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Police-reported cybercrime in Canada, 2012

Released: 2014-09-25

In 2012, 9,084 incidents of cybercrime were reported by Canadian police services participating in the newest version of the Uniform Crime Reporting Survey. This represented a rate of 33 cybercrime incidents per 100,000 population.

Property violations accounted for 61% of police-reported cybercrimes in 2012, totalling 5,544 incidents. Fraud, the most common property violation, accounted for more than half (54%) of all cybercrimes coming to the attention of police. An accused was identified by police in a relatively small proportion (6%) of property-related cybercrimes in 2012.

Intimidation violations, composed of violations involving the threat of violence, accounted for one in five police-reported cybercrimes in 2012, totalling 1,839 incidents. Uttering threats (8%) and criminal harassment (6%) were the most common intimidation violations. An accused was identified in 55% of cybercrimes related to intimidation violations, with 18% of incidents resulting in the laying of a charge.

In 2012, police reported 1,441 incidents of cybercrime where the cyber-related violation was a sexual violation, accounting for 16% of all police-reported cybercrimes. Luring a child via a computer made up 6% of all police-reported cybercrimes, while child pornography-related offences, which include accessing, possessing, producing and distributing child pornography, accounted for 9% of reported cybercrimes. An accused was identified in 31% of sexual cyber-related violations, with 25% of incidents resulting in the laying of a charge.

In 2012, police identified 2,051 individuals accused of incidents of cybercrime. More than three-quarters (76%) of all accused were men. In the case of cybercrimes of a sexual nature, males accounted for 94% of accused identified by police.

Accused identified by police in connection with intimidation violations tended to be young, whereas those accused of cybercrimes of a sexual nature tended to be somewhat older. More than one-quarter (28%) of those accused of intimidation violations were under the age of 18, with the proportion of accused declining with increasing age. In contrast, 22% of those accused of sexual cybercrimes were aged 25 to 34, the largest proportion among age groups.

Chart 1  Chart 1: Age distribution of people accused of a cyber-related violation against the person, by type of violation (sexual and intimidation), selected police services, 2012 - Description and data table
Age distribution of people accused of a cyber-related violation against the person, by type of violation (sexual and intimidation), selected police services, 2012

Chart 1: Age distribution of people accused of a cyber-related violation against the person, by type of violation (sexual and intimidation), selected police services, 2012 - Description and data table

In 2012, police identified 2,070 victims of violent incidents involving a cybercrime. This included 468 victims of sexual violations and 1,602 victims of non-sexual violent violations. Females made up the majority of victims of violent incidents associated with a cybercrime (69%), most notably in the case of sexual violations (84%).

Victims of police-reported cybercrime are generally young. Overall, 42% of victims of violent incidents involving a cybercrime identified by police were aged 17 and under, while 17% of victims were aged 18 to 24. The prevalence of victims under the age of 18 was especially pronounced for violations of a sexual nature. In 2012, 96% of victims of sexual violations associated with a cybercrime were aged 17 and under, including 10% of victims under the age of 12.

Chart 2  Chart 2: Age distribution of victims of violent violations associated with a cybercrime, by type of violation (sexual and non-sexual), selected police services, 2012 - Description and data table
Age distribution of victims of violent violations associated with a cybercrime, by type of violation (sexual and non-sexual), selected police services, 2012

Chart 2: Age distribution of victims of violent violations associated with a cybercrime, by type of violation (sexual and non-sexual), selected police services, 2012 - Description and data table

Overall, almost three-quarters (73%) of victims of violent incidents associated with a cybercrime knew the accused. For most incidents, the accused was known to the victim as a friend or acquaintance (45%), a current or former intimate partner (24%) or a family member (5%).

Victims of sexual violations involving a cybercrime were less likely to know the accused (57%) compared with victims of non-sexual violent violations (77%). The accused was a stranger for the majority (55%) of victims of luring a child via a computer, the most common violent sexual violation associated with cybercrimes.

A small proportion (110 incidents or 1%) of police-reported cybercrimes were committed in conjunction with a more serious violation, such as a sexual assault or physical assault. In 2012, there were 71 incidents of cybercrime (87 victims) involving a sexual assault or sexual interference offence and 26 incidents (30 victims) involving a physical assault. An accused was identified in 90% of cybercrimes that involved a more serious violation, with 82% of incidents resulting in the laying of a charge.


  Note to readers

Police-reported cybercrimes refer to criminal offences involving a computer or the Internet as either the target of a crime or as an instrument used to commit a crime. A criminal incident may comprise multiple violations of the law. For the purposes of analyzing incidents of cybercrime, one distinct violation within the incident was identified as the 'cyber-related violation.'

Police services covering 80% of the population of Canada reported cybercrime data to the Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics in 2012 through the Incident-based Uniform Crime Reporting Survey (UCR2.2). Data from Saint John, Québec, Toronto, Calgary, and the Ontario Provincial Police were not available and thus were not included in this analysis.

As a result of the complexity of child pornography cybercrimes, data for these types of offenses likely reflect the number of active or closed investigations for the year rather than the total number of incidents reported to police. The violation "child pornography" includes offences under section 163.1 of the Criminal Code, which makes it illegal to access, possess, make, print, or distribute child pornography. When the actual victim is not identified, this offence is reported to the Uniform Crime Reporting Survey with the most serious violation being "child pornography." In cases where an actual victim is identified, police will report the most serious violation as sexual assault, sexual exploitation or other sexual violations against children, and child pornography may be reported as a secondary violation.

The Juristat article "Police-reported cybercrime 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.

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; 514-283-8300; infostats@statcan.gc.ca) or Media Relations (613-951-4636; mediahotline@statcan.gc.ca).

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