Police-reported crime statistics in Canada, 2008

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By Marnie Wallace

Volume and severity of crime down in 2008
Manitoba leads the country in crime severity drop
Volume and severity of violent crime down in 2008
Manitoba and Saskatchewan reported largest declines in violent crime severity
Homicide rate up slightly in 2008
Fewer robberies in 2008
Serious assaults down for first time in nearly a decade
Non-violent police-reported crime
Break and enters continue to decline
Police-reported motor vehicle thefts down across the country
Police-reported drug crimes stable overall but cannabis possession up
Police report increase in impaired driving offences
Second consecutive decline in youth crime rate
Factors affecting crime rates
References
Detailed data tables
Notes

Each July, Statistics Canada, through the Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics (CCJS), releases its annual report on police-reported crime in Canada. This report presents information on the short and long-term trends in overall, violent and non-violent crime at the national, provincial/territorial and census metropolitan area levels. For the first time, this report includes information on both the volume and the severity of police-reported crime in Canada. The new police-reported Crime Severity Index (PRCSI) was introduced in the spring of 2009 to enable Canadians to track changes in the severity of police-reported crime from year to year.

The data are drawn from the Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Survey, a census survey of all crime known to, and substantiated by, police services. These crime statistics conform to a nationally-approved set of common crime categories and definitions and have been systematically reported by police services and submitted to the CCJS each year since 1962.

Police-reported crime statistics represent one way to measure the nature and extent of crime in Canada. A complementary source of information can be obtained from the General Social Survey (GSS) on victimization. Every five years the GSS collects self-reported victimization data from a nationally-representative sample of Canadians, aged 15 years or older, for eight offence types: sexual assault, robbery, assault, break and enter, theft of personal property, theft of household property, motor vehicle/parts theft, and vandalism. The GSS is currently in the field collecting 2009 data and results are expected in 2010.

Typically, the GSS yields much higher rates of criminal victimization than the UCR Survey. Reasons for the disparity have been well-documented and include the fact that not all incidents are reported to police. According to the 2004 GSS, about one-third (34%) of criminal victimizations were reported to police. For further information on the findings from the 2004 GSS on victimization, see Gannon and Mihorean, 2005.

Volume and severity of crime down in 2008

Not only was there less police-reported crime in Canada in 2008 than the previous year, it was also less serious in nature. Canada's police-reported crime rate (PRCR)—which measures the overall volume of crime reported to and by the police—dropped 5% in 2008 to its lowest level in over 30 years (Table 1). The severity of crime, as measured by the new police-reported Crime Severity Index, also dropped in 2008, from 95.2 to 90.0 (for more information on the Crime Severity Index, refer to Text box 1). The 5% drop in overall crime severity represented the fifth consecutive annual decrease (Chart 1.a).

When looking only at violent crime, both the volume and severity also decreased in 2008. The Violent Crime Severity Index was down 3%, to 94.6, while the violent crime rate fell slightly less (-2%) (Chart 1.b).

Chart 1.a
Police-reported crime rate and Crime Severity Index, Canada, 1998 to 2008

Description

Chart 1.a Police-reported crime rate and Crime Severity Index, Canada, 1998 to 2008

Source: Statistics Canada, Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, Uniform Crime Reporting Survey.


Chart 1.b
Chart 1.b Police-reported violent crime rate and Violent Crime Severity Index, Canada, 1998 to 2008

Description

Chart 1.b Police-reported violent crime rate and Violent Crime Severity Index, Canada, 1998 to 2008

Note: The violent crime rate has been expanded to include a number of offences not previously included in the violent crime rate. As a result, comparable data is only available starting in 1998.
Source: Statistics Canada, Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, Uniform Crime Reporting Survey.

Canadian police services reported approximately 2.2 million Criminal Code incidents (excluding traffic) in 2008 (Table 2), of which one in five was violent.1 Virtually all Criminal Code and Federal Statute offences declined in 2008, with the exception of increases in some offences including homicide, aggravated assault, fraud, counterfeiting, impaired driving and cannabis possession.

