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Thursday, July 20, 2006
Canada's national crime rate, based on incidents reported to police, fell 5% last year — despite increases in serious crimes such as homicide, attempted murder, serious assaults and robbery.
Declines in non-violent offences such as counterfeiting, break-ins and auto thefts accounted for most of the decline in the crime rate, which fell in every province and territory.
The homicide rate increased 4% to the highest level in almost a decade. However, the overall violent crime rate was unchanged, while the property crime rate fell 6%. The rate of drug offences declined in 2005 as did overall youth crime.
The national crime rate has been relatively stable since 1999, with last year's 5% decrease offsetting a 6% hike in 2003. The crime rate declined during the 1990s, after rising throughout most of the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s.
Crime rate down in all provinces, territories and most cities
Crime rates fell in all provinces and territories last year, with the largest provincial declines in Manitoba and New Brunswick, each down 8%.
Violent crime rates declined in the Atlantic provinces, but they were relatively stable in Central and Western Canada.
The highest provincial crime rates continued to be seen in the West. Saskatchewan recorded the highest overall rate, followed by British Columbia and Manitoba. Rates were lowest in Ontario and Quebec.
Virtually all 27 census metropolitan areas (CMAs) reported declining or stable crime rates. The only exceptions were small increases in London and Ottawa.
Again, the highest crime rates were in Western cities. However, Regina's crime rate declined 15% in 2005, dropping it behind Saskatoon for the highest crime rate among all 27 CMAs.
Abbotsford, Vancouver, Winnipeg, Edmonton and Victoria reported the next highest rates. Saguenay, Québec, Trois-Rivières and Sherbrooke recorded the lowest crime rates.
Homicide rate up for second year in a row
The national homicide rate increased 4% in 2005, in the wake of a 13% increase in 2004, to the highest level in almost a decade. Most of last year's increase was attributable to a rise in homicides in Ontario and Alberta. Police reported 658 homicides last year, 34 more than in 2004.
The national homicide rate peaked in the mid-1970s at 3.0 homicides per 100,000 population. It has generally been dropping since then, reaching a low of 1.7 in 2003. The 2005 rate was 2.0 homicides per 100,000.
Provincially, the highest homicide rates were reported in Saskatchewan (4.3) and Manitoba (4.2), consistent with recent years. Saskatchewan's rate was the highest in nearly 30 years. Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick and Quebec had the lowest homicide rates.
Edmonton had 44 homicides, 10 more than in 2004. This resulted in Edmonton having the highest homicide rate among all CMAs, at 4.3 per 100,000 population. Edmonton's rate was its highest since 1981, when CMA statistics were first collected. Regina, Winnipeg and Saskatoon reported the next highest rates.
With 10 more homicides in 2005 than in 2004, Toronto's homicide rate increased 9%. Toronto's rate of 2.0 homicides per 100,000 population ranked in the middle of Canada's nine largest CMAs.
Québec reported the lowest rate among the nine largest CMAs. Montréal's homicide rate hit its lowest point since 1981.
Increases in other serious violent crimes
Serious violent crimes increased in most provinces, particularly in Ontario and Alberta.
Police reported 772 attempted murders across Canada in 2005, a 14% increase. In addition, there were just over 3,000 aggravated assaults, up 10%, and almost 50,000 assaults with a weapon, up 5%.
The rate of robbery incidents rose 3%, but it was still 15% lower than a decade ago. Police reported almost 29,000 robberies, more than half of which were committed without a weapon of any kind. Robberies committed with a firearm continued to drop, falling 5% last year.
The rate of sexual assault remained stable at the national level. At the provincial level, however, there were some noticeable changes. Quebec recorded a 15% increase in sexual assaults, while New Brunswick, Manitoba and Alberta reported double-digit declines.
Property crime rate at lowest in over 30 years
The property crime rate fell 6% in 2005, the second consecutive decline. This put the rate at its lowest level in more than 30 years.
Police reported a total of 1.2 million property crimes. Among the most common were thefts, which accounted for more than half of all property crimes, as well as break-ins, motor vehicle theft and fraud.
The rate of break-ins, the third largest offence, fell 7%, continuing the downward trend seen since 1991. There were almost 260,000 break-ins reported to police, more than half of which were into residences.
All provinces and territories experienced fewer break-ins, except for a small 3% increase in Prince Edward Island. Saskatchewan continued to have the highest rate among the provinces, despite reporting a 14% drop in 2005.
Police reported more than 160,000 stolen vehicles last year. The rate of auto theft, which has been declining since 1996, fell a further 7% last year. But it was still 56% higher than two decades ago. Recent declines may be due to a combination of anti-theft devices in newer vehicle models, as well as police programs designed to reduce vehicle theft, such as the use of bait cars.
Auto thefts dropped in every province and territory, except in Alberta where the rate remained relatively stable. Manitoba continued to have the highest rate of auto theft in the country.
The rate of counterfeiting currency fell 20% last year, the first drop in five years. Despite the decrease in 2005, counterfeiting has been the fastest growing crime in recent years, increasing fivefold from 2000. The decline in 2005 may have been due partly to the introduction of security-enhanced $10 and $20 bills in 2004 and 2005.
Drug offences, youth crime down
The rate of drug offences dropped 6% in 2005, the second decline in the past three years. This drop was driven by a 12% decrease in cannabis offences, including declines in possession, trafficking and importation and cultivation. However, increases were reported for cocaine offences and other drugs such as crystal meth and ecstasy.
Crime committed by youth aged 12 to 17 fell 6% last year, the second consecutive decline. The youth crime rate, which had declined throughout the 1990s, was generally on the rise between 1999 and 2003.
Violent crime among youth was down 2%, while property crime dropped 12%. The number of young people accused of homicide rose from 44 in 2004 to 65 in 2005, putting the youth accused homicide rate at its highest point in more than a decade.
Definitions, data sources and methods: survey number 3302.
The Juristat: Crime Statistics in Canada, 2005, Vol. 26, no. 4 (85-002-XIE, free) is now available from the Our Products and Services page of our website. A paper version (85-002-XPE, $11/$100) is also available.
For more information, or to enquire about concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact Information and Client Services (toll-free 1-800-387-2231; 613-951-9023), Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics.