Crime and justice
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In 2009, 7.4 million Canadians aged 15 and older in the 10 provinces said they were a victim of a criminal incident in the preceding 12 months. This self-reported rate was essentially unchanged from 2004.
For eight types of crime—sexual assault, robbery, physical assault, break and enter, theft of motor vehicles or parts, theft of household property, vandalism and theft of personal property—the proportion of incidents Canadians reported to police declined from 34% in 2004 to 31% in 2009.
From 2008 to 2009, both the volume and severity of all crime reported to police fell, continuing the downward trend of the past decade. The crime rate, a measure of the volume of police-reported crime across Canada, was 7.2 crimes per 100 people in 2009, a drop from 7.5 in 2008 and 8.5 in 1999.
Nearly 2.2 million crimes were reported to police nationwide in 2009, about 43,000 fewer crimes than in 2008. Three property crimes accounted for most of this drop: 5,000 fewer break-ins, 10,000 fewer mischief offences and 17,000 fewer motor vehicle thefts.
Break-ins reported to police have been steadily declining since peaking in the early 1990s. The 2009 rate was 4% lower than in 2008 and 42% lower than a decade earlier. In 2009, the motor vehicle theft rate was 15% lower than the year before and 40% lower than a decade earlier. On average, 300 vehicles were reported stolen each day in 2009.
The Crime Severity Index (CSI) is a measure of the seriousness of police-reported crime. In 2009, it fell 4% from 2008 and stood 22% lower than in 1999. The only increases in crime severity were in Manitoba and Nunavut. For the past decade, the seriousness of police-reported crime has been highest in the territories and western provinces.
Among Canada's 33 census metropolitan areas (CMAs), Regina reported the highest CSI, followed by Saskatoon, Winnipeg and Kelowna. Canada's largest CMA, Toronto, reported the third-lowest CSI with only Guelph and Québec reporting lower levels.
Youth crime severity has generally been declining since 2001, as has the number of crimes committed by young people aged 12 to 17. However, both the volume and severity of youth violent crime were around 10% higher in 2009 than 10 years earlier. In 2008, about 23% of police-reported youth violent crime took place on school property.
Slight decline in violent crime
Police-reported violent crime is declining, but to a lesser extent than overall crime. Both the police-reported violent CSI and the violent crime rate declined slightly in 2009, down 1%. The violent CSI dropped for a third consecutive year, and was 6% lower than in 1999.
Violent crimes, which range in seriousness from harassing phone calls to homicide, accounted for about 1 in 5 crimes in 2009. Police reported 443,000 violent crimes in 2009; about 2 in 5 were minor assaults. Rates fell for many violent crimes, including serious assault, sexual assault and robbery.
However, some violent crimes increased. There were 806 attempted murders in 2009, 85 more than in 2008. Increases were also reported in the rate of extortion, firearms offences and criminal harassment.
There were 610 homicides in 2009, about the same as the previous year. The homicide rate has been relatively stable for the past decade and well below the peak seen in the mid-1970s. Manitoba reported the highest homicide rate among the provinces for a third consecutive year.
Violent victimization highest among youth
In 2009, younger Canadians were more likely than older Canadians to indicate that they had been victims of a violent crime within the previous 12 months. For example, people aged 15 to 24 were almost 15 times more likely to have been a victim of crime compared with people aged 65 and older.
Rates of violent victimization were also found to be higher among single people, people in common-law relationships and people who identified as an Aboriginal person. Other characteristics associated with increased rates of violent victimization in 2009 included: self-identifying as homosexual, having some form of activity limitation and participating in evening activities outside of the home.
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