government interests.

Civil Unrest

Incidents of civil unrest are relatively uncommon. Occasionally, there are organized protests in/around government and diplomatic enclaves; however, these are typically peaceful. Visitors should be aware that the potential for violence during protests does exist and situations that might lead to a confrontation with protestors should be avoided.

Post-specific Concerns

Environmental Hazards

Australia can experience extreme weather conditions, with the warmer months having greater potential for large-scale fires. Bush fire season is November-April in the southwest and June-October in the northwest. Bush fires claim lives and cause millions of dollars in property damage.

There has been an increase in shark attacks in the southwest region, to include beaches in Perth. While shark attacks are extremely rare, travelers may consider avoiding swimming on days when visibility in the water is poor and consider swimming at shark net-protected beaches. Beach patrols of Perth suburban beaches are carried out between October and April by Surf Life Saving Club (SLSC) Volunteers.

Crocodiles exist in large numbers in the northwest Kimberley region and have been known to migrate as far south as Exmouth during the summer. Travelers should strongly avoid swimming in creeks and rivers in these areas.

Some venomous snakes are very dangerous and are most prevalent in outback bush areas.

For more information, please review OSAC’s Report “When Wildlife Attacks.”

The cyclone season is November-April. Cyclones mainly occur in the northwest; however, they can affect weather throughout the country. Travelers should monitor weather reports during the cyclone season.

Travelers should be aware of the impact any natural disaster will have on their visit. The RSO encourages Americans to follow the directions of emergency authorities, to review travel plans carefully, and to have contingencies. Western Australia’s Department of Fire and Emergency Services (DFES) provides regular updates during major bush fires, cyclones, and other state emergencies.

Critical Infrastructure

Australia’s critical infrastructure is relatively stable and secure compared to most countries. Major attacks on critical infrastructure are rare. The most likely threat to critical infrastructure continues to be from natural disasters (cyclones, bushfires, flooding). The Australian Security Intelligence Organization (ASIO) is responsible for providing intelligence and threat assessments to relevant commonwealth government departments, the Australian Federal Police (AFP), state police, and territory police.

Australia’s national critical infrastructure protection arrangements are coordinated by the National Counter-Terrorism Committee (NCTC), a national body comprised of representatives from the commonwealth, state, and territory governments. Australia relies heavily on intelligence and information sharing for critical infrastructure protection.

State and territory police meet with owners/operators of critical infrastructure, in accordance with jurisdictional arrangements, to provide information on the national and localized security threat context. Police will communicate directly with owners/operators of critical infrastructure in cases where there is an imminent, specific threat and will coordinate the operational response. Police also gather and disseminate intelligence to relevant agencies as required.

Economic Concerns

The Australian Security Intelligence Organization (ASIO) has emphasized that businesses are not immune from clandestine or deceptive activity conducted by foreign governments. ASIO works closely with businesses to counter these types of threats.

Several economic espionage incidents have been reported, particularly targeting the natural resource sectors.

In December 2015, the Australian Bureau of Meteorology reported a massive cyber security breach, which resulted in millions of dollars in damage. Many of these cyberattacks are believed to have originated from overseas.

Australia has strong counterfeiting and piracy legislation protecting patents, trademarks, and designs. Intellectual property owners are responsible for enforcing their own rights through private proceedings. Organizations should also ensure they do not accidentally infringe on the intellectual property of others.

Privacy Concerns

The Australian Privacy Act 1988 places strict controls on the storage and release of information. Travelers should be mindful of where personal identification information is stored or who has access to it. Private and public organizations must have the consent of the individual for the conduct of any background investigations. A failure to obtain an individual’s consent can result in serious prosecution. The Australian Privacy Act of 1988 requirements apply when seeking to release details to third parties.

Drug-related Crimes

Australia has a number of drug-related issues, including a growing user population, international drug importation, local clandestine laboratories, and an increasing number of individuals arrested for drug trafficking. Cannabis is the most widely abused drug in Australia, followed by ecstasy, methamphetamine, and cocaine. Australia is also seeing an increased use of illegal prescription drugs, performance enhancing drugs, and synthetic drugs (Kronic, Spice).

