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Victimization and offending in the North

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The Daily

Monday, October 30, 2006
2004 and 2005

The rate of violent victimization in Canada's territories, based on information provided by Canadians themselves, was almost three times the rate for residents in the rest of the country, according to data from a survey that examined the extent and nature of criminal victimization.

The report, prepared by the Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, also examines fear of crime, spousal violence and the number and types of police-reported crime in the territories.

Almost 4 in every 10 residents of the territories aged 15 and over reported that they were victimized at least once in the 12 months prior to being interviewed. This figure was well above the level of 28% for provincial residents who were victimized over the same time period.

The report also examines a number of individual, economic and social factors that seem to be associated with a higher risk of criminal victimization and offending. All are more common in the territories.

Northern residents tend to be younger on average than residents in the rest of Canada; they have higher proportions of lone-parent families and common-law families; they have higher rates of unemployment and they have higher proportions of Aboriginal residents, compared to the provinces.

Note to readers

This release is based on the profile Victimization and Offending in Canada's Territories. This paper is one in a series of profiles that present analysis on issues related to victimization, offending and public perceptions of crime and the justice system.

Some of the data in this report, particularly those on spousal violence, were released in The Daily of October 2, 2006, as part of the report Measuring Violence against Women: Statistical Trends. This current report contains a more in-depth examination of violence in the Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut.

The release presents findings from a test collection of data from the 2004 General Social Survey (GSS) on the nature and extent of criminal victimization experienced by residents of the territories as well as their fear of crime and their attitudes toward the justice system. Comparisons are made to results from the GSS data collected in the rest of Canada.

National data from the 2005 Uniform Crime Reporting Survey are also included to analyze the nature and extent of police-reported crimes committed in the territories. These results are compared to crimes occurring in the rest of Canada.

In this profile, the North includes Northwest Territories, Yukon and Nunavut.

Victimization rates are calculated per 1,000 population while police-reported crime rates are calculated per 100,000 population.

Northern residents more likely to fall victim to someone they know

Information on victimization in the North came from a pilot survey conducted in Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut, which asked approximately 1,300 people about their experiences with criminal victimization in the 12 months prior to the survey.

Anyone who reported that they had been victimized was asked for detailed information. This included where the incident occurred; whether the incident was reported to the police; the level of injury, and the use or presence of a weapon. Data from the pilot survey were compared with victimization data collected from the provinces through the 2004 General Social Survey.

Northern residents were over three times more likely than provincial residents to be victims of violent crime, specifically sexual assault, robbery and physical assault.

Violent incidents against northern residents were more likely to be committed by someone who was known to the victim. This was the case for 80% of incidents committed against residents of the territories, compared to 56% of those against provincial residents.

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On the other hand, northern residents were victimized by a stranger in 20% of all violent incidents, a proportion which was much lower than the 44% of violent incidents committed against residents of the provinces.

Despite their higher rates of violent victimization, northern residents were no more likely than their provincial counterparts to report their victimizations to the police. Over 7 in 10 incidents of violent crime that were committed against territorial residents went unreported to the police.

Incidents reported by victims in the North did not typically involve the use or presence of a weapon, such as a gun or a knife, or result in injury to the victim. In 2004, the accused had a weapon in 27% of violent incidents committed against violent crime victims in the territories, a figure which was similar to that in the provinces.

Northern victims suffered an injury in 43% of violent incidents committed against them, compared to one-quarter of violent incidents in the provinces.

Northern residents feel safer than those in the rest of Canada

Although northern residents experienced higher levels of violent victimization than did provincial residents, they were more likely to report feeling safe from crime.

In 2004, 54% of northern residents said they were "very satisfied" with their personal safety from crime, compared to 44% of residents in the rest of Canada.

Residents were also asked questions about whether they employed measures to make themselves safer from crime, including such things as locking the car doors for personal safety when alone in a car, planning a route with safety in mind and staying at home at night.

About 64% of northern residents reported the routine use of measures to make themselves safer from crime compared to 76% of provincial residents.

Northern residents less satisfied with some aspects of police performance

While the performance of the police was generally rated favourably both in the provinces and in the territories, in some instances, residents of the North were less satisfied with police than were provincial residents.

For example, 54% of residents in the territories said the police were doing a "good" job at ensuring the safety of citizens compared to 61% of provincial residents.

In addition, 48% of northerners rated the police favourably at enforcing the laws, compared to 59% of provincial residents.

Police-reported crime rates higher in the North

In 2005, Criminal Code incidents in the territories represented 1.4% of the national total, according to police-reported data.

Over half of incidents in the North were classified as "other" Criminal Code offences, such as mischief, counterfeiting and disturbing the peace, while 17% were violent and 18% were property offences.

While the volume of crime in the North in 2005 was relatively low, when taking into account differences in population, crime rates in the territories were over four times higher than rates in the rest of Canada.

Similar to results from the victimization survey, rates of violent crime committed in the North were much higher than in the provinces. Among the three territories, the violent crime rate was highest in Nunavut, followed closely by Northwest Territories. With a rate that was less than half that of the other territories, Yukon's violent crime rate was still over 1.5 times higher than the highest provincial rate, found in Saskatchewan.

The profile Victimization and Offending in Canada's Territories (85F0033MIE2006011, free) is now available as part of the Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics Profile Series. From the Publications module, under Free internet publications, choose Justice.

For more information, or to enquire about concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact Information and Client Services (toll-free 1-800-387-2231; 613-951-9023), Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics.

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