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This demonstration study represents Statistics Canada’s first examination of crime data using Geographic Information System (GIS) technology. The study, funded by the National Crime Prevention Centre at Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Canada, examines crime patterns in the City of Winnipeg in 2001. Results lend support to the notion that crime is not randomly distributed within cities but is associated with the distribution of other factors related to the population and land-uses of the city.

A recognition that crime is not evenly dispersed across cities, but is often concentrated within particular areas has been the focus of ecological studies of crime since the 1940s. Using data from the 2001 Census of Population, the 2001 Incident-based Uniform Crime Reporting Survey (UCR2) and City of Winnipeg zoning data, this study describes and explains spatial patterns of crime using social, economic and physical neighbourhood characteristics. Questions addressed include: How are police-reported crimes distributed across city neighbourhoods? Is the rate of crime in a neighbourhood associated with factors that are specific to that neighbourhood such as particular population, housing, land-use or socio-economic characteristics?

The study addresses these questions through a combination of statistical analyses and maps. Crime maps are important tools for the development and implementation of crime reduction strategies, and are used in this report to provide a visual representation of areas of concentrated crime and characteristics related to that concentration.

It should be kept in mind that this study makes use of police-reported data, which provides one particular view of the nature and extent of crime. Specifically, police-reported data measure only those crimes that are known to the police. Many factors can influence the police-reported crime rate, including the willingness of the public to report crimes to the police; reporting by police to the UCR Survey; and changes in legislation, policies or enforcement practices.

According to the 1999 General Social Survey (GSS) on Victimization, 59% of incidents at the national level in Canada were not reported to the police (Besserer and Trainor 2000). While population-based surveys such as the GSS collect information directly from individuals about their experiences of criminal victimization regardless of whether the crime was reported to the police, these data are currently not available at the urban and sub-urban levels in Canada.

The Census of Population is conducted by Statistics Canada every 5 years, and most recently in 2001. In order to achieve the highest degree of compatibility between neighbourhood characteristics derived from the Census and crime information, this study is based on police and Census data from the year 2001.

The focus of this study is to examine factors related to the geographic location of reported criminal incidents, and does not address issues related to the residential location of either offenders or victims. Consequently, conclusions cannot be drawn about the connection between the location of criminal incidents and the residences of either accused individuals or victims.

How is this report organized?

There are four parts in this report. The first part provides a description of the data sources, variables and methods used for analyzing spatial data. The results of the analysis are presented in the second part, and part three presents a discussion of the major findings and some of the limitations of this demonstration study. Finally, the fourth part of the report includes appendices providing greater detail of the distribution of specific crimes, and selected crime and census data for the highest-need neighbourhoods in Winnipeg.

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Date modified: 2004-09-16 Important Notices
Online catalogue 85-561-MWE Online catalogue - Neighbourhood characteristics and the distribution of crime in Winnipeg Main page Background Findings Tables, maps and appendices Methodology Bibliography More information PDF version Previous issues of the Crime and Justice Research Paper Series