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Police-reported crime statistics, 2018

Released: 2019-07-22

Police-reported crime in Canada, as measured by both the crime rate and the Crime Severity Index (CSI), increased for the fourth consecutive year in 2018, rising 2%. Despite the increase, the CSI was 17% lower in 2018 than a decade earlier. The CSI measures the volume and severity of police-reported crime in Canada, and has a base index value of 100 for 2006.

The change in the CSI in 2018 was the result of higher police-reported rates of numerous offences. Ordered by their relative impact on the CSI, these offences include fraud (+13%); level 1 sexual assault, meaning without a weapon or evidence of bodily harm (+15%); shoplifting of $5,000 or under (+14%); and theft over $5,000 (+15%). These increases were partially offset by decreases for some other offences, including lower rates of breaking and entering (-1%) and robbery (-3%).

There were over 2 million Criminal Code incidents (excluding traffic offences) reported by police in 2018, almost 69,800 more than in 2017. At 5,488 incidents per 100,000 population, the police-reported crime rate—which measures the volume of crime reported to police—increased 2% in 2018, but was 17% lower than in 2008.

A detailed analysis is provided in the new Juristat article released today, "Police-reported crime statistics in Canada, 2018" and the accompanying infographic "Police-reported crime in Canada, 2018."

It is important to note that the police-reported crime rate and the CSI include only those incidents that come to the attention of police, either through reporting by the public or through pro-active policing. Results from the most recent General Social Survey on Victimization found that just under one-third (31%) of violent and non-violent incidents were reported to the police.

Chart 1  Chart 1: Police-reported crime severity indexes, 1998 to 2018
Police-reported crime severity indexes, 1998 to 2018

Chart 2  Chart 2: Police-reported crime rates, 1962 to 2018
Police-reported crime rates, 1962 to 2018

Half of the provinces and two territories report a higher Crime Severity Index

In 2018, five provinces and two territories reported a higher CSI compared with a year earlier: Prince Edward Island (+17%); Ontario (+6%); Manitoba (+6%); Nunavut (+6%); Northwest Territories (+5%); New Brunswick (+4%); and Newfoundland and Labrador (+4%). Decreases were reported for Yukon (-7%), Saskatchewan (-3%), Quebec (-2%) and Nova Scotia (-2%), while British Columbia and Alberta remained stable.

Crime Severity Index increases in two-thirds of census metropolitan areas

The CSI increased in two-thirds of Canada's largest cities (census metropolitan areas [CMAs]) in 2018, with the largest increases in Windsor (+21%), Moncton (+15%) and St. Catharines–Niagara (+15%). Breaking and entering was an important contributor to the increases in Windsor and St. Catharines–Niagara, while fraud was an important contributor to the increases in Moncton and Windsor. The largest decreases in the CSI were in Belleville (-20%), Saguenay (-12%) and Peterborough (-10%).

Homicide rate declines

After increasing in 2017, Canada's homicide rate declined 4% in 2018, from 1.82 to 1.76 homicides per 100,000 population. Police reported 651 homicides in Canada in 2018, 15 fewer than the previous year. Despite the decline, the homicide rate was higher than the Canadian average over the previous decade.

Far fewer homicides were reported in Alberta (-38), British Columbia (-30), Quebec (-10) and Nova Scotia (-10) in 2018. With the exception of Alberta, these decreases followed notable increases in 2017. In contrast, Ontario saw 69 more homicides in 2018 than in 2017, partly because of three serious incidents that occurred in Toronto in 2018 and resulted in 20 homicides and 26 attempted murders. The City of Toronto was affected by the discovery of victims of serial homicides committed over a seven-year period (2010 to 2017), an attack in the North York City Centre business district where pedestrians were deliberately struck by a van, and a shooting on Danforth Avenue in the city's Greektown.

Detailed homicide statistics can be found in data tables available online.

More than one in five victims of homicide were Indigenous peoples

Indigenous peoples, including First Nation, Métis and Inuit, accounted for 5% of Canada's population in 2018, but 22% of homicide victims. Of the 140 Indigenous victims of homicide reported by police, 96 were male (69%) and 44 were female (31%). While the number of male victims decreased for the first time since 2014, when data on Indigenous identity became available, there were six more female victims of homicide than in 2017, marking a second consecutive annual increase. Overall, the rate of homicide for Indigenous peoples in 2018 was five times higher than the rate for non-Indigenous people (7.31 per 100,000 population for Indigenous peoples, compared with 1.44 for non-Indigenous people).

Rate of police-reported sexual assault increases for fourth year in a row

The number of sexual assaults reported by police is likely an underestimation of the true extent of sexual assault in Canada, as these types of offences often go unreported to police. There were notable increases in police-reported sexual assaults in 2017 and 2018, corresponding in timing to the growing public discussion of issues around sexual violence.

There were more than 28,700 police-reported sexual assaults in 2018 (78 per 100,000 population), marking the fourth consecutive annual increase in the rate of sexual assault. Nearly all (98%) of police-reported sexual assaults were classified as "level 1," meaning these assaults did not involve a weapon or evidence of bodily harm.

