Police-reported crime statistics, 2017
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Police-reported crime in Canada, as measured by both the crime rate and the Crime Severity Index (CSI), increased for the third consecutive year in 2017. The national crime rate rose 1%, while the police-reported CSI increased 2%. This was the third consecutive increase in the CSI following an 11-year downward trend from 2003 to 2014. The CSI is a measure of police-reported crime that takes into account both the volume and severity of crime.
Most of Canada's provinces and territories reported increases in their CSI in 2017. The exceptions were Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island, Saskatchewan and British Columbia. From 2016 to 2017, more than half of Canada's census metropolitan areas (CMAs) reported increases in their CSI.
The 2% increase in the national CSI from 2016 to 2017 was the result of increases in numerous offences. Most notably, there were increases in the rate of police-reported incidents of sexual assault (level 1) (+13%), possession of stolen property (+15%), motor vehicle theft (+6%) and homicide (+7%). Combined, these offences accounted for just under half of the increase in the CSI.
Overall, Canadian police services reported over 1.9 million Criminal Code incidents (excluding traffic) in 2017, almost 45,300 more incidents than in 2016.
Detailed information is provided in the new Juristat article released today, "Police-reported crime statistics in Canada, 2017" and the accompanying infographic "Police-Reported Crime in Canada, 2017."
The police-reported crime rate and CSI include only those incidents that come to the attention of police, either through reporting by the public or pro-active policing. Results from the 2014 General Social Survey (GSS) on Victimization found that just under one-third (31%) of violent and non-violent incidents were reported to the police in 2014.
Six provinces and all the territories report increases in Crime Severity Index
From 2016 to 2017, six provinces and all the territories reported increases in their CSI. New Brunswick posted the largest increase (+11%). Fraud and breaking and entering were important factors in the higher CSI in New Brunswick.
Smaller increases in the CSI were reported in Nova Scotia (+6%), Alberta (+5%), Ontario (+5%), Manitoba (+3%) and Quebec (+2%). In the territories, the Northwest Territories had a 2% increase, while both Yukon and Nunavut reported increases of 1% in their CSI. Decreases in the CSI were reported in Newfoundland and Labrador (-9%), Prince Edward Island (-7%), Saskatchewan (-6%) and British Columbia (-5%).
As in previous years, a change in the rate of breaking and entering was a contributing factor behind changes in the CSIs for almost all provinces and territories. Higher numbers of sexual assaults (level 1) were an important contributor to the increased CSI in Quebec, and were also a factor in Nova Scotia, Ontario and the Northwest Territories.
Crime indicators for each province, territory and police service are available in the new interactive product, "Canadian Community Crime Tracker."
More than half of Canada's census metropolitan areas record increases in Crime Severity Index
From 2016 to 2017, more than half of Canada's CMAs reported increases in their CSI. The largest rises in the CSI were in Greater Sudbury (+25%), Moncton (+15%), Guelph (+15%) and Kitchener–Cambridge–Waterloo (+14%). Among other offences, breaking and entering, and fraud were important contributors to the increases in all of these CMAs.
The largest decreases in the CSI were in St. John's (-15%), Regina (-11%) and Vancouver (-6%). Lower rates of breaking and entering were an important driver of the change in all three of these cities. In Regina, a decrease in robbery also contributed to the decline. In Vancouver, in addition to lower rates of breaking and entering, declines in theft of $5,000 or under and child pornography were also factors in the city's lower CSI. Decreases in CSIs were also reported in Peterborough, Victoria, Kelowna, Saguenay, Abbotsford–Mission, Saskatoon and Brantford.
Police-reported crime rates higher in rural than urban areas
At the national level, rural areas have higher crime rates than urban areas. In 2017, rural police services served 17% of Canada's population, yet they reported 21% of the country's police-reported crime. Police in rural areas reported 25% of violent crime, 18% of property crime and 24% of other Criminal Code offences in Canada.
The crime rate in rural areas was 30% higher than in urban areas (6,581 versus 5,082 incidents per 100,000 population).
