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The Daily. Tuesday, July 18, 2000
The national crime rate, based on data reported by police, fell for the eighth consecutive year in 1999, driven by declines in the three largest provinces. The 5.0% decrease resulted in the lowest rate in 20 years.
The overall crime rate fell 7.8% in Quebec, 7.4% in Ontario and 4.9% in British Columbia. However, not all regions followed the national trend. Crime rates in all four Atlantic provinces and the Yukon increased, while those in Manitoba and Alberta were virtually unchanged. The crime rate dropped in each of the country's nine largest metropolitan areas.
Saskatchewan reported a crime rate of 12,155 criminal incidents for every 100,000 population, compared with the national average of 7,733. This was the highest among the provinces for the second consecutive year, despite a decline of 2.5% in 1999. British Columbia followed with 11,586 incidents for every 100,000 people. Newfoundland continued to have the lowest crime rate, followed closely by Quebec. All three territories reported crime rates higher than any of the provinces.
Numerous factors contribute to changes in the crime rate. While this report does not attribute reasons for the recent decreases in crime, some of the possible explanations include the aging of the population, a healthy economy, and new approaches to both preventing and solving crimes.
Police reported just over 291,000 incidents of violent crime in 1999; 62% were minor assaults. The rate for violent crime fell 2.4% in 1999, the seventh consecutive decrease after 15 years of increases. The 1999 rate was still 5% higher than the rate of 1989, and 57% higher than that of 1979.
As in previous years, Saskatchewan and Manitoba reported the highest violent crime rates among the provinces. The violent crime rate increased 3.4% in Quebec, yet the province still had the lowest rate, and Prince Edward Island the second-lowest.
All major categories of violent crime declined in 1999, including homicide (-4.7%), attempted murder (-8.8%), assault (-2.0%), sexual assault (-7.3%), and robbery (-1.5%).
The national homicide rate has generally been falling since the mid-1970s. This trend continued in 1999; 536 homicides were reported by police, 22 fewer than the previous year. The 1999 homicide rate - 1.76 homicides for every 100,000 people - was the lowest since 1967.
British Columbia, with 110 homicides, reported the highest provincial homicide rate (2.7 homicides per 100,000 population), followed by Manitoba (2.3). Newfoundland's two homicides gave it the lowest rate (0.4), followed closely by Prince Edward Island (0.7) with just one homicide. The number of homicides in Saskatchewan fell from 33 in 1998 to 13 in 1999, giving the province its lowest homicide rate in more than 30 years.
Among major metropolitan areas, Thunder Bay reported the highest homicide rate (3.2), followed by Vancouver (2.8) and Victoria (2.8). No homicides were reported in Trois-Rivières for the second consecutive year.
The presence of firearms in violent crime continues to diminish. In 1999, 4.1% of violent crimes involved a firearm, compared with 5.6% in 1995. Robberies with a firearm have been dropping since 1991; in 1999 it was 50% lower than in 1991. Firearms continue to account for about one in three homicides.
Police reported 1.3 million property crime incidents in 1999, more than half of which were minor thefts under $5,000. The property crime rate dropped 6.4% in 1999, continuing the general decline seen since 1991.
Rates fell for all major categories of property crime, particularly break-ins, which were down 10.1%. Police reported 197,781 residential break-ins in 1999, almost 24,000 fewer than in 1998, the third consecutive decline.
Toronto reported the lowest rate of residential break-ins (371 per 100,000 population) among major metropolitan areas; Thunder Bay had the second-lowest rate (448). Saskatchewan had the highest rate of break-ins in the country, as well as the metropolitan areas with the highest rates, Regina (1,592) and Saskatoon (1,055).
In 1999, 161,405 motor vehicles were reported stolen, or about 442 a day. The rate of motor vehicle theft declined for the third year in a row, after growing steadily over the previous 10 years. The motor vehicle theft rate was still 44% higher in 1999 than in 1989.