From 2017 to 2018, the rate of police-reported sexual assault increased in every province and territory, with the exception of the Northwest Territories, while most CMAs (28 of 35) reported increases.

Proportion of police-reported sexual assaults deemed "unfounded" declines

On January 1, 2018, Statistics Canada, in collaboration with the policing community, updated the definition of "founded" criminal incidents. This new definition now includes incidents where there is no credible evidence to confirm that the reported incident did not take place, as well as third-party reports that fit these criteria. With the new definition, police could classify more incidents as founded.

If reporting standards and practices had remained unchanged following the adoption of the new definition, the increase in the rate of police-reported level 1 sexual assault in 2018 may have been between 11% and 12%, compared with the reported increase of 15%. Regardless of the change in definition, the reporting of sexual assaults increased in October 2017 when the #MeToo social media campaign was at its peak, and remained higher throughout every month in 2018.

In 2018, 11% of level 1 sexual assaults reported to police were classified as unfounded, down from 14% in 2017. In comparison, 10% of common physical assault incidents were classified as unfounded in 2018, a decrease from 11% in 2017.

No increase in rate of police-reported violent firearm offences in 2018

The Criminal Code specifies a number of violent offences involving the use of a firearm, including discharging a firearm with intent, pointing a firearm, and using a firearm in the commission of an indictable offence. The rate was stable in 2018 following three consecutive annual increases. While police reported a 10% decrease in the rate of using a firearm in the commission of an indictable offence, and a 4% decrease in the rate of discharging a firearm with intent, the rate of pointing a firearm increased 9%.

Other serious crimes, however, such as homicide, robbery, assault and sexual assault, may also involve the use or presence of a firearm. In 2018, the rate of violent crimes where a firearm was present during the commission of the offence was 27 per 100,000 population, marking the first decrease (-5%) after four consecutive increases.

Hate-motivated crimes down after peaking in 2017, but still higher than in 2016

Following a 47% increase in 2017, the number of police-reported hate crimes in Canada was down 13% in 2018, from 2,073 incidents to 1,798. Even with this decline, the number of hate crimes remains higher (with the exception of 2017) than any other year since 2009, and aligns with the upward trend observed since 2014.

The year-over-year decrease was almost entirely a result of declines in Ontario. Nationally, the number of hate crimes targeting the Muslim population fell 50% after spiking in 2017 because of large increases in Ontario and Quebec. In 2018, there were also fewer police-reported hate crimes targeting Blacks (-12%) and fewer targeting sexual orientation (-15%). Hate crimes targeting the Jewish population accounted for 19% of hate crimes in 2018, down 4% from 2017. In 2018, non-violent hate crimes (-23%) declined more than violent hate crimes (-7%).

Police data on hate-motivated crimes include only those incidents that come to the attention of police services. These data also depend on police services' level of expertise in identifying crimes motivated by hate.

For more information on hate crime, see data tables 35-10-0066-01, 35-10-0067-01 and 35-10-0191-01.

Police-reported fraud increases for the seventh year in a row

The prevalence of certain types of fraud has recently been highlighted by the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, particularly general online or telephone scams, such as the "Canada Revenue Agency scam" and pre-paid gift card scams. According to some police services, increases in the reporting of fraud to their police service were connected to greater use and availability of online options for reporting fraud.

Nationally, the rate of police-reported fraud (including identity theft and identity fraud) increased for the seventh year in a row, up 12% from 2017 and 46% higher than a decade earlier. Just under 149,000 incidents of fraud were reported by police in 2018, resulting in a rate of 402 per 100,000 population. The high volume of fraud offences made it the primary driver behind the increase in the national CSI.

Shoplifting of $5,000 or under rises

Since 2008, there has been a notable upward trend in shoplifting of $5,000 or under. In 2018, shoplifting of $5,000 or under was a significant contributor to the national increase in the CSI. Police reported just under 125,000 incidents of shoplifting (337 incidents per 100,000 population), up 14% from 2017.

Compared with 2008, the rate of shoplifting in 2018 was up 42%, while other types of theft of property worth $5,000 or under decreased 23%. Shoplifting was the third highest contributor to the increase in the national CSI, behind fraud and sexual assault (level 1).

Relatively large increases in the rate of shoplifting in Manitoba (+61%), Alberta (+22%) and Ontario (+18%) were the primary drivers for the national increase. Certain CMAs also drove the national increase, including Winnipeg (+77%), Edmonton (+31%), Calgary (+26%) and Toronto (+20%).

Increase in police-reported extortion in every province

According to several Canadian police services, as well as the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, the nature of extortion, (which is the practice of obtaining something, especially money, through force or threats) in the digital world has been shifting with the emergence of digital and electronic scams such as hostage-taking scams, the deployment of ransomware and sextortion (which is typically obtaining money or sexual favours by threatening to reveal evidence of sexual activity).

The national rate of police-reported extortion (13 incidents per 100,000 population) rose 44%, increasing from 3,186 incidents in 2017 to 4,664 incidents in 2018. While the national rate of extortion fluctuated from 1998 to 2011, it increased by 12% in 2012 and has trended upward since.