For the most part, urban and rural crime in Canada have followed similar trends since 2009. In 2017, the rural crime rate declined 1% while urban crime increased 2%. Violent, property and other crime all decreased in rural areas while they increased in urban areas.
In 2017, relatively high rural crime rates were reported in Manitoba (42% higher than the province's urban crime rate), Alberta (38% higher) and Saskatchewan (36% higher). Almost half of crime in Canada's rural areas occurred in these three provinces, which accounted for about a quarter of Canada's population served by rural police services.
In Manitoba and Saskatchewan, the high rates of rural crime were the results of higher rates of all types of crime (violent, property and other crime). In Alberta, however, the difference was largely due to high rates of property crime.
National homicide and attempted murder rates both increase in 2017
After little change in 2016, the national homicide rate increased 7% in 2017, moving from 1.69 homicides per 100,000 population to 1.80. Police reported 660 homicides, 48 more than in 2016. The 2017 homicide rate was higher than the average for the previous decade (1.67 per 100,000 population for 2007 to 2016).
The increase in the national number of homicides was largely a result of the greater number of homicides in British Columbia (+30) and Quebec (+26).
With a total of seven homicides in 2017, Thunder Bay recorded the highest homicide rate among the CMAs for the second year in a row (5.80 homicides per 100,000 population). Abbotsford–Mission (with 9 homicides) and Edmonton (with 49 homicides) had the next highest homicide rates (4.72 and 3.49 per 100,000 population, respectively). Saguenay was the only CMA to report no homicides in 2017.
The attempted murder rate in Canada increased 4% from 2016 to 2017, to 2.25 per 100,000 population. A 25% increase in the province of Quebec was the main contributor to the overall national increase. This was due to the January 2017 shooting at the Islamic Cultural Centre of Québec. This incident resulted in six homicide victims and 40 victims of attempted murder.
Increase in rate of police-reported sexual assaults in 2017
Sexual assault is one of the crimes least likely to be reported to police. A greater number of sexual assaults came to the attention of police in 2017, particularly following the height of social media campaigns that raised awareness on the issue.
In 2017, there were 24,672 police-reported sexual assaults, or 67 incidents per 100,000 population, marking an increase of 13% from 2016. This is the second consecutive annual increase in the rate of sexual assault.
Although police-reported rates of sexual assault have been on a downward trend since the early 1990s, the rate of self-reported incidents remained unchanged from 1999 to 2014, according to Canada's victimization survey.
From 2016 to 2017, the rate of police-reported sexual assaults increased in nine of the provinces and territories, the exceptions being Yukon (-17%), Nunavut (-6%), Saskatchewan (-5%), and Manitoba (no change). Increases were reported in the Northwest Territories (+22%), Quebec (+20%), New Brunswick (+19%), Nova Scotia (+18%), British Columbia (+16%) and Ontario (+15%).
Increases in rates of sexual assault were reported in almost all CMAs, with the exception of St. John's (-4%), Barrie (-3%), Winnipeg (-1%) and Saskatoon (no change).
As mentioned, considerable public discussion of issues around sexual violence, misconduct and police reporting took place in 2017, and this may have had an impact on the willingness of victims to report sexual assault incidents to police. In addition, 2017 saw renewed commitment from police to review their response to reports of sexual assault, including a review of files previously classified as "unfounded" (meaning police had determined that no criminal incident had taken place). In 2017, Statistics Canada worked with the policing community to address data quality issues and ensure standardized reporting among police services. Detailed information on unfounded sexual assaults and other crimes is provided in the new Juristat article released today, "Unfounded criminal incidents in Canada, 2017" and the accompanying infographic "Unfounded Sexual Assaults in Canada, 2017." These data are available for the first time since 2006.
Firearm-related violent crime continues to increase
The criminal use of firearms is a focus of concern for Canada, particularly in certain cities like Toronto where media reports have identified a growing number of shootings to date for 2018.
