Ranking crime

The Fairfax broadsheets are having some fun with the ABS’s attempt to rank criminal offences.

“Theft of intellectual property” comes in at 73, one above actual physical theft from a retail premises, suggesting that it’s more serious to download a compact disc illegally than it is to walk into a store and steal one.

Surely the bigger problem here is that it is hard to rank theft independently of the value of what is stolen? Illegally copying a song is less serious than walking out of a shop with a laptop or camera without paying for it. But illegally copying valuable software is more serious than pinching a $1.50 newspaper.

Why is possessing illicit drugs (rank 124 out of 157) worse than actually using illicit drugs (rank 125)? And surely we have curious standards if desiring illicit drugs ranks so lowly while while meeting that desire is covered by a series of offences from rank 14 (importation) to 22 (dealing and trafficking). There would be no supply if there was no demand.