The legal drinking age is 18 in Western Australia. It is an offense (except where a permit or license applies) to drink liquor on any public road or street. This includes drinking in a motor vehicle on any public road.

Kidnapping Threat

Kidnappings are extremely rare. Deprivation of liberty offenses are normally domestic/sexual related and not linked to extortion/terrorism.

Police Response

Australian police organizations are well trained and professional. They have well-equipped emergency response teams (SWAT, EOD, negotiator) that can mobilize and respond to any incident with short notice.

How to Handle Incidents of Police Detention or Harassment

Complaints about the improper conduct of a Western Australia Police Officer can be directed to the Western Australia Police, Police Complaints on +61 (0)8 9223 1000. Complaints of serious corruption can be directed to the Crime and Corruption Commission (Western Australia) on +61 (0)8 9215 4888.

Americans can also seek assistance from the U.S. Consulate.

Crime Victim Assistance

000 can be dialed for any emergency. As this number is a call center, callers need to be prepared to provide basic information and services needed (fire, ambulance, police).

All crimes should be reported to the Western Australia Police for investigation and recording. The Western Australia government can provide specialist support services for victims of crime and their families.

Police/Security Agencies

The Australian Border Force is the Australian federal government agency responsible for managing the security and integrity of the border. It facilitates the movement of legitimate international travelers and goods, while protecting the safety, security, and commercial interests of Australians.

Medical Emergencies

Australia generally has a high level of professional emergency medical services. Ambulance service staffed by certified emergency medical technicians is the standard throughout most of Australia.

Medical emergencies: 000

Health Direct Australia: 1 800 022 222 (for general medical advice)

Poisons Information Centre: 13 11 26

Contact Information for Available Medical Services

For medical assistance, please refer to the Consulate’s Medical Assistance webpage.

Available Air Ambulance Services

Medical air evacuation is used in remote and urban areas depending on the degree of injury. The Royal Flying Doctor Service, Western Operations, provides services to people requiring care throughout Western Australia. The service operates five bases, (Jandakot, Kalgoorlie, Meekatharra, Port Hedland, Derby) flies 15 aircraft, assists over 70,000 patients each year, and employs 287 staff. The majority of patients transferred from remote and regional areas are taken to one of the major hospitals in the Perth metropolitan area.

Insurance Guidance

Australia has a strong insurance culture with citizens typically buying home insurance, motor vehicle insurance, and medical/health insurance. The primary body for the insurance industry is the Insurance Council of Australia. Australia’s Medicare system provides a subsidized health fund for Australian citizens and residents. Travelers are not covered by Australian Medicare and are strongly encouraged to obtain full travelers insurance.

Country-specific Vaccination and Health Guidance

The CDC offers additional information on vaccines and health guidance for Australia.

OSAC Country Council Information

There is an active OSAC Country Council in Perth. Interested private-sector security managers should contact OSAC’s East Asia and the Pacific team with any questions.

U.S. Consulate Location and Contact Information

Consulate Address and Hours of Operation

U.S. Consulate Perth

4th Floor

16 St. Georges Terrace

Perth, Western Australia 6000

Hours: Mon-Fri, 0800-1700 (excluding U.S. and Australian holidays)

Consulate Contact Numbers

(callers should drop the (0) when calling from the U.S.)

General Inquiries: +61-(0)8-6144-5100

After-hours emergencies involving U.S. Citizens: +61-(0)-8-9476-0081

Website: https://au.usembassy.gov/embassy-consulates/perth/

Nearby Posts

Embassy Canberra: https://au.usembassy.gov/

Consulate General Melbourne: https://au.usembassy.gov/embassy-consulates/melbourne/

Consulate General Sydney: https://au.usembassy.gov/embassy-consulates/sydney/

Additional Resources

Australia Country Information Sheet

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