Statistics Canada's annual 2017 data show that there were more than 7,700 victims of violent crime in Canada where a firearm was present, continuing the upward trend that began in 2013 (excludes the province of Quebec and the Saint John Police Force due to data quality issues). Since 2009, about 6 in 10 firearm-related violent crimes have involved handguns.
The Criminal Code contains a number of specific violent offences involving the use of a firearm. The rate of these, which include discharge of a firearm with intent, pointing a firearm, and use of a firearm in the commission of an indictable offence, increased for the third year in a row (+7%). In total, there were 2,734 firearm-specific violent offences in 2017.
The increase in firearm-specific violent offences in Canada in 2017 was primarily due to Saskatchewan (+47% in rate, +116 incidents) and Ontario (+10%, +92 incidents). Most of the increase in the number of incidents of firearm-specific violent offences in Canada occurred outside of CMAs.
Homicides committed with a firearm have also been on the rise in recent years. Based on the latest annual homicide report, there were 223 firearm-related homicides in Canada in 2016, 54% of which were related to gang activity. The largest increases in the number of gang-related homicides committed with a firearm were reported in Ontario (+22) and British Columbia (+12), with these largely occurring in Toronto and Vancouver. With a total of 30 in 2016, the Toronto CMA saw 18 more gang-related homicides committed with a firearm than in 2015. The CMA of Vancouver saw 6 more, reporting a total of 16. Detailed homicide data for 2017 will be available in November.
Rates of cannabis offences decline for sixth year in a row
In Canada, drug offences such as possession, trafficking, importation and exportation, and production fall under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. In 2017, more than half of the over 90,000 drug offences reported by police were cannabis-related offences.
In 2017, possession, trafficking, importation and exportation, and production of cannabis for non-medical purposes fell under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act and were therefore prohibited by law. Bill C-45, an Act to legalize cannabis, was formally introduced in the House of Commons in April 2017, was passed in June 2018, and will come into force in October 2018.
Rates of cannabis-related drug offences have been declining in Canada since 2011. In 2017, this downward trend continued (-15%). There were close to 48,000 cannabis-related drug offences reported by police in 2017, about 8,000 fewer than in 2016. The majority of these offences (80%) were for possession. At 105 per 100,000 population in 2017, the rate of cannabis possession was 15% lower than in 2016. Although rates of cannabis offences have been falling since 2011 (-43%), they still accounted for 53% of drug crime reported by police.
Along with the decline in cannabis offences, there has been a drop in the number of persons charged. In 2017, the rate of persons charged with a cannabis-related offence declined 21% from 2016. Nearly three-quarters (74%) of the 18,637 people charged with cannabis-related offences in 2017 were charged with possession.
While the rate of cannabis- and cocaine-related drug offences has declined in recent years, other drug crime has increased steadily
After cannabis, drug offences involving cocaine accounted for the next most frequent type of drug crime (15%), followed by methamphetamines or ecstasy (13%) and heroin (4%). "Other drugs" such as prescription drugs, opioids (including fentanyl), and "date rape" drugs accounted for another 15% of drug crime.
Similar to the trend in cannabis-related offences, cocaine offences declined in 2017 for the fifth consecutive year, dropping 5% from 2016 to a rate of 38 incidents per 100,000 population. In contrast, the combined rate of possession, trafficking, production and importation or exportation of drugs other than cannabis and cocaine has been increasing steadily in recent years, up 78% since 2009.
From 2016 to 2017, the most notable increases were reported for possession (+13%) and trafficking, production or importation/exportation (+11%) of methamphetamines or ecstasy. The rate of possession (+3%), trafficking, production or importation/exportation (+5%) of "other drugs" also increased.
Police-reported impaired driving rate down for sixth consecutive year, but drug-impaired driving up
Police reported just over 69,000 alcohol- or drug-impaired driving incidents in 2017, about 2,200 fewer than the year before. The rate of impaired driving decreased by 4% in 2017 to 188 impaired driving incidents per 100,000 population, representing the sixth consecutive decline.
