Police-reported crime statistics
The police-reported crime rate, which measures the overall volume of crime, continued its long-term downward trend in 2010, declining 5% from 2009. At the same time, the Crime Severity Index, which measures the severity of crime, fell 6%.
The national crime rate has been falling steadily for the past 20 years and is now at its lowest level since 1973.
Canadian police services reported nearly 2.1 million Criminal Code incidents (excluding traffic) last year, about 77,000 fewer than in 2009. Four property crimes accounted for the majority of the decline: theft under $5,000, mischief, motor vehicle thefts and break-ins.
Note to readers
This release is based on a Juristat article that presents information on trends in the volume and severity of overall, violent and non-violent police-reported crime at the national, provincial/territorial and census metropolitan area levels.
The crime rate and the Crime Severity Index are complementary measures of police-reported crime. The crime rate measures the volume of crime reported to, and substantiated by, the police, while the Crime Severity Index measures the seriousness of crime.
Data are drawn from the Uniform Crime Reporting Survey, a census of all crime known to, and substantiated by, police services. These crime statistics conform to a nationally-approved set of common crime categories and definitions and have been systematically reported by police services and submitted to Statistics Canada each year since 1962.
Every five years Statistics Canada releases self-reported victimization data from the General Social Survey (GSS), which measures people's perceptions of their experiences of crime for eight offences. The GSS captures information on self-reported incidents of criminal victimization, whether or not they are reported to police. The most recent victimization data were published in September 2010.
Correction: Decreases were also reported for many other offences, including homicide, attempted murder, serious assaults and robbery. However, some offences did show an increase, including sexual assault, use/discharge of a firearm, criminal harassment and drug offences.
The Crime Severity Index reached its lowest point (82.7) since 1998, the first year for which Index data are available. The decline in crime severity in 2010 was seen virtually across the country. The only exceptions were increases in Newfoundland and Labrador, the Northwest Territories and Nunavut.
Police reported just over 437,000 violent incidents in 2010, about 7,200 fewer than in the previous year. Violent crimes accounted for just over 1 in 5 offences.
The violent Crime Severity Index declined 6% in 2010 to 88.9, the fourth consecutive annual decrease. Decreases were reported in every province except Newfoundland and Labrador, where police reported a 13% increase.
There were 554 homicides, 56 fewer than in 2009. The national rate of 1.62 homicides per 100,000 population in 2010 was the lowest since 1966. The 10% decline in the homicide rate from 2009 to 2010 followed a decade of relative stability.
The national decline in the homicide rate was driven primarily by a large decrease in British Columbia, where the rate (1.83) was at an all-time low. However, the rate in this province was still slightly higher than the national average.
The number of attempted murders also declined, from 801 in 2009 to 693 in 2010. This resulted in the lowest rate for this offence in over 30 years.
Police reported more than 22,000 sexual assaults in 2010. This represented an increase of 5% in the rate since 2009, the first increase in sexual assault since 2005.
Similar to previous years, most crimes (79%) reported by police in 2010 were non-violent. Theft under $5,000, mischief and break-ins accounted for close to two-thirds of the almost 1.7 million non-violent offences.
The non-violent Crime Severity Index fell 6% in 2010 to 80.3, the seventh consecutive decline.
Police reported nearly 200,000 break-ins last year. The rate of break-ins fell 6% in 2010, continuing a steady decline since peaking in the early 1990s.
Nearly 93,000 motor vehicles were reported stolen in 2010. This represented a 15% drop in the rate since 2009 and a continuation of the downward trend seen since the mid-1990s.
Saskatchewan reported the highest rate of motor vehicle theft in 2010. This is a change from a decade-long trend which saw Manitoba reporting the highest rate among the provinces.
The national rate of impaired driving fell 6% from 2009, following three consecutive years of increase. However, the rate of impaired driving has generally been declining since peaking in 1981.
In 2010, police reported over 108,000 drug offences, about half of which were for possession of cannabis. The rate of drug offences increased 10% from 2009, continuing a general upward trend that began in the early 1990s.
Provinces and territories
Among the provinces, Alberta and British Columbia reported the largest declines in crime in 2010. The crime rate fell by 6% in both provinces, while the Crime Severity Index decreased by 8% in Alberta and 7% in British Columbia.
As in previous years, Nunavut and the Northwest Territories continued to report the highest Crime Severity Index values. Among the provinces, Saskatchewan reported the highest Crime Severity Index, followed by Manitoba and British Columbia. The lowest Crime Severity Index values were seen in Ontario, Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick.
The volume and severity of crime fell or remained stable across virtually all census metropolitan areas (CMAs) in 2010, including Canada's 10 largest cities.
In 2010, three CMAs reported an increase in crime severity. St. John's had the largest increase, up 12%, followed by Greater Sudbury (+4%) and Peterborough (+3%).
As has been the case since 1998, Regina reported the highest Crime Severity Index, followed by Saskatoon and Winnipeg. Calgary was the only western CMA to have a Crime Severity Index below the national average.
Guelph reported the lowest Crime Severity Index for the fourth year in a row, followed by Québec, Toronto and Ottawa.
Police reported that nearly 153,000 youth aged 12 to 17 were accused of a crime in 2010, almost 15,000 fewer than the previous year. The youth crime rate, which measures the overall volume of crime committed by youth, declined by 7%.
Youth crime rates declined for most offences in 2010, including homicide, serious assaults, motor vehicle thefts and break-ins. However, robbery was one of the few offences to show an increase for youth in 2010, up 2%.
The youth Crime Severity Index has also declined over the past 10 years, including a 6% drop in 2010. However, the severity of violent crime committed by youth has not seen the same decrease. Despite a 4% drop between 2009 and 2010, the youth violent Crime Severity Index was 5% higher than in 2000.
Definitions, data sources and methods: survey number 3302.
The Juristat article "Police-reported crime statistics in Canada, 2010" (85-002-X, free), is now available. From the Key resource module of our website under Publications, choose All subjects, then Crime and Justice, and Juristat. Crime data are also available for 238 police services in communities of over 10,000 population (Crime Severity Index table).
For more information, or to enquire about the 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.
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