Is Crime Increasing or Decreasing in Canada?
Since 1962, Statistics Canada has been collecting and analyzing data on criminal incidents in the country. But what does this data say about whether crime is increasing or decreasing?
Data collected in this analysis includes crimes that were reported to the police and then substantiated by further investigations. The collected data is then measured through two separate, but complementary, processes.
The first method measures solely the overall rate of crime in the country. The second method utilizes what’s known as the Crime Severity Index, which takes into account the overall severity of offenses committed.
So what is all this data saying about the level of crime in Canada? Let’s take a closer look.
Overall Crime Rates Since 1962
According to the data collected by Statistics Canada, crime in Canada has largely been decreasing for almost 30 years. This current downward trend is in contrast to the growth of crime in Canada that occurred from the early 1960s through to the early 1990s.
When Statistics Canada first began measuring the data in 1962, its analysis showed a steady increase in crime rate until around 1991, when the trend reversed itself and began to decrease.
This decrease was most notable in terms of property-related crimes, but there has also a drop in other types of crimes as well. Additionally, there has also been a decrease in violent crimes, however, the decline has not been as notable as it has for other types of criminal offenses in the country.
Why is Crime Decreasing in Canada?
By 2013, the crime rate in Canada had dropped to roughly the same level it was in 1969.
Although experts have been unable to determine a direct cause for the decline in crime, many theories have been presented, such as shifts in unemployment rates, an aging population, as well as an overall change in attitude towards crime amongst Canadians.
Alternatively, the Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics has noted several trends and correlations related to changing crime rates.
For example, its data suggests that changes in inflation rates are often associated with financially motivated crimes, such as robbery and grand theft auto. Whereas, violent crimes, such as homicide, are often associated with fluctuating unemployment rates.
Canadian Homicide Rates
One of the statistics that experts believe is a good measure of a country’s overall level of crime is its homicide rate. Violent crimes are thought to be particularly reliable for analysis due to the high rate of reporting them to police or law enforcement.
From 1961 until 1975, homicide rates in Canada had doubled. But since then, homicide rates have been on the decline. And more recently, in 2013, the rate of homicides per 100,000 people had fallen to 1.43, its lowest since 1966.
The Criminal Records Act of 1985
Another factor that is believed to have had an impact on crime rates in Canada is the Criminal Records Act of 1985. The Act seeks to address sentencing recommendations and classify types of offenses for crimes in Canada.
The Act also provides opportunities for those convicted of an offense to apply for a Canadian Pardon or Record Suspension. Being granted a Record Suspension means that a person’s criminal record will be sealed and no longer visible during criminal background checks.
In 2010 and 2012, changes were made to the Act, which saw individuals convicted of sexual crimes against minors, as well as those with 3 or more indictable offenses each with a jail sentence of 2 years or greater, become ineligible for a Record Suspension in Canada.
It is often thought that ongoing legislative changes such as expanding legal definitions and criminalizing/decriminalizing certain behaviors are some of the biggest driving factors in terms of decreasing crime rates in the country.
Fewer Crimes Means A Safer Canada
While it’s unclear exactly why we’ve seen such a downward trend in crime, one thing is certain: crime is impacted by numerous socio-economic factors, and with so many at play, it’s nearly impossible to determine an exact reason why the country’s crime rate has been decreasing.
However, the numbers we’ve analyzed don’t lie, and current statistics show that crime rates are, in fact, on the decline in Canada.
About the Author
Joel LaForest is a Research Analyst with Pardon Applications of Canada and the owner of The Hobo Marketing Co., specializing in writing about law, finance, health, and wealth.