Exploring Canadian Crime Rates and Reporting Practices

Exploring Canadian Crime Rates and Reporting Practices - blog header
Exploring Canadian Crime Rates and Reporting Practices - blog header

Unless you’re studying criminology online, you may not understand the term CSI. And no, I’m not talking Gil Grissom, Crime Scene Investigation. Canada crime rates are calculated in conjunction with the Crime Severity Index (CSI), to measure the volume and severity of police-reported crimes in Canada, generally expressed as a rate per 100,000 population. The last Canadian crime rates census was conducted by StatsCan in 2015, with eight of the thirteen provinces and territories reporting an increase in police-reported crime for the first time in 15 years.

Canadian Crime Rates: Violent Crime

In 2015, violent crimes made up about one-fifth (20%) of police-reported Criminal Code offences (1,060 violent incidents per 100,000 population). Physical assaults were the most prevalent, accounting for 58% of violent offences reported to police. Across Canada, an increase in robberies (+5% to 22,000), homicides (+15% to 604), attempted murders (+22% to 774), sexual assaults (+3% to 21,500) and violent firearms offences (+22%) also contributed to the spike in Canadian crime rates. When it comes to violent crimes, Western Canadian cities seem to be bearing the brunt. Winnipeg, Manitoba has the most robberies per capita, while Alberta is home to the top three homicide cities (Fort McMurray, Grande Prairie and Lethbridge), alongside Regina, Saskatchewan with the greatest number of aggravated assaults.

Canadian Crime Rates: Non-violent crimes

Non-violent crimes accounted for 80% of police-reported crimes in 2015. An increase in Canadian non-violent crime rates is partly attributed to property offenses, most notably in Alberta, including breaking and entering (+4% to 159,000), fraud (+15%), theft under $5,000 (+8%) and mischief. Calgary, for example, recorded the largest increase in CSI (+29%) in the country, due largely to property crimes. Motor vehicle theft (+6% to 79,000) also contributed to the rise in national CSI, with the highest rates occurring in Alberta. While impaired driving offenses decreased (-4% to 72,000 incidents), along with drug-related offenses involving cocaine (-7%) and cannabis (-15%), trafficking and possession increased for crystal meth (+25%), heroin (+18%), ecstasy (+7%) and ‘other drugs’ like fentanyl and LSD (+6%). The highest rates of total drug violations were in British Columbia and Alberta.

Canadian Crime Rates: Reporting

According to the General Social Survey on Victimization, only around one-third (31%) of crimes are reported to police. Canadians typically report emergencies by dialing 911 in most areas, but a municipal non-emergency number (for reporting thefts, vandalism, fraud, etc.) is also utilized. For non-victims, reports are also made through the Canadian Crime Stoppers Association, by landline (1-800-222-8477), webtip or SMS.

For further reading, check out this blog post: Evidence-Based Policing in Canada