Together, seven offences accounted for about 80% of the volume of all reported crime in Canada: theft under $5,000 (25%), mischief (17%), break and enter (10%), common assault (8%), administration of justice offences (8%), motor vehicle theft (6%), and disturb the peace (5%).

The drop in the PRCR in 2008 was driven by decreases in virtually all of these high-volume offences (Table 2). In total, there were about 77,000 fewer reported offences in 2008. Most notably, there were about 28,000 fewer thefts under $5,000, 22,000 fewer break and enters and 20,000 fewer motor vehicle thefts in 2008.

Changes in more serious crimes, because they are assigned higher weights, have a greater impact on the police-reported Crime Severity Index (PRCSI) than on the rate. About half of the drop in the severity of police-reported crime in Canada in 2008 was the result of a 10% decline in the rate of break and enters.

Text box 1
The police-reported Crime Severity Index

The new police-reported Crime Severity Index (PRCSI) adds to existing measures of crime, namely the traditional police-reported crime rate (PRCR) and victimization data from the General Social Survey. The Index was developed in response to a request by the police community to create a measure of crime that reflects the relative seriousness of different offences and addresses limitations of the current PRCR.

The police-reported crime rate, which measures changes in the volume of crime, counts each criminal incident equally. As a result, the rate is dominated by high volume, less-serious offences.

The police-reported Crime Severity Index measures changes in the severity of crime from year to year. Each type of offence is assigned a weight derived from actual sentences handed down by courts in all provinces and territories. Weights are calculated using the five most recent years of available sentencing data.

More serious crimes are assigned higher weights, less serious offences lower weights. As a result, when all crimes are included, more serious offences have a greater impact on changes in the Index.

Separate police-reported crime rates have traditionally been calculated for overall crime, for violent crimes, for property-related crimes and for all other offences. Separate severity indexes have also been created: one for overall police-reported crime, one for violent crime including only crimes against the person, and one for non-violent crime such as property and drug offences. Drug offences are excluded from the traditional crime rate, along with other Federal Statutes and Criminal Code traffic offences. They are, however, included in the PRCSI.

In contrast to the PRCR, which is a rate per 100,000 population, the PRCSI is an index where the base year in 2006 is equal to 100. Data for the Index are available back to 1998 only. For more information on the PRCSI, see Measuring Crime in Canada: Introducing the Crime Severity Index and Improvements to the Uniform Crime Reporting Survey.

Manitoba leads the country in crime severity drop

The severity of police-reported crime dropped across the country in 2008, with the exception of Prince Edward Island (+7%), Nunavut (+2%), New Brunswick and Northwest Territories (both up 1%) (Table 3). The province with the largest drop in its PRCSI was Manitoba (-14%), followed by Nova Scotia (-9%). The drops in both these provinces were primarily due to large declines in break and enters, motor vehicle theft and robbery.

Despite large drops, the highest provincial PRCSI values continued to be reported in the west (Chart 2.a). In 2008, Saskatchewan reported the highest overall Index value, followed by Manitoba, British Columbia and Alberta. Index values in the territories continued to be much higher than in the rest of Canada. Even with a 7% increase, Prince Edward Island again recorded the lowest PRCSI value in 2008, followed closely by Ontario, Newfoundland and Labrador and New Brunswick.

Chart 2.a
Police-reported Crime Severity Index by province and territory, 2008

Description

Chart 2.a Police-reported Crime Severity Index by province and territory, 2008

Source: Statistics Canada, Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, Uniform Crime Reporting Survey.


Chart 2.b
Police-reported Violent Crime Severity Index by province and territory, 2008

Description

Chart 2.b Police-reported Violent Crime Severity Index by province and territory, 2008

Source: Statistics Canada, Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, Uniform Crime Reporting Survey.

