Paul Reed, Statistics CanadaStatistics On Crime And Law Enforcement (Series Z1-65)
Statistics On Court Proceedings (Series Z66-172)
Statistics On Penal Institutions, Pardons, and Parole (Series Z173-226)
Statistics On Juvenile Delinquency (Series Z227-291)
Population Statistics, (Series Z292-328)
This section on crime and justice contains 328 series, arranged in four main sub-sections: crime and law enforcement, (series Z1-65); court proceedings, (series Z66-172); penal institutions, (series Z173-226); and juvenile delinquency, (series Z227-291). Population statistics are appended to facilitate use of the series, (series Z292-328). These series have been selected and arranged not only to provide usable quantitative information covering the field of criminal justice but also to indicate something of the historical development of justice statistics in Canada over the past century.
Although we have endeavoured to maintain essential continuity with series from the Justice Section in the first edition, numerous changes have been made for this second edition. Beyond the normal updating and revising of series, there have been additions and deletions reflecting developments in Canadian law and in justice statistics over the past 15 years. Extensive statistics from police forces, for example, have been included for the first time while series on suicide, bankruptcy and commercial failure have been omitted. Certain series (e.g. some on murder) have been included but drawn from different sources than in the first edition. In addition, the sequence of presentation of the series has been altered to accommodate these and other changes.
Endemic to extended time series is the question of their accuracy and consistency. For this section, potentially relevant figures which were known with certainty to be variably incomplete from year to year (such as police statistics on crime from 1920 to 1961) have been omitted.
The series pertain almost exclusively to criminal matters because there are so few data on other aspects of the justice system. In this respect, the organization and content of these statistics are naturally determined to a great degree by the organization of the criminal justice system itself. Criminal law is embodied principally in the Criminal Code of Canada, a federal statute which first came into force on 1 July 1893 and was founded on the English draft code of 1878. The Criminal Code was last revised in 1954 and came into effect on 1 April, 1955; the latest consolidated revisions were printed in 1970.
The British North America Act (BNA Act) of 1867 specifies in Section 91 that criminal law and procedures in criminal matters are under the exclusive authority of the Parliament of Canada; Section 92 states that the organization and maintenance of all provincial courts, both of civil and criminal jurisdiction, and of procedures in civil matters in these courts are under the legislative authority of the provinces. Under Section 92 of the BNA Act the provincial power to enforce provincial legislation by imposing penalties has resulted in the creation of an important body of law which is criminal in all but name but violation of which does not constitute an indictable offence under existing legislation (examples of this may be found in series Z60-61).
The provisions of the Criminal Code apply throughout Canada except (a) in the Northwest Territories, wherever they are inconsistent with the Northwest Territories Act, and (b) in the Yukon Territory, wherever they are inconsistent with the Yukon Act. In addition, Parliament may declare offences defined in other statutes to be criminal acts (i.e., the Narcotic Control Act) and to put such declarations into force throughout Canada; this fact increases the comparability of data in time series of criminal offences.
By the very nature of law breaking and law enforcement in our society, statistics pertaining to crime and justice are not, by and large, simple measures of simple phenomena. Measuring crime and justice activities has long been one of the more intractable problems of social statistics for a variety of reasons. Because a significant proportion of crime is not reported or known to the police, it is not investigated, prosecuted, punished - or statistically enumerated. It has been observed that criminal statistics are facts (more or less faithfully recorded) about the amount of business that officially comes to the attention of the criminal justice system, and how it is dealt with; but these are only partial and selective facts about actual crime and criminals. As well, there are alternative, different, and sometimes incommensurate units of count, which may be used to measure the same phenomenon. The series which follow, for example, variously give counts of incidents, persons, occurrences, offences, offenders, appearances, victims, convictions, etc. The locus and mode of measurement or enumeration may seriously affect the statistics - crime as measured by the police is not likely to coincide with a measure taken from the courts; unduplicated counts of persons are notoriously more difficult to prepare accurately than duplicated counts. Of course, because criminal acts are defined by law, statistical measures of crime may change whenever the law is changed.
Since the measure of crime is a function of the level and nature of law enforcement and judicial activity, it is not possible, using official statistics, to measure the extent or the nature of crime in Canada independently of measuring the behaviour of the justice system.
The 1970s have witnessed several new trends in the field of justice statistics. Considerable criticism has been levelled against official statistics on crime and justice in Canada and other countries in recent years for both technical and conceptual shortcomings. With the computerization of administrative record systems and statistical data processing, some technical improvements have been made such as evaluating and reducing the non-reporting of data. The problem of interdependency between statistical measures of crime and law enforcement is being addressed through special direct surveys of the population to ascertain the extent of criminal victimizations.
Computerization has also resulted in improved statistical coverage or detail in some programs. However, the very large increases in the workload of the entire justice system has made the derivation of statistical data from administrative record-keeping systems much more complex and costly.
The tables are available as comma separated value files (csv). They may be viewed using a variety of software. You may have to create an association between your software application and the csv files. The pdf files should be used to verify table formats. For example, footnotes appear in a column to the right of the cell they reference in the csv files; while in the pdf files footnotes appear as superscript numbers.
Police statistics on crime were first published in Canada in 1921 as a section of Criminal-Statistics,-1920. These statistics were provided in the early years by only a small and incomplete number of municipal police forces. Over the ensuing four decades, there was a gradual increase in the number of police forces reporting and in the detail of the figures they reported. These statistics did not at all provide a full picture of crime or law enforcement in Canada, and were not comparable from year to year until 1 January 1962, when the Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) System commenced. This system was developed by the Dominion Bureau of Statistics in concert with the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, Committee on the Uniform Recording of Police Statistics. The UCR system was designed to provide more complete, accurate, and standardized (comparable) statistics on crime and police activity in Canada than had previously been possible.
Initially, the system required police departments to send monthly crime statistics reports to Statistics Canada covering 19 Criminal Code offence categories, the Narcotic Control Act, the Food and Drug Act, other federal statutes, and municipal by-laws. Standardized offence definitions and rules for counting were established. In the reporting of offences, police included the number reported or known to the police, offences adjudged by police to be unfounded, the actual number (calculated by subtracting the number of unfounded offences from reported or known offences), offences cleared (or solved), and persons charged. Separate figures were compiled for both adults and juveniles who were charged. The upper age limit for juveniles was specified by each province under the Juvenile Delinquents Act.
These rules of compilation continue to the present with the same person being counted for each separate incident or occasion where he or she is charged with the commission of an offence. (An incident is the alleged occurrence of at least one offence in one single, distinct, place and time.) Where several charges are laid against a person for offences in one incident, only the most serious offence is counted by police for statistical purposes. The most serious offence is defined as the one having the greatest maximum penalty by law, or the offence that is considered the most serious by police when the penalties are the same, or the offence which appears first in the offence classification.
Since commencement of the UCR system in 1962 there have been minor changes to increase the number of offence categories and (in 1974) to report the number of juveniles dealt with informally as well as formally, but there have been no fundamental changes in the basic rules of the reporting system.
Under the UUCR system, crime reports are expected from all police forces in communities with a population of 750 and over, including urban areas policed under contract by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), the Ontario Provincial Police, and the Quebec Provincial Police (now the Quebec Police Force). Also included are communities of less than 750 population, townships, districts and rural municipalities policed under contract by the RCMP, QPP, or OPP. Excluded from the reporting system are communities of less than 750 population, and communities of more than 750 which do not have police forces or contracted police protection. In 1962, there were 698 urban communities in Canada with a population of over 750 operating their own police forces, and reports were received from 91.4 percent of these communities (although some respondents submitted reports for only part of the year as it was the inaugural year of the Uniform Crime Reporting System). In addition, of course, reports were submitted by the RCMP, the OPP and the QPP. Because nearly all of the non-reporting communities were small in size, it is estimated that this non-reporting and part-year reporting resulted in a national statistical under-enumeration less than 2 per cent of crime recorded by police.