Selected criminal incidents reported by police
|1999||1999||1998 to 1999|
|number||rate(1)||% change in rate|
|Violent crimes - total||291,330||955||-2.4|
|Assaults - total (levels 1, 2 and 3)||221,281||726||-2.0|
|Sexual assaults - total (levels 1, 2 and 3)||23,872||78||-7.3|
|Other sexual assaults||3,301||11||-4.9|
|Property crime - total||1,300,650||4,266||-6.4|
|Break and enter||318,448||1,044||-9.9|
|Motor vehicle theft||161,405||529||-3.5|
|Theft over $5,000||22,478||74||-5.5|
|Theft $5,000 and under||679,095||2,227||-5.6|
|Possession of stolen goods||28,656||94||-2.5|
|Other Criminal Code - total||765,791||2,512||-3.5|
|Disturbing the peace||69,982||230||6.0|
|Total Criminal Code (excluding traffic offenses||2,357,771||7,733||-5.0|
|1||Rates are calculated on the basis of 100,000 population.|
Among the metropolitan areas, Regina reported the highest rate of motor vehicle thefts (1,646 per 100,000 population). Winnipeg had the second-highest rate, contributing to Manitoba's top ranking among the provinces. The lowest rates were reported in Saint John, N.B. (176), and Windsor, Ont. (252).
Only two offences have shown an increase over the past few years. Drug offences have increased 32% since 1993, primarily due to increases in possession and cultivation of cannabis. Similarly, disturbing the peace offences have increased 31% since 1995.
Police charged 73,148 persons with impaired driving in 1999, virtually unchanged from the previous year. The rate of impaired driving has remained stable over the past two years following a 15-year downward trend.
Young people aged 14 to 19 have the highest rates of committing both violent and property crimes, according to data from 164 police services. Those accused of property crimes are generally younger than those accused of committing violent crimes; in 1999, the average age of individuals accused of committing a property crime was 22, compared with 29 for a violent crime.
Almost 100,000 youths aged 12 to 17 were charged by police in 1999. The youth crime rate dropped 7.2% in 1999, the seventh consecutive decline. The rate was 21% lower than it was a decade earlier.
The rate of youths charged with violent crime dropped 5.0%, the fourth decline in a row. This was the largest year-over-year decline since the introduction of the Young Offenders Act in 1984. Despite these recent drops, the youth violent crime rate was still 40% higher than it was in 1989.
From 1989 to 1999, female youth violent crime has increased 81%, more than 2.5 times the rate of increase among male youths (+30%). However, the male youth violent crime rate was still almost three times higher than the female rate. In 1999, the violent crime rate dropped for both male (-4.6%) and female (-6.5%) youths.
A total of 45 youths were charged with homicide in 1999, 9 fewer than in 1998, and 6 fewer than the average over the last 10 years.
Because many non-violent young offenders are diverted from the formal justice system, the trend in the number of youths referred to alternative measures programs by police or who receive informal warnings or cautions should also be examined when measuring the extent of youth crime. While not all police services are able to provide these statistics, those that do show that the number of youths diverted has also been decreasing in recent years.
Available on CANSIM: matrix 2198-2200.
Juristat: Canadian crime statistics, 1999 (85-002-XPE, $10/$93; 85-002-XIE, $8/$70) is now available. See How to order products.
For more information, or to enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact Information and Client Services (1-800-387-2231; 613-951-9023), Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics.
Crime rates by province and territory
|Violent crime||Property crime||Total Criminal Code offenses(1)|
|1999||1998 to 1999||1999||1998 to 1999||1999||1998 to 1999|
|rate(2)||% change in rate||rate(2)||% change in rate||rate(2)||% change in rate|
|Prince Edward Island||685||-5.7||2,984||9.1||6,858||9.7|
|1||Total Criminal Code includes other Criminal Code offences not shown in this table.|
|2||Rates are based on 100,000 population.|
Crime rates for Census Metropolitan Areas
|Violent crime||Property crime||Total Criminal Code incidents(1)|
|1999||1998 to 1999||1999||1998 à 1999||1999||1998 to 1999|
|CMA(2)||rate(3)||% change in rate||rate(3)||% change in rate||rate(3)||% change in rate|
|1||Total Criminal Code offences also include other Criminal Code offences not shown in this table.|
|2||Data for Oshawa and St. John's CMAs are not available. A CMA may include more than one police service.|
|3||Rates are based on 100,000 population.|
|4||Ottawa refers to the Ontario portion of the Ottawa-Hull CMA.|
|5||Hull refers to the Quebec portion of the Ottawa-Hull CMA.|