Drops in crime severity were also reported in most of Canada's census metropolitan areas (CMAs),2 including the ten largest (Table 4). Of these, the most substantial decrease occurred in Winnipeg (-19%). Nearly all of the smaller CMAs also reported drops in crime severity, most notably: St. John's (-15%), Regina, Saskatoon, and Moncton, each down 13%.

Trois-Rivières reported the largest increase in overall crime severity (+14%), with increases seen in rates of robbery (+64%) and break-ins (+31%). However, despite this increase, at 78.2 its Index value remained below the national average of 90.0.

The lowest PRCSI of all the metropolitan areas in Canada was reported by Guelph (Chart 3.a). At 57.7, its police-reported Crime Severity Index was 36% lower than the national average. Barrie, Saguenay, Québec and Toronto were also well below the national average. The highest PRCSI values continued to be recorded in the western CMAs, with Regina, Abbotsford-Mission and Saskatoon being the top three.

Chart 3.a
Police-reported Crime Severity Index by census metropolitan area, 2008

Description

Chart 3.a Police-reported Crime Severity Index by census metropolitan area, 2008

Source: Statistics Canada, Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, Uniform Crime Reporting Survey.


Chart 3.b
Police-reported Violent Crime Severity Index by census metropolitan area, 2008

Description

Chart 3.b Police-reported Violent Crime Severity Index by census metropolitan area, 2008

Source: Statistics Canada, Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, Uniform Crime Reporting Survey.

Volume and severity of violent crime down in 2008

One out of every five crimes reported to police in Canada is violent. Violent crimes include only crimes against the person such as homicide, robbery and sexual assault. Both the volume and severity of these violent crimes declined in 2008, indicating that there were fewer incidents of reported violent crime than the year before and that the incidents were of a less serious nature.

In total there were about 3,500 fewer reported violent incidents in 2008. The rate of common assault, the most frequent violent crime, fell by 2%, and was largely responsible for the drop in the police-reported violent crime rate.

The severity of police-reported violent crime was also down (-3%) in 2008 primarily due to a 7% drop in the rate of robbery, as well as a 10% decline in the attempted murder rate (Chart 1.b).

Nearly every type of violent crime declined in 2008, with the most notable exceptions being small increases in homicide and aggravated assault (the most serious form of assault). (Table 2). The rate of criminal harassment remained unchanged.

The police-reported violent crime rate has been declining since 2000 due primarily to drops in high-volume crimes such as common assault and uttering threats. The police-reported Violent Crime Severity Index (PRVCSI), in contrast, was relatively stable throughout the late 1990s and early 2000s. Increases in serious violent crimes such as robbery and serious assaults led to increases in the Violent Index in both 2005 and 2006. The decreases in the severity of violent crime in Canada in both 2007 and 2008 were largely the result of drops in the rate of robbery.

Manitoba and Saskatchewan reported largest declines in violent crime severity

The severity of violent crime increased in Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick and Alberta in 2008 (Table 3). The remaining provinces all experienced decreases in the PRVCSI, with both Manitoba and Saskatchewan reporting 9% declines.

The province with the lowest Violent Crime Severity Index in 2008 was Prince Edward Island, despite an 8% increase. The remaining provinces in eastern and central Canada had lower PRVCSI values than the western provinces and the territories. Saskatchewan and Manitoba experienced large drops in their violent severity indexes but continued to have the highest index values among the provinces in 2008.

The CMAs in western Canada also reported high PRVCSI values. Regina, Saskatoon and Winnipeg reported the highest PRVCSI values. A number of eastern and central CMAs also reported PRVCSI values higher than the national average of 94.6: Halifax, Saint John, Montreal, Toronto and Thunder Bay. The lowest PRVCSI values in the country were seen in Guelph and Barrie in 2008.

Homicide rate up slightly in 2008

The homicide rate increased slightly in 2008, up 2% from 2007. Police reported 611 victims, 17 more than the previous year, representing a rate of 1.8 homicides per 100,000 population. While the homicide rate has been generally declining since the mid-1970s (Chart 4), 2008 represented the third increase in the past five years.

