Police-reported hate crimes

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Canadian police services reported 1,473 hate crimes in 2009, up by 437 incidents, or 42%, from the previous year. This followed a 35% increase in 2008.

Over half (54%) of police-reported hate crimes in 2009 were motivated by race or ethnicity, 29% by religion and 13% by sexual orientation.

All three primary motivations for hate crime increased in 2009. The largest increase was among those motivated by religion, which rose 55% in 2009. The number of racially-motivated hate crimes increased 35%, while those motivated by sexual orientation went up 18%.

Violent offences, such as assault, accounted for about 4 in 10 hate crimes reported by police. Violent offences were particularly more common among hate crimes motivated by sexual orientation.

Over half (54%) of police-reported hate crimes involved mischief offences, such as graffiti or vandalism.

Rates of hate crime tended to be highest among youth and young adults for both victims and individuals accused of hate crime.

Hate crimes against Arabs or West Asians double in 2009

The number of police-reported hate crimes against all racial groups rose in 2009. The largest increase involved hate crimes against Arabs or West Asians, which doubled from 37 incidents in 2008 to 75 in 2009.

Blacks continued to be the most commonly targeted racial group, accounting for 272 incidents in 2009, and about 38% of all racially-motivated incidents.

Hate crimes against the Jewish faith increase substantially

As in previous years, 7 in 10 religiously-motivated hate crimes were committed against the Jewish faith in 2009. Police reported 283 such hate crimes in 2009, up 71% from 2008.

Hate crimes against the Muslim faith (Islam) increased from 26 incidents in 2008 to 36 in 2009. Police reported 33 hate crimes against Catholics, 3 more than in 2008.

Increases mainly in four large metropolitan areas

In 2009, four census metropolitan areas accounted for most of the increase in police-reported hate crime, led by Ottawa, where the number of incidents increased by 83, Toronto (+79), Kitchener–Cambridge–Waterloo (+62) and Montréal (+61).

Note to readers

Police-reported hate crimes refer to criminal incidents that, upon investigation by police, are determined to have been motivated by hate towards an identifiable group. The incident may target race, colour, national or ethnic origin, religion, sexual orientation, language, sex, age, mental or physical disability, or other factors such as profession or political beliefs.

Police-reported hate crime data have been collected on an annual basis since 2006 and cover 87% of the population of Canada. This Juristat article focuses on 2009 data, the most up-to-date information available on the extent and nature of police-reported hate crime in Canada.

The number of hate crimes presented in this release likely undercounts the true extent of hate crime in Canada, as not all crimes are reported to police. Self-reported victimization data from Canadians suggests that about one-third (34%) of incidents perceived by respondents to have been motivated by hate were subsequently reported to police.

Kitchener–Cambridge–Waterloo reported the highest rate of police-reported hate crimes at just under 18 incidents for every 100,000 population. This city's rate was followed closely by Guelph, Peterborough and Ottawa.

The number of hate crimes in a given area can be influenced by the public's willingness to report incidents to police as well as local police service practices and awareness campaigns.

Definitions, data sources and methods: survey numbers, including related surveys, 3302 and 4504.

The Juristat article "Police-reported hate crime in Canada, 2009" (85-002-X, free), is now available. From the Key resource module of our website under Publications, choose All subjects, then Crime and Justice, and Juristat.

For more information, or to enquire about the 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.