Study: Perceptions of personal safety and crime

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In 2009, the vast majority (93%) of Canadians aged 15 years and older living in the provinces said they felt satisfied with their personal safety from crime. This proportion was similar to 2004, the last time this survey was conducted.

Despite higher rates of victimization, younger Canadians were more satisfied with their personal safety from crime than older Canadians. In 2009, 94% of Canadians aged 15 to 24 years said they felt very or somewhat satisfied, compared with 90% of Canadians aged 65 years and older.

Most Canadians said they felt safe at night. About 83% of Canadians said that they were not at all worried when home alone in the evening. Of those who walked alone in their neighbourhood at night, 90% said they felt safe doing so.

About 39% of Canadians reported having used a crime prevention method to protect themselves from becoming a victim of crime in the 12 months preceding the survey. The use of crime prevention measures was more common among Canadians who had been previously victimized (57%) than those who had not (32%).

The most common crime prevention method, reported by 27% of Canadians, was to change their routine or avoid certain people or places. About 13% said they had installed new locks or security bars and 10% had installed a burglar alarm or motion detector lights.

Canadians living in the eastern part of the country, where rates of both self-reported victimization and police-reported crime are generally lower, reported being more satisfied with their personal safety from crime than those in the west. In 2009, residents of Prince Edward Island were among those with the highest levels of satisfaction (97%) while residents in British Columbia were among those with the lowest (89%).

Among census metropolitan areas, levels of satisfaction with personal safety were highest in Kingston, Moncton, Guelph and Oshawa and lowest in Vancouver, Winnipeg and Edmonton.

Note: This release is based on a Juristat article that presents information on Canadians' perceptions of personal safety and crime. It examines their levels of satisfaction, their feelings of safety when performing various activities, their use of crime prevention techniques, and their perceptions of the prevalence of crime and social disorder in their neighbourhoods.

Data are drawn from the 2009 General Social Survey on Victimization, a self-reported survey conducted every five years on Canadians aged 15 years and older living in the 10 provinces.

Definitions, data sources and methods: survey number 4504.

The Juristat article "Canadians' perceptions of personal safety and crime, 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.