Chart 4
Homicide and attempted murder, police-reported rate, Canada, 1978 to 2008

Description

Chart 4 Homicide and attempted murder, police-reported rate, Canada, 1978 to 2008

Source: Statistics Canada, Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, Uniform Crime Reporting Survey.

Increases in British Columbia (+29 victims) and Alberta (+22 victims), mainly in the rural areas, contributed to the overall national increase (Table 5). Following a substantial increase in 2007, Manitoba reported 54 homicides in 2008, 7 fewer than the year before. Manitoba's homicide rate, however, remained the highest of all the provinces, at 4.5 victims per 100,000 population (Chart 5). The homicide rate in New Brunswick was the lowest in 40 years.

Chart 5
Homicide, police-reported rate by province, 2008

Description

Chart 5 Homicide, police-reported rate by province, 2008

Source: Statistics Canada, Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, Uniform Crime Reporting Survey.

With 103 homicides in 2008, Toronto reported the most homicides of any CMA, though slightly fewer than the 112 victims reported in 2007 (Table 6). Taking population into account, Toronto's homicide rate of 1.9 homicides per 100,000 population was just slightly higher than the national rate of 1.8. Homicide rates were highest in the western CMAs of Abbotsford-Mission, Winnipeg, Regina, Edmonton, Kelowna, Calgary and Vancouver.

In 2008, homicide rates in Montréal and Hamilton were at their lowest point since 1981, when data first became available at the CMA level. Six of the country's metropolitan areas reported no homicides in 2008: Barrie, Guelph, Saguenay, Sherbrooke, Thunder Bay and Moncton.

There were 723 attempted murders in 2008, 70 fewer than in 2007. This resulted in a 10% decline in the rate of this offence. Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Alberta were the only provinces to report increases. Although the rate of attempted murder has remained consistently higher than that of homicide since 1978, it has generally paralleled the gradual decline seen in homicide (Chart 4).

Fewer robberies in 2008

Nationwide, police reported about 32,000 incidents of robbery in 2008, resulting in a rate that was 7% lower than in 2007.3 The robbery rate in Canada has been gradually declining over the past decade, down 11% between 1998 and 2008 (Chart 6).

Chart 6
Robbery, police-reported rate, Canada, 1978 to 2008

Description

Chart 6 Robbery, police-reported rate, Canada, 1978 to 2008

Note: Revisions have been applied to robbery data back to 1998. As a result, there is a break in the data series between 1997 and 1998.
Source: Statistics Canada, Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, Uniform Crime Reporting Survey.

More than half (57%) of all police-reported robberies in 2008 were committed without the use of a weapon. About 15% of robberies involved a firearm. After reaching a 30-year low in 2007, the rate of robbery with a firearm remained stable in 2008.

The only province to report an increase in robbery in 2008 was Prince Edward Island (+42%), although that province continued to have the lowest robbery rate in the country. Robbery rates in the western provinces were well above the rest of Canada (Chart 7). Though it continued to report the highest rate of robberies of all provinces and territories, Manitoba also recorded the largest drop in that offence in 2008 (-22%). Manitoba has reported the highest robbery rate since 1994, while Saskatchewan has reported the second-highest rate since 2003.

While Winnipeg, Regina and Saskatoon reported the highest rates of robbery among all CMAs in 2008, robbery rates in all three of these CMAs declined substantially. However, some pockets of the country reported increases in robbery rates, namely Saint John, Trois-Rivières, Gatineau, Ottawa, Barrie, Peterborough, London, Windsor, Edmonton, Kelowna and Abbotsford-Mission.

Chart 7
Robbery, police-reported rate by province, 2008

Description

Chart 7 Robbery, police-reported rate by province, 2008

Source: Statistics Canada, Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, Uniform Crime Reporting Survey.

