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Persons accused in crime incidents in 2001
Social ecology recognizes that a better knowledge of the characteristics of persons accused in criminal incidents also serves to inform and guide the development of strategies for combating crime. In the paragraphs below, special attention is paid to the characteristics of persons accused of and charged with criminal offences committed on the Island of Montréal in 2001.
Approximately one-third of the criminal incidents reported in 2001, or nearly 43,600 of them, were solved, and one or more accused were identified. The age-specific delinquency rate peaked for 15- to 19-year olds, which is largely consistent with the national picture seen annually. Of this number, more than two-thirds were charged. The charge rate by age showed a pattern quite similar to the age-specific delinquency rate (Figure 2). In Montréal in 2001, the vast majority of persons charged were men (77%). Women accounted for 12%, male youth aged 12 to 17, for 9%, and female youth, for 2%. The pattern emerging from the geocoded data provided a very similar picture, and no statistically significant difference was noted (based on T-test, p<0.001).
Place of residence of persons charged
Map 8 and Map 9 display the place of residence of charged persons reporting a residential address on the Island of Montréal by type of offence committed in 2001. These maps show that charged persons come from various neighbourhoods. The place of origin of persons charged with violent offences (10,096 persons charged) is more diverse than that of those charged with property offences (7,744 persons charged), and it is also less concentrated. The points of origin of persons charged with property offences are more concentrated in the CTs that comprise the boroughs of Mercier–Hochelaga–Maisonneuve, Montréal-Nord, Sud-Ouest, Verdun and Ville-Marie. Charged persons who live outside of Montréal (9% or 1,973 persons charged) largely come from the Island's suburbs1: Laval (468 persons charged), Longueuil (186), Saint-Hubert (60), Brossard (55) and Terrebonne (55). Among charged persons residing off the Island, 32% had committed violent offences and 44% property offences.
Map 8. Kernel density distribution of place of residence of persons charged with violent offences and the residential population, Montréal, 2001
Map 9. Kernel density distribution of place of residence of persons charged with property offences and the residential population, Montréal, 2001
Distance travelled by persons charged
Using the location of criminal incidents and the place of residence of persons charged, it is possible to calculate the distance travelled by the person charged (see Methods section). Since analyses of distance travelled cover all charged persons residing on the Island of Montréal and elsewhere in Canada, the median distance is chosen as a better measure of central tendency than the mean, since it is not affected by extreme values.
Since Map 10 and Map 11 show simple density distributions, they do not take the residential population into account. These maps can be used to compare density distributions of places of origin and destination for all violent offences. At first glance, these maps show few differences between the general patterns in the distribution of relative frequencies, since the places of origin and destination appear quite similar. The fact is that persons charged with violent offences do not travel far; they travel a median distance of less than 1 kilometre (0.9 km) (Table 2). However, a more detailed examination reveals that the median distance travelled varies according to the type of violent offence. Persons charged with assault (0.4 km) travel the least, while those identified in sexual assault incidents cover a median distance of 1.3 kilometres. Persons charged with robbery in 2001 had travelled the greatest median distance, at more than 3 kilometres. The number of persons charged with homicide (21) is too small to draw conclusions regarding the distance covered.
Map 10. Kernel density distribution of place of residence of persons charged with violent offences, Montréal, 2001
Map 11. Kernel density distribution of solved violent offences for which the charged person's place of residence is known, Montréal, 2001
Map 12 and Map 13 illustrate the relative distribution of the points of origin of persons charged with property offences and the location of the criminal incident. Those charged with property crimes show greater diversity in their place of origin and more concentrated destination points. The CTs with the main point-of-origin hot spots are located in the boroughs of Verdun, Mercier–Hochelaga–Maisonneuve, Ville-Marie and Montréal-Nord, whereas the destination points are much more limited—they are concentrated in the city centre and the Island's main shopping malls. This dissimilarity indicates that persons charged in property crime incidents, who travel a median distance of more than 4 kilometres, generally cover a greater distance than those charged with violent offences. This distance also varies with the type of offence. In 2001, persons charged with breaking and entering had the shortest distance of all persons charged with property offences, at 3.3 kilometres, followed by theft $5,000 and under and theft over $5,000 (4.4 km). The longest distances travelled were for car thefts, at more than 6.5 km.
Map 12. Kernel density distribution of place of residence of persons charged with property offences, Montréal, 2001
Map 13. Kernel density distribution of solved property offences for which the place of residence of a person charged is known, Montréal, 2001
The distance also varies according to the charged person's relationship with the victim. Figure 3 shows charged persons' origin and the various distances they travel according to their relationship with the victim (one relationship is counted per person charged, namely the one showing the closest link with the victim). Median distances travelled vary according to the closeness of the relationship between persons charged and their victims. Not surprisingly, the data show that spouses did not travel, the address in most cases being the same, that is, the same block face. Ex-spouses travelled a median distance of 2.1 kilometres. Charged persons who knew the victim covered a median distance of 1.3 kilometres, while charged persons who did not know their victim travelled the longest distance, namely 3 kilometres, and most of them headed for the city centre of Montréal. However, few differences are noted in the kernel distribution of charged persons' origin according to their relationship with the victim.
Figure 3. Place of origin of charged persons and variation in their destination according to relationship with victim, Montréal, 2001
The median distance travelled by charged persons also varies according to age (Figure 4). In the case of violent offences, the distance travelled is greater in adolescence, that is, between 12 and 17 years of age, and diminishes with age. This variation is attributable to the fact that young persons aged 12 to 17 are more likely to target acquaintances (51% of their victims) and strangers (40%) than persons with whom they have any other type of relationship. Starting at age 25, charged persons were consistently more likely to target their spouse (between 26% and 29%), followed by acquaintances (between 24% and 34%) and ex-spouses (between 12% and 16%). Charged persons aged 18 to 24 were the most likely to attack strangers (representing 43% of their victims). By comparison, distance travelled in the case of property offences was shortest for male and female youth and peaked between 18 and 34 years of age, after which it stabilized. This pattern may be related to access to various modes of transportation.
Groff and McEwen (2005), who examined the statistical relationship between Euclidian distance and street network distance, concluded that there was an almost perfect linear relationship between these two measures (R2=0.997). In Table 2, distances measured using the street network are consistently longer than straight-line (Euclidian) distances. However, the two measures yield the same general assessment of the trip length according to the characteristics of the person charged and the type of offence. A simple linear regression applied to the Montréal situation shows that the relationship between the two measures is perfectly linear (R2=1.000) in the case of violent offences and almost perfectly linear (R2=0.998) in the case of property offences. For example, the street network distance travelled by a person charged with a violent offence is 119% plus 0.008 kilometres that of the Euclidian distance. Euclidian distance may thus be considered an excellent measure of the distance travelled by charged persons on the Island of Montréal.2
1. Based on municipal boundaries prior to the amalgamations of 2001.