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Smaller centres see their share of crime

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Crime is not just a fact in large urban centres, though it might sometimes look that way in popular television programs. People living in Canada’s smaller urban areas face higher overall crime rates than their big-city neighbours, according to 2005 police-reported data. And, although rural residents live in areas with the lowest overall crime rates, they also had the highest homicide rates in 2005.

These findings apply to all provinces and territories except Quebec and Alberta. Quebec’s overall crime rate is highest in its large urban areas; in Alberta, the rate is lowest in large urban areas.

In small urban areas—those with a minimum population of 1,000 persons and a population density of at least 400 persons per square kilometre—the crime rate is about 43% higher than in census metropolitan areas (CMAs) and about 58% higher than in rural areas. Nationally, these small urban areas have the highest rates of both total violent crimes (murder, assault, sexual assault and robbery) and total property crime.

Rural areas also reported higher overall rates of violent crime than did CMAs. In 2005, the highest homicide rates were in rural areas. Although weapons in general are used more often in violent crimes in CMAs, homicides committed with a firearm are more frequent in rural areas (39%) than in either CMAs (35%) or small urban areas (23%).

Despite differences in crime rates, residents of the large urban, small urban and rural areas were equally likely to report feeling satisfied about their safety from crime, according to the 2004 General Social Survey. Over 90% of respondents, living in all three types of areas, reported such satisfaction.