Homicide, money laundering and Excise Act offences are those most likely to be linked to organized crime

Police services covering 91% of Canada's population were able to report which crimes were committed for the benefit of organized crime groups or street gangs in 2018. According to these new data, the offences most likely to be related to organized crime or gangs were homicide (27%), laundering the proceeds of crime (25%), offences against the Excise Act (which regulates duties on alcohol, tobacco and cannabis products) (16%), and conspiracy to commit murder (15%).

For more information on organized crime statistics, see data table 35-10-0062-01.

Rates of police-reported cannabis offences decline for the seventh year in a row

The Cannabis Act, which came into effect October 17, 2018, provides a legal framework for the regulation of the production, distribution, sale, possession, importation and exportation of cannabis in Canada. Prior to legalization, cannabis drug offences fell under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (CDSA).

Prior to legalization in October 2018, CDSA cannabis offences related to possession (-33%), trafficking (-44%) and production (-35%) all decreased from 2017, whereas those related to importation or exportation increased (+22%). While it could be argued that the declines were caused by the implementation of the Cannabis Act part way through 2018, data representing 9.5 months in 2017 indicate a 14% decrease in the rate of total cannabis offences prior to legalization.

After October 17, 2018, police reported 1,454 incidents under the new legislation, which accounted for 4% of all cannabis offences despite the Cannabis Act being in effect for less than three months in 2018. In the early months of enforcement, the most common types of offences under the Cannabis Act were related to possession (31%), importation or exportation (21%) and sale (16%).

Overall, national police-reported rates of cannabis offences have been declining since 2012. Just under 35,900 cannabis offences were reported by police in 2018, a rate of 97 per 100,000 population and 29% lower than in 2017. All provinces and territories reported declines.

For more information on cannabis, see Statistics Canada's Cannabis Stats Hub.

Police-reported methamphetamine offences continue to increase

A number of police services have indicated that the illicit use of methamphetamine (crystal meth) is a growing issue in their communities and may be contributing to increases in other types of crime, including property and violent crimes.

There were 13,603 methamphetamine offences in Canada in 2018. This represents a year-over-year increase of 13% and continues the upward trend that started in 2008. Among all drugs, possession of methamphetamine had the second highest incident rate (28 per 100,000 population), after possession of cannabis. While the rate of methamphetamine possession rose 10% in 2018, the rate of trafficking, production, and importation or exportation was up 23%. Methamphetamine offences accounted for 16% of all police-reported drug crime in 2018.

Police-reported opioid drug offences highest in British Columbia

According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, from January 2016 to December 2018, 11,500 people died of opioid overdoses, which continues to be a crisis in many Canadian communities. To address the need for information on opioids, Statistics Canada began collecting data on opioid offences (excluding heroin, but including fentanyl) separately from data on "other drugs" in November 2017.

In 2018, there were 2,490 opioid drug offences in Canada, resulting in a rate of 7 incidents per 100,000 population. Among the provinces, the highest rates were in British Columbia (21 per 100,000 population), Alberta (11) and Ontario (5).The CMAs with the highest rates of opioid offences were Kelowna (101), Lethbridge (84), Abbotsford–Mission (19), Vancouver (19) and Brantford (19).

Police-reported impaired driving rate is stable, while drug-impaired driving rate is up for the fifth year in a row

Police reported almost 70,400 impaired driving incidents in 2018, almost 1,300 more than the year before. After declining for six years straight, the rate of impaired driving (alcohol, drugs and unspecified) was stable in 2018, with a rate of 190 incidents per 100,000 population.

Almost all (93%) police-reported impaired driving incidents continued to involve alcohol in 2018, while a small proportion (6%) involved drugs.

The rate for all drug-impaired driving violations increased 25% from 2017. There were 4,423 drug-impaired driving offences in 2018, 929 more than the previous year. The number of impaired driving offences reported by police may 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.





  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.

For more information on the concepts and use of the severity indexes, see the video, "Measuring crime in Canada: A detailed look at the Crime Severity Index." Also, see the document "Measuring Crime in Canada: Introducing the Crime Severity Index and Improvements to the Uniform Crime Reporting Survey" (Catalogue number85-004-X).

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.

The change in the definition of "founded" criminal incidents only had a very limited impact on the rate of specific offences reported to the police and had almost no perceptible impact on the overall CSI and crime rate both violent and non-violent. See the full Juristat article released today. Additional details on the new standards for the classification of founded and unfounded criminal incidents by police are 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."

For additional information on cannabis and its legalization, see the National Cannabis Survey.

For more information on opioids and illicit drug overdose deaths, see the Juristat bulletin—Quick Fact "Illicit drug overdose deaths, 2011 to 2016, British Columbia and Surrey."

Products

The article "Police-reported crime statistics in Canada, 2018" is now available as part of the publication Juristat (Catalogue number85-002-X). The infographic "Police-reported crime in Canada, 2018" (Catalogue number11-627-M) is also released today. Updated data can also be found in the Cannabis Stats Hub (Catalogue number13-610-X).

Additional data are available upon request.

Contact information

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).

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