Serious assaults down for first time in nearly a decade

There were nearly 58,000 serious assaults reported in Canada in 2008. Together, aggravated assault (level 3) and assault with a weapon/causing bodily harm (level 2) accounted for slightly more than 1 in 10 reported violent crimes. These serious assaults have been on an upward trend over the past 25 years, but declined slightly in 2008 for the first time in nearly a decade (Chart 8.a).

Saskatchewan and Manitoba reported the highest rates of serious assaults of all the provinces, more than 60% higher than the province with the next highest rate (Table 5) (Chart 8.b). However, in 2008, Saskatchewan saw the largest decline (-7%) in the rate of serious assaults. New Brunswick reported the largest increase in the country, up 18% from 2007.

Chart 8.a
Level 2 and 3 assault, police-reported rates, Canada, 1983 to 2008

Description

Chart 8.a Level 2 and 3 assault, police-reported rates, Canada, 1983 to 2008

Note: The trend for these offences only exists back to 1983 as this is when these offence classifications were created.
Source: Statistics Canada, Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, Uniform Crime Reporting Survey.


Chart 8.b
Level 2 and 3 assault, police-reported rate by province, 2008

Description

Chart 8.a Level 2 and 3 assault, police-reported rate by province, 2008

Source: Statistics Canada, Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, Uniform Crime Reporting Survey.

Non-violent police-reported crime

Four out of every five crimes reported to police in Canada are non-violent in nature. Three specific offences account for almost two-thirds of all non-violent offences in Canada. In 2008, theft under $5,000 accounted 31% of all non-violent crimes, followed by mischief (20%) and break-ins (12%). The volume of non-violent crime reported to police fell by 5%, while its seriousness, as indicated by the police-reported Non-violent Crime Severity Index, dropped slightly more (-6%).

Break and enters continue to decline

The 2008 rate of break and enter continued the downward trend that began in the early 1990s, and was 10% lower than in 2007 (Chart 9). The rate of reported break and enter in 2008 was less than half of what it was in 1991. Police reported over 200,000 break and enters in 2008, of which nearly 6 in 10 were residential. Another 32% were businesses and 9% were other locations such as schools, sheds and detached garages.

Chart 9
Break and enter and motor vehicle theft, police-reported rates, Canada, 1978 to 2008

Description

Chart 9 Break and enter and motor vehicle theft, police-reported rates, Canada, 1978 to 2008

Source: Statistics Canada, Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, Uniform Crime Reporting Survey.

Declines in the rate of break and enter were reported in all provinces except Prince Edward Island, where the rate increased by 12% (Table 5).

As has been the case for over a decade, Saskatchewan continued to report the highest rate of break and enter among the provinces (Chart 10), although its rate dropped by 15% in 2008. Even larger declines were reported in Newfoundland and Labrador (-23%), Manitoba (-20%) and Nova Scotia (-18%).

Chart 10
Break and enter, police-reported rate by province, 2008

Description

Chart 10 Break and enter, police-reported rate by province, 2008

Source: Statistics Canada, Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, Uniform Crime Reporting Survey.

The highest break and enter rates among the CMAs were reported by Abbotsford-Mission and Regina, while Toronto reported the lowest. Trois-Rivières reported the largest increase in break-ins in 2008, up 31%.

Specialized policing programs as well as an increasing use of home security devices, such as burglar alarms, motion detectors and new locks/security bars, may explain some of the decrease in break and enters (Gannon and Taylor-Butts, 2006). Increases in insurance deductibles could also be related to fewer break and enters being reported to police (Fedorowycz, 2004).

