Homicide in Canada, 2013
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Canadian police services reported 505 homicides in 2013, 38 fewer than the previous year. The homicide rate fell 8% from 2012 to 1.44 victims per 100,000 population. This marks the lowest homicide rate since 1966.
The overall decrease in homicides was the result of 40 fewer homicides reported in Quebec. The decrease in Quebec followed two years with higher than average numbers of homicides. There were 68 homicides in the province in 2013, representing a rate of 0.83 per 100,000 population. This was the lowest rate recorded in Quebec since reporting began in 1961.
While Quebec experienced a marked decline, six provinces reported modest increases in the number of homicides in 2013. Taking these increases into account, the homicide rates in nearly every province and territory were below their 10-year averages in 2013. The exceptions were Newfoundland and Labrador and Prince Edward Island, where the 2013 homicide rates were above their previous 10-year average.
Homicide rates continued to be generally highest in the West and the North. Provincially, Manitoba reported the highest homicide rate (3.87 per 100,000 population), followed by Saskatchewan (2.71), Alberta (2.04) and British Columbia (1.66). Nunavut (11.24) and the Northwest Territories (4.59) reported homicide rates higher than any province, while there were no homicides in Yukon for the third consecutive year.
Among Canada's census metropolitan areas (CMAs), Regina reported the highest homicide rate (3.84 per 100,000 population), followed by Winnipeg (3.24) and Thunder Bay (2.46). Homicide rates were below the national average in Canada's two largest CMAs, Toronto (1.34) and Montréal (1.08), while the third largest CMA, Vancouver (1.72), reported a homicide rate above the national average. No homicides were reported in Moncton, Saguenay, Sherbrooke, Peterborough or Guelph in 2013.
Firearm-related homicides down, but fatal stabbings increase
There were 131 firearm-related homicides in 2013, down 41 from 2012. This resulted in the lowest rate of firearm-related homicide since comparable data became available in 1974. Despite the decline, shooting was the cause of death in about one-quarter (27%) of homicides.
The majority (68%) of firearm-related homicides were committed with the use of a handgun, a trend that has held over the last 20 years. Despite this trend, the rate of handgun-related homicides reached its lowest point since 1998.
While firearm-related homicides decreased in 2013, the number of fatal stabbings grew. There were 195 fatal stabbings, 31 more than in 2012. Stabbings accounted for 40% of all homicides in Canada in 2013.
Gang-related homicide declines
Police confirmed or suspected the involvement of gangs in 85 homicides in 2013. This compares with 96 reported in the previous year and marks the first decline after three years of no change. The rate of gang-related homicide was 0.24 per 100,000 population, its lowest level since 2004.
The rate of gang-related homicide was highest in British Columbia and Manitoba, the only two regions where the number of gang-related homicides increased compared with 2012. Among CMAs, Kelowna and Regina recorded the highest rates of gang-related homicide. Rates of gang-related homicide tend to be higher in CMAs than in non-CMAs, a trend that continued in 2013.
Most victims knew the accused person
Almost 9 in 10 (87%) solved homicides in 2013 involved a victim being killed by someone they knew, compared with 13% of victims who were killed by a stranger. As a result, the rate of stranger homicide (0.14 per 100,000 population) was the lowest recorded in over 40 years.
More specifically, victims of homicide in 2013 typically knew the accused person as an acquaintance (45%), a family member (33%) or through a criminal relationship (9%). While the number of homicides involving strangers decreased 25% in 2013, those involving acquaintances or non-spousal family members were relatively stable. The number of homicides committed in the context of a criminal relationship increased 57% from 23 to 36.
Fewer intimate partner homicides
The number of victims of intimate partner homicide (homicide committed by a current or former spouse, common-law partner, dating partner or other intimate partner) decreased in 2013. There were 68 intimate partner homicides reported in 2013, 14 fewer than in the previous year. As has been the case historically, most victims of intimate partner homicides were female (82%).
The rate of intimate partner homicide for both male and female victims has declined considerably over the past two decades. The 2013 intimate partner homicide rate for males was 73% lower than it was in 1993, while the rate for females (-48%) declined by nearly half over the same period.
Most solved homicides are solved within one week of their occurrence
Since 2003, about three-quarters (76%) of all homicides that occurred have been solved by police. Of these, nearly 7 in 10 (69%) were solved within 7 days. A further 26% were solved between 8 and 364 days, while 5% were solved one year or more after the incident occurred.
Of homicides that have been committed and solved since 2003, the median length of time between the homicide occurring and being solved was 2 days. Gang-related homicides (6 days) and homicides related to the illegal drug trade (7 days) had a longer median length of time between occurring and being solved. Gang-related homicides committed with the use of a firearm had a median of 16.5 days between occurring and being solved by police.
Note to readers
The data presented in this article are drawn from the 2013 Homicide Survey, which collects police-reported information on the characteristics of all homicide incidents, victims and accused persons in Canada. The Homicide Survey began collecting information on all murders in 1961 and was expanded in 1974 to include all incidents of manslaughter and infanticide. Although details on these incidents are not available prior to 1974, counts are available from the Uniform Crime Reporting Survey and have been included in the historical aggregate totals.
There are cases where homicides become known to police months or years after they occurred. These incidents are counted in the year in which they become known to police. Historical revisions are not made to total counts of incidents or victims. New information pertaining to the detailed information on homicides that have already been reported to Statistics Canada is updated annually as is information on accused persons.
Information on persons accused of homicide are only available for solved incidents (that is, where at least one accused has been identified). For incidents involving more than one accused, only the relationship between the victim and the closest accused is recorded.
Revised data on the Aboriginal identity of victims that were reported to Statistics Canada as a result of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) report Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women: A National Operational Overview are not included in this release and are planned for release with the 2014 Homicide Survey data.
The article "Homicide in Canada, 2013" in Juristat (Catalogue number85-002-X) is now available. From the Browse by key resource module of our website under Publications, choose All subjects, then Crime and justice, and Juristat.
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