Crime data ‘gold’ inspires Solomon Lecture

Professor Anna Stewart, from Griffith's School of Criminology and Criminal Justice, will deliver the 2013 Solomon Lecture

Improved access to Queensland crime data is enhancing research, government accountability and crime prevention strategies.

According to Griffith University’s Professor Anna Stewart, the proactive and regular release of information from government departments, especially the Queensland Police Service, has created a system of collaboration with clear benefits for the community.

As one whose expertise is built upon the analysis of government-held data – now increasingly available through the Right to Information push model – tomorrow (September 28) Professor Stewart will deliver the 2013 Solomon Lecture as part of Queensland’s Right to Information Day.

The annual lecture was launched in 2009 by the Queensland Office of the Information Commissioner. It honours Dr David Solomon AM, Chairman of the 2007-08 Independent Freedom of Information Review Panel and now Queensland’s Integrity Commissioner.

Professor Stewart’s lecture is entitled Finding Gold in Mountains of Administrative Data and will be introduced by Queensland Police Commissioner Ian Stewart.

A former Head of Griffith’s School of Criminology and Criminal Justice and the founder of the influential Justice Modelling at Griffith research program, Professor Stewart’s work with government administrative data goes back 20 years. However, she is quick to affirm the difference between then and now.

“The Right to Information Act and Information Privacy Act were introduced in Queensland in 2009 and they have made access to government data so much easier. The vibe has changed and that’s been a very good thing,” Professor Stewart said.

“The old attitude was protectionist and risk-averse. Now we can make use of a resource that still respects people’s privacy, but is also rich in detail and links across many areas of government and into the community.”

Professor Stewart said that research defining likely offenders and the locations of criminal activity could inform policy and the deployment of government and non-government resources in particular areas.

“Currently, I’m looking at the long-term mental health consequences for abused children,” Professor Stewart said. “Many serious offenders were themselves victims as children and often the pattern of offending is entrenched from early in life.”

Professor Stewart is also eager to establish a “crime data lab” at Griffith University, one meeting national security requirements, using approved researchers and capitalising on the huge potential to better understand criminal behaviour and target crime prevention and control.

“Shared data becomes a vital resource for creating stronger communities,” Professor Stewart said.

Information Commissioner Ms Rachael Rangihaeata said: “Right to Information Day is designed to promote individuals’ right of access to information and open, transparent government.

“The 2013 Solomon Lecture discusses the importance of increasing access to government-held information through the ‘push model’, as recommended by Dr David Solomon in 2008.”

Professor Stewart’s lecture has been pre-recorded and is available on the OIC’s website at