Police-reported motor vehicle thefts down across the country

Police in Canada reported about 125,000 incidents of motor vehicle theft in 2008, more than 20,000 fewer than in 2007. The motor vehicle theft rate has been declining since the mid-1990s. The drop in the rate of motor vehicle theft in 2008 was the largest in 30 years, down 15% from 2007 (Chart 9). Lower rates of vehicle theft were reported in every province, with declines ranging from 1% in Saskatchewan to 39% in Manitoba.4

Despite its large decrease in 2008, Manitoba continued to report the highest rate of motor vehicle theft of all the provinces (Chart 11). About 81% of Manitoba's motor vehicle thefts occurred in the CMA of Winnipeg, where the rate dropped 44% in 2008. This was the second consecutive year of double-digit declines in Winnipeg's motor vehicle theft rate. However, Winnipeg still reported the highest vehicle theft rate among CMAs in Canada.

Chart 11
Motor vehicle theft, police-reported rate by province, 2008

Description

Chart 11 Motor vehicle theft, police-reported rate by province, 2008

Source: Statistics Canada, Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, Uniform Crime Reporting Survey.

Abbotsford-Mission, Kelowna and Brantford also had relatively high rates of reported motor vehicle theft. Kelowna and Brantford both reported double-digit increases in 2008, as did Guelph, Peterborough, St. Catharines-Niagara, and Trois-Rivières.

Part of the overall decrease in police-reported motor vehicle theft over the past 10 years may be due to such factors as increased use of anti-theft devices (e.g. car alarms, vehicle immobilizers), specialized enforcement teams within some police services and targeted initiatives, such as the "bait car" program.5

Police-reported drug crimes stable overall but cannabis possession up

Drug crimes, including possession, trafficking, importing, exporting and production-related offences, fall under the authority of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act.6 Drug crime rates tend to vary considerably from year to year as police charging practices can be influenced by changes in local enforcement policies and available resources.

In 2008, there were about 102,000 drug offences reported by police, no real change from 2007. The rate of police-reported drug offences has generally been increasing since the early 1990s and, in 2007, reached its highest point in 30 years (Chart 12). Since the early 1980s, the rate of drug offences has been far higher in British Columbia than in any other province (Table 5).

Chart 12
Drug offences, police-reported rate, Canada, 1978 to 2008

Description

Chart 12 Drug offences, police-reported rate, Canada, 1978 to 2008

Source: Statistics Canada, Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, Uniform Crime Reporting Survey.

Cannabis possession and importation/exportation were the only types of drug offences to increase in 2008 at the national level (Table 2). Cannabis possession accounts for almost half of all reported drug offences in Canada. Provincially, only New Brunswick and British Columbia reported declines in the rate of cannabis offences in 2008. Cocaine offences dropped by 8% at the national level in 2008 while other drug offences, such as heroin, crystal meth and ecstasy, were down 2%.

Police report increase in impaired driving offences

Similar to drug-related crimes, the number of impaired driving offences reported by police can be influenced by many factors including legislative changes, enforcement practices (e.g. increased use of roadside suspensions), shifts in demographics and changing attitudes on drinking and driving. Police reported nearly 85,000 incidents of impaired driving in 2008. Of these, there were 193 incidents of impaired driving causing death, up from 182 in 2007. Although the overall rate of impaired driving offences increased in 2008 (+6%), the rate of this offence has been generally declining over the past 25 years.

Among the provinces, New Brunswick (+23%) and Saskatchewan (+22%) reported the most substantial increases in 2008. Only four provinces reported decreases in rates of impaired driving: Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia and British Columbia were all down 2%, and Quebec was down 1%.

Second consecutive decline in youth crime rate

There were nearly 167,000 youth (aged 12 to 17 years) accused7 of a Criminal Code offence (excluding traffic) in 2008, accounting for almost one-third of all accused persons (Table 7).8 The rate of youth accused (the youth crime rate) decreased by 5% in 2008, the 4th decline in the past 5 years (Chart 13.a).9

In contrast to the declining trend in the overall youth crime rate, the rate of violent youth crime has been relatively stable since 2000. The 3% decline in youth violent crime in 2008 was the second consecutive decrease (Chart 13.b).

