Over the last few years there have been many speculations as to why Canadian crime rates have been steadily decreasing since the 1990’s.
Interestingly, Americans have also experienced the same decrease in crime rates since the 1990’s. Where both Canadians and Americans have, with the exception of automobile theft, seen their crime rates drop by almost half over the 10 year period from 1990 to 2000.
From 2001 to 2012, Canadians had experienced a 26.3% decline in crime within those years.
As in the past, the majority of crimes committed in Canada are non-violent. However, violent crimes are also steadily decreasing as well across the province. In 2009, there were 801 attempted murders in Canada, and in one year alone, that number dropped to 693, making it the lowest rate for this offence in over 30 years.
Most astonishingly has been the newly released Statistics Canada information which reveals that Canada’s crime levels are the lowest we’ve seen since 1962. Meaning that crime is on the decline, which comes as a surprise to many individuals in light of the last decade of tough-on-crime legislations put forth by the conservative government.
However, many individuals have been arguing over why this phenomenon has occurred, with many researchers exclaiming how crime has been decreasing long before these tough-on-crime initiatives. Furthermore, it has also been proven that the more punitive sanctions increase crime and criminal activity.
On the other hand, over the past two decades there have been several main arguments over why this decline has been experienced, with experts debating over various points.
One of the initial arguments for the decrease in criminal activity, starting in the 1990’s, was associated to the economic growth seen throughout North America. As unemployment rates fell, and Canadians and Americans saw a growth in Gross Domestic Product per capita, both countries saw less and less criminal activity over the years.
A statistic that has remained the same over the past two decades is that those who are committing crimes are generally younger in age, as they range from 19 to 24 years of age. As the Canadian population gets older, and more Canadians are conceiving children later, and having fewer kids, the baby-boomers begin to outnumber the younger generations.
The changing demographics of our society, which started in the 90’s, have been said to impact our current crime rates. As such, criminal activity will subsequently decrease since the majority of the population falls above 30 years old.
Police are always seen as an essential part of the criminal justice system, and there work of apprehending and managing those who commit crimes, as well as those who report criminal activity, have an influence on the crime statistics received by the general population.
Over the last few years, an increasing number of researchers have associated a change in police strategies, including community policing, as the reason for the decrease in criminal activity.
In contrast, other experts believe the sheer number of police that have increased have in fact influenced the dramatic decrease in crime. For example, from 2001 to 2012, there was a rise in the number of police by 8.7% per 100,000 of the population. This increase means there are a larger number of police officers on the streets, managing the communities, and building relationships with a variety of community members – in turn decreasing crime.