Almost all police-reported impaired driving incidents continued to involve alcohol in 2017 (95%), while 5% involved drugs. Unlike the decline in alcohol-impaired driving from 2016 to 2017, the rate for drug-impaired driving violations increased (+10%). In total, there were 3,489 drug-impaired driving violations in 2017, 353 more than the previous year. The number of impaired driving offences reported by police can be influenced by a number of factors, including changes in legislation, varying law enforcement practices across jurisdictions, and the availability of training and drug testing technology.
In 2017, the government introduced Bill C-46, which proposed certain amendments to the Criminal Code sections related to impaired driving, including giving police new powers to conduct alcohol and drug screening. Like Bill C-45, which legalizes the use of cannabis, Bill C-46 was passed in June 2018.
Note to readers
The crime rate and the Crime Severity Index (CSI) are complementary measures of police-reported crime. The crime rate measures the volume of crime reported to the police per 100,000 population, while the CSI measures both the volume and severity of crimes reported to the police.
To calculate the CSI, each violation is assigned a weight. CSI weights are based on the violation's incarceration rate, as well as the average length of prison sentence handed down by criminal courts. The more serious the average sentence, the higher the weight for that offence. To calculate the CSI, the weighted offences are summed and then divided by the population. As with the other indexes, to simplify comparison, the CSI is then standardized to a base year of "100" (for the CSI, the base year is 2006). In other words, all CSI values are relative to the Canada-level CSI for 2006. CSI values are available back to 1998. In addition to the overall CSI, a Violent Crime Severity Index (VCSI) and a Non-violent Crime Severity Index (NVCSI) were created. Like the overall CSI, they have been standardized; therefore, the values for these indexes are relative to the Canada-level indexes for the base year, namely "100" for 2006. For more information on the concepts and use of the severity indexes, see the document "Measuring Crime in Canada: Introducing the Crime Severity Index and Improvements to the Uniform Crime Reporting Survey" (). Also, see the video, " 85-004-XMeasuring crime in Canada: a detailed look at the Crime Severity Index."
Data are drawn from the Uniform Crime Reporting Survey, a census of all crime known to police services. Police-reported crime statistics conform to a nationally approved set of common crime categories and definitions. They have been systematically reported by police services and submitted to Statistics Canada every year since 1962. Differences in local police service policies, procedures and enforcement practices can affect the comparability of crime statistics at the municipal level.
Rural police services are those where the majority of the population lives outside of a census metropolitan area (CMA) or census agglomeration (CA). Urban police services are those where the majority of the population lives within a CMA or CA. A CMA or a CA is formed by one or more adjacent municipalities centered on a population centre (known as the core). A CMA must have a total population of at least 100,000 of which 50,000 or more must live in the core. A CA must have a core population of at least 10,000. To be included in the CMA or CA, other adjacent municipalities must have a high degree of integration with the core as measured by commuting flows derived from previous census place of work data, where 50% or more of the population commutes into the core.
Statistics Canada also collects self-reported victimization data from the General Social Survey on Victimization (GSS).The GSS collects information on self-reported incidents of criminal victimization, regardless of whether they were reported to the police. The GSS on Victimization is carried out every five years; the most recent cycle for which data are available was conducted in 2014.
More information on the new standards for the classification of founded and unfounded criminal incidents by police is available in the Juristat article "Revising the classification of founded and unfounded criminal incidents in the Uniform Crime Reporting Survey" and the accompanying infographic "Unfounded criminal incidents: Statistics Canada's path to new data collection."
The article "Police-reported crime statistics in Canada, 2017" is now available as part of the publication Juristat (85-002-X). The infographic "Police-Reported Crime in Canada, 2017" ( 11-627-M) and the "Canadian Community Crime Tracker" ( 71-607-X) are also released today.
Additional data are available upon request.
For more information, or to enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact us (toll-free 1-800-263-1136; 514-283-8300; STATCAN.infostats-infostats.STATCAN@canada.ca) or Media Relations (613-951-4636; STATCAN.mediahotline-ligneinfomedias.STATCAN@canada.ca).