Chart 13.a
Youth accused of crime, police-reported rate, Canada, 1998 to 2008

Description

Chart 13.a Youth accused of crime, police-reported rate, Canada, 1998 to 2008

Note: The violent crime rate has been expanded to include a number of offences not previously included in the violent crime rate.  As a result, comparable data is only available starting in 1998.
Source: Statistics Canada, Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, Uniform Crime Reporting Survey.


Chart 13.b
Youth accused of violent crime, police-reported rate, Canada, 1998 to 2008

Description

Chart 13.b Youth accused of violent crime, police-reported rate, Canada, 1998 to 2008

Note: The violent crime rate has been expanded to include a number of offences not previously included in the violent crime rate.  As a result, comparable data is only available starting in 1998.
Source: Statistics Canada, Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, Uniform Crime Reporting Survey.

The rate of youth accused of homicide decreased substantially for the second consecutive year in 2008. There were 56 youths accused of homicide,10 compared to 77 in 2007 and 86 in 2006. The youth homicide rate was highest in Manitoba, at 13 youths accused per 100,000 youth population (Table 8). No youths were accused of committing homicide in Newfoundland and Labrador or Prince Edward Island.

One of the key objectives of the Youth Criminal Justice Act (YCJA), enacted in 2003, is to divert youth who have committed non-violent and less serious crimes away from the formal criminal justice system by encouraging the use of extrajudicial (non-court) measures (Department of Justice, 2003). These measures include taking no further action, informal police warnings, referrals to community programs, formal police cautions, Crown cautions and extrajudicial sanctions programs.

In 2008, 43% of youth accused of committing a Criminal Code offence were formally charged, while the remaining were dealt with through other means. The rate of youth against whom charges had been laid or recommended by police declined, down 4%. The rate of youth cleared by means other than laying a charge, such as diversion programs, also dropped, down 5% in 2008.

Factors affecting crime rates

As mentioned periodically throughout this report, many factors can influence crime rates. These may include, but are certainly not limited to, local enforcement strategies, different reporting mechanisms among police services and various social and economic factors.

For example, a study examining patterns in crime data found that shifts in inflation were associated with changes in financially-motivated crimes (namely robbery, break and enter and motor vehicle theft) and that alcohol consumption and unemployment rates were correlated with homicide rates (Pottie-Bunge, Johnson and Baldé, 2005). Other studies have found an association between neighbourhood crime rates and income levels (Savoie, 2008).

Crime statistics can also be affected by changes in societal responses and perceptions of certain crimes (such as sexual assault or spousal violence) which can lead to differences in reporting rates to police. Similarly, changes to the criminal justice system, such as the introduction of a new offence, can impact the number of police-reported criminal incidents.

Differences in the reporting structures of police services can also influence crime rates. For example, some police services maintain call centres to receive and record criminal incidents, while others require victims to report crimes in person. The ease of public reporting can impact whether a criminal incident becomes known to police and subsequently reported to the CCJS through the UCR Survey.

References

Dauvergne, Mia. 2008. "Motor vehicle theft in Canada, 2007." Juristat.Vol. 28, no. 10. Statistics Canada Catalogue no. 85-002-X. Ottawa.

Dauvergne, Mia. 2009. "Trends in police-reported drug offences in Canada." Juristat.Vol. 29, no. 2. Statistics Canada Catalogue no. 85-002-X. Ottawa.

Department of Justice. 2003. The Youth Criminal Justice Act: Summary and Background. Ottawa.
http://www.justice.gc.ca/eng/pi/yj-jj/ycja-lsjpa/back-hist.html (Accessed June 24, 2008).

Fedorowycz, Orest. 2004. "Breaking and entering in Canada – 2002." Juristat.Vol. 24, no. 5. Statistics Canada Catalogue no. 85-002-XIE. Ottawa.

Gannon, Marie and Andrea Taylor-Butts. 2006. "Canadians' use of crime prevention measures, 2004." Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics Profile Series.No. 12. Statistics Canada Catalogue no. 85F0033MIE. Ottawa.