In 1975, there were 503 urban communities having populations of over 750 operating their own police forces. (The process of amalgamation and merging of smaller forces and new agreements between municipalities and contracted police forces accounts for the continuing decline in the number of potential reporting points.) In 1975, reports were received from 96.2 per cent of these communities.
While statistics were tabulated manually and mechanically from police reports for publication in 1962, by 1973 all statistics were created by computer, with a substantial portion of the total volume of statistical data on crimes being submitted to Statistics Canada on magnetic tape.
Commencing in 1974, police-reported crime statistics have been presented in broad groupings: (i) crimes of violence, (ii) property crimes, (iii) other Criminal Code offences, (iv) federal statute drug offences, (v) other federal statute offences, (vi) provincial statute offences, and (vii) municipal by-law offences. By agreement of the Uniform Crime Reporting Committee of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, only selected Criminal Code offences were to be reported by police forces in sufficient detail to permit those offences to be included in the first two groups - crimes of violence and property crimes. For this reason, these two general categories do not include all the appropriate offences; not included in the category, 'crimes of violence', is kidnapping, for example, while both arson and wilful damage are omitted from the category of 'property crimes'. These and other such offences are included in the category, 'other Criminal Code offences'. There is one exception to this which should be noted, however; robbery, although classified in the Criminal Code as an offence "against the right of property", is counted in these crime statistics as a crime of violence.
Statistics produced by the UCR system constitute official crime statistics in Canada. Questions have been raised in recent years as to the reliability of these statistics as accurate measures of the extent and nature of crime in Canada. It is now recognized, for example, that a significant portion of criminal occurrences are not reported to or known by the police; it is also known that changes in law enforcement policies or programs may have a marked effect on crime statistics, making comparisons over time and among jurisdictions highly problematic. These statistics, then, are a mixed measure of both law-breaking and law enforcement behaviour together. Insofar as they are a measure of crime or law-breaking, they are a measure only of publicly known and recorded crime and are probably more indicative of the distribution or nature of this law breaking than of its magnitude.
Source: 1972 to 1975, Statistics Canada, Crime and Traffic Enforcement Statistics, (Catalogue 85-205); for 1961 to 1971, Dominion Bureau of Statistics, Crime Statistics (Police), (Catalogue 85-205).
Statistics derived from reports by police forces and published by Statistics Canada prior to 1962 were incomplete and therefore could not be compared from year to year. The two categories, 'crimes of violence' and 'crimes against property', correspond to categories conventionally used in UCR publications; they do not correspond to the distinction in the Criminal Code between offences against the person and offences against property. In crime statistics, robbery is classified as a crime of violence while the Criminal Code classifies it as an offence against property. In similar fashion, the Criminal Code classifies kidnapping and abduction as offences against the person, yet they are excluded from the category of 'crimes of violence' in crime statistics and listed instead as 'other criminal code'.
In the Uniform Crime Report statistics, 'crimes of violence' comprises murder, manslaughter, infanticide (for 1974 and 1975 only), rape, indecent assault, assault, and robbery. 'Property crimes' is a category encompassing breaking and entering, theft, possession of stolen goods, and fraud. Up to 1971, the Criminal Code distinguished between 'theft of $50 and under' and 'theft over $50'. This was changed in 1972 to 'theft of $200 and under' and 'theft over $200' respectively. This is one of many statutory changes which inevitably have had an effect on the statistics and must be taken into account when making year-to-year comparisons using the subcategories of theft.
Federal drug offences are those specified by the Narcotic Control Act and the Food and Drugs Act. Other federal statute offences are those specified by such federal statutes as the Post Office Act, Bankruptcy Act, Customs Act, Excise Act, and others.
Source: for