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Police-reported crime statistics, 2012

Released: 2013-07-25

The police-reported crime rate, which measures the overall volume of crime that came to the attention of police, continued a long-term decline in 2012, falling 3% from 2011. The Crime Severity Index (CSI), which measures the severity of crime, also decreased 3%.

Canadian police services reported almost 2 million criminal incidents (excluding traffic) in 2012, about 36,000 fewer than in the previous year.

After peaking in 1991, the police-reported crime rate has followed a downward trend, and, in 2012, reached its lowest level since 1972. The CSI was down 28% over the 10 years since 2002.

The decline in the crime rate in 2012 was driven by decreases in some of the most common offences, including mischief, break and enter, disturbing the peace, motor vehicle theft and possession of stolen property.

Chart 1  Chart 1: Police-reported crime rates, Canada, 1962 to 2012 - Description and data table
Police-reported crime rates, Canada, 1962 to 2012

Chart 1: Police-reported crime rates, Canada, 1962 to 2012 - Description and data table

Saskatchewan reports the largest decrease in crime, but continues to have the highest rate among all the provinces

The police-reported crime rate and the CSI fell in most provinces in 2012. However, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and the territories had an increase in their police-reported crime rates and CSIs.

As in previous years, the police-reported crime rates and the crime severity indexes were generally higher in the territories and the western provinces. While Saskatchewan reported the largest decrease in the crime rate, it still had the highest crime rate and CSI among the provinces. Ontario reported the lowest crime rate and CSI.

Chart 2  Chart 2: Police-reported Crime Severity Index, by province and territory, 2012 - Description and data table
Police-reported Crime Severity Index, by province and territory, 2012

Chart 2: Police-reported Crime Severity Index, by province and territory, 2012 - Description and data table

Kelowna reports the highest crime rate, Toronto the lowest

After having the highest police-reported crime rate for the previous four years, Regina ranked second among census metropolitan areas (CMAs) in 2012. Regina's crime rate fell 10% from 2011. With a 6% increase in its rate, Kelowna had the highest crime rate in 2012. However, Regina continued to report the highest CSI.

Toronto reported a 7% decrease in its police-reported crime rate in 2012 and had the lowest crime rate for the sixth consecutive year. Québec had the second lowest rate, and it recorded the lowest CSI.

Most CMAs saw lower CSIs in 2012. However, Moncton, Windsor, Kelowna, Guelph, St. Catharines–Niagara, Gatineau and Brantford had higher CSIs in 2012 than in the previous year.

Chart 3  Chart 3: Police-reported Crime Severity Index, by census metropolitan area, 2012 - Description and data table
Police-reported Crime Severity Index, by census metropolitan area, 2012

Chart 3: Police-reported Crime Severity Index, by census metropolitan area, 2012 - Description and data table

Crime rate is down for most violent crimes

Police services reported just over 415,000 violent incidents in 2012, down about 9,000 from the previous year. The violent crime rate fell 3% to its lowest level since 1987.

The violent Crime Severity Index declined 5% in 2012. This marked the sixth consecutive decrease in the violent CSI.

Police reported 543 homicides in 2012, 55 fewer than in 2011. The homicide rate of 1.56 homicides per 100,000 population was the lowest since 1966.

The police-reported crime rate fell for most violent crimes. In addition to homicides, the largest decreases were in the rates for major sexual assault (levels 2 and 3), robbery, and assault on a peace officer.

In contrast, offences causing death other than homicide, as well as extortion, violent firearm offences and sexual violations against children were among the few violent offences that rose in 2012.

Ninth consecutive decrease in the non-violent Crime Severity Index

As in previous years, 4 out of 5 crimes reported by police were non-violent in nature. Theft of $5,000 or under, mischief, break and enter, and offences related to the administration of justice were the most frequent types of non-violent crime.

The non-violent CSI fell 3% in 2012, its ninth consecutive decline.

The rate of motor vehicle theft declined 7% in 2012, one of the largest decreases among property crimes. Police reported just under 78,000 incidents of motor vehicle theft in 2012.

The rate of break and enter fell 4% in 2012 and was nearly three times lower than 30 years earlier.

Increases in identify fraud, terrorism-related offences and drug offences other than cannabis

Identify fraud was among the few non-violent offences that saw an increase. In 2012, police services reported 12,739 incidents of identity theft or identify fraud, about 700 more than in 2011.

Police reported 114 terrorism-related incidents in 2012, 55 more than in the previous year. This increase was largely because of an unusually high number of hoax terrorism incidents, most of which occurred in Quebec during the student demonstrations in the Spring of 2012.

Police reported more than 109,000 drug-related incidents in 2012, nearly 4,000 fewer than in 2011. This decline was because of a decrease in cannabis-related incidents. At the same time, incidents related to other types of drugs increased.

Theft, mischief, and common assault are the offences most frequently committed by youth

Police reported that just over 125,000 youth aged 12 to 17 were accused of a criminal offence in 2012, about 11,000 less than the previous year. The youth accused rate fell 7%, while the youth CSI declined 6%.

The majority of youth accused in 2012 were involved in non-violent incidents. The most common type of youth crime was theft of $5,000 and under, committed by 18% of youth accused. Common assault (level 1) was the most common type of violent offence committed by youth in 2012, accounting for 11% of youth accused.

Other relatively common offences committed by youth were mischief (11%), administration of justice violations (10%) and cannabis possession (10%).

In 2012, 44% of youth accused were formally charged by police, the rest were dealt with by other means under the Youth Criminal Justice Act.



  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. Differences in local police service policies, procedures and enforcement practices can affect the comparability of crime statistics at the municipal level.

In 2012, it was discovered that a police service had been incorrectly applying the agreed upon definition for reporting child pornography incidents to the Uniform Crime Reporting Survey. As such, the number of violations has been revised for the years 2008 to 2011.

Statistics Canada also collects self-reported victimization data from the General Social Survey on Victimization (GSS).The GSS collects information on self-reported incidents of criminal victimization. The GSS on victimization is carried out every five years, with the most recent cycle in 2009.

The Juristat article "Police-reported crime statistics in Canada, 2012" (Catalogue number85-002-X), is now available. From the Browse by key resource module of our website under Publications, choose All subjects, then Crime and justice, and Juristat.

Additional data are available upon request.

Additional information related to this release will be available in CANSIM soon.

Contact information

For more information, or to enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact us (toll-free 1-800-263-1136; infostats@statcan.gc.ca) or Media Relations (613-951-4636; mediahotline@statcan.gc.ca).

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