Gannon, Maire and Karen Mihorean. 2005. "Criminal victimization in Canada, 2004." Juristat.Vol.25, no. 7. Statistics Canada Catalogue no. 85-002-XPE. Ottawa.

Manitoba Public Insurance. 2008. Auto Theft. Winnipeg.
http://www.mpi.mb.ca/english/autotheft/ATWATSS.html (Accessed May 27, 2009).

Pottie-Bunge, Valerie, Holly Johnson and Thierno Baldé. 2005. "Exploring crime patterns in Canada." Crime and Justice Research Paper Series. No. 5. Statistics Canada Catalogue no. 85-561-MIE. Ottawa.

Savoie, Josée. 2008. "Neighbourhood characteristics and the distribution of crime: Edmonton, Halifax and Thunder Bay." Crime and Justice Research Paper Series. No. 10. Statistics Canada Catalogue no. 85-561-MIE. Ottawa.

Taylor-Butts, Andrea and Angela Bressan. 2008. "Youth crime in Canada, 2006." Juristat.Vol. 28, no. 3. Statistics Canada Catalogue no. 85-002-XIE. Ottawa.

Wallace, Marnie, John Turner, Colin Babyak and Anthony Matarazzo. 2009. Measuring Crime in Canada: Introducing the Crime Severity Index and Improvements to the Uniform Crime Reporting Survey. Statistics Canada Catalogue no. 85-004-X. Ottawa.

Detailed data tables

Table 1 Police-reported crime rate and Crime Severity Index, Canada, 1998 to 2008

Table 2 Selected violations, by most serious offences, Canada, 2007 and 2008

Table 3 Police-reported crime rate and Crime Severity Index values, Canada and the provinces and territories, 2008

Table 4 Police-reported crime rate and Crime Severity Index values, census metropolitan areas (CMAs), 2008

Table 5 Selected violations, Canada and the provinces and territories, 2008

Table 6 Selected Criminal Code incidents by census metropolitan area (CMA), 2008

Table 7 Youth accused of selected violations, by most serious offence, Canada, 2007 and 2008

Table 8 Youth accused of selected violations, Canada and the provinces and territories, 2008

Notes

  1. The violent crime rate has been expanded to include a number of offences not previously included, such as uttering threats, criminal harassment and forcible confinement. Data using this definition of violent crime are available back to 1998.
  2. Due to an incongruity between the police service jurisdictional boundaries and the CMA boundaries, the Oshawa CMA is excluded from this analysis.
  3. As of 2008, changes have been made to the way certain violations, most notably robbery and counterfeiting, are counted in the UCR Survey. Data for these violations have been revised back to 1998. For a detailed explanation of these changes, please refer to Measuring Crime in Canada: Introducing the Crime Severity Index and Improvements to the Uniform Crime Reporting Survey.
  4. In 2005, Manitoba Public Insurance, the Winnipeg Police Service and Manitoba Justice together created the Winnipeg Auto Theft Suppression Strategy (WATSS). WATSS is a program that monitors youth known to be most likely to commit auto theft (Manitoba Public Insurance, 2008).
  5. Bait car programs use police-owned decoy vehicles that, if stolen, are monitored through surveillance and GPS tracking, enabling police to observe, follow and apprehend offenders.
  6. Drug crimes, Criminal Code traffic violations and Federal Statute offences are not included in the overall crime rate; however, they are included in the police-reported Crime Severity Index.
  7. Includes youth formally charged or recommended to the Crown for charging as well as youth cleared by means other than the laying of a charge (e.g. extrajudicial sanctions).
  8. For a more detailed analysis of youth crime in Canada, see Taylor-Butts and Bressan, 2008.
  9. Analysis in this section looks at the volume of youth crime only, as a Youth Crime Severity Index is not yet available.
  10. Data for 2008 includes one accused under the age of 12.
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