Incidence of police-reported and victim-reported hate crime

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While both police-reported data and self-reported victimization data show that the proportion of hate crime is relatively low, the volume of hate-motivated offences collected by each type of survey is very different. Typically, self-reported victimization surveys yield higher crime counts than police-reported surveys and hate-motivated crimes were no exception to this trend.

In 2006, Canadian police services, covering 87% of the population,1 reported 892 crimes motivated by hate. Hate crimes accounted for 0.04% of all criminal incidents reported by police and represented a rate of 3.1 incidents per 100,000 population.

The 2004 GSS, on the other hand, counted over 260,000 incidents of hate-motivated crime in the 12 months preceding the survey, or 3% of all incidents.2, 3 These findings are consistent with those previously reported in the 1999 GSS.

Reasons that help explain the disparity between police-reported data and victimization data have been well-documented in previous reports (Gannon and Mihorean, 2005; Statistics Canada, 1997). Self-reported data on victimization are reflective of the perceptions of individuals and rely upon respondents to accurately interpret and report events. Interpretations of hate-motivated crime by victims are likely to be more subjective in nature, whereas police interpretations must be restricted to law and policies. Also, for a variety of reasons, including feeling that the incident was not important enough or that police could not help, not all incidents come to the attention of police. In the 2004 GSS, for example, 40% of hate crimes were reported to police and, of these, about two-thirds resulted in a subsequent investigation. Even when an incident is reported to police and an investigation ensues, police may conclude that there is not enough evidence to support the incident being categorized as criminal or as being motivated by hate. Police-reported hate crimes may also be fewer in number if individual police agencies do not have processes in place to screen for hate-motivating elements. As such, police-reported data likely under-count hate crime in Canada and any comparisons made between these two data sources should be done so with caution.

Police report property-related offences as most common

According to 2006 police-reported data, just over half of all hate crimes (52%) were categorized as property offences (Table 1), of which nine in ten were mischief (Table 2).4 Another 37% of incidents were violent offences committed against a person, the most frequent offence being common assault. There was one homicide and two attempted murders. Over the past 10 years, there have been ten homicides reported by police that had been motivated by hatred. The remaining 12% of hate crimes were classified as "other" violations such as offences against a person's reputation (e.g. libel, hate propaganda and inciting hatred), and threatening or harassing phone calls.

Table 1 Police-reported hate crime by type of motivation and crime category, Canada, 2006. Opens a new browser window.

Table 1
Police-reported hate crime by type of motivation and crime category, Canada, 2006

Table 2 Police-reported hate crime by most serious violation, Canada, 2006. Opens a new browser window.

Table 2
Police-reported hate crime by most serious violation, Canada, 2006

While police-reported surveys record information on all criminal incidents, the GSS is restricted to certain offences: sexual assault, robbery, assault, break and enter, theft or damage to personal or household property, and theft or damage to motor vehicles/parts. All other incidents of hate crime, such as those involving mischief to public property (e.g. graffiti) and "other" Criminal Code offences (e.g. publicly inciting hatred), are not reflected in GSS data. When looking at GSS data on this sub-set of offences, violent offences (63%) were reported by victims more commonly than property-related offences (37%).

Pilot study on police-reported hate crime, 2001 and 2002

In 2001 and 2002, a pilot study on hate crime was conducted of twelve major police services from across Canada, representing 43% of the national volume of crime: Calgary, Edmonton, Halton Regional, Montréal, Regina, Sudbury, Ottawa, Toronto, Waterloo, Windsor, Winnipeg, and the RCMP outside of British Columbia (Silver, Mihorean and Taylor-Butts, 2004). Together, these municipal police services reported an average of 443 hate crimes each year, lower than the 470 reported for the same police services in 2006.1

The 2006 police-reported data on hate crime represent a shift from police-reported hate crime data previously collected in the 2001 and 2002 pilot study with regards to the distribution of violent and property-related offences. Similar to the 2004 GSS, the pilot study found that violent hate crimes (52%) were more common than property-related hate crimes (31%); another 17% were "other" violations, such as hate propaganda. The change in the proportions of violent and property offences between 2001 and 2002 to 2006 was driven primarily by an increase in the number of mischief offences and a decrease in the number of common assaults reported by police.

The most common motivations for hate crimes reported by police were more consistent. Results from the 2001 and 2002 pilot study showed that incidents motivated by race/ethnicity accounted for more than half (57%) of all hate crimes, followed by those targeting religion (43%) and sexual orientation (10%).2

  1. For the purposes of comparison, the RCMP were excluded from this analysis.
  2. Totals do not add up to 100% due to multiple responses.


  1. Information was collected from the vast majority of all municipal and provincial police services in Canada as well as the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) in British Columbia. The RCMP were unable to provide 2006 hate crime data outside of British Columbia due to on-going changes in their records management systems.
  2. The proportion of self-reported hate-motivated victimization incidents is based upon the eight offence types that were collected by the GSS. Incidents that could not be classified as one of the eight offence types were excluded from this analysis.
  3. It is not possible to calculate an overall hate crime victimization rate using the GSS. The GSS collects information on personal and household offences and the distinction between these types of offences is based on the target of the criminal event. For personal offences, it is the individual who is victimized, while for the household offences, it is the household itself. For more information, see Gannon and Mihorean, 2005.
  4. Unless otherwise noted, all calculations made in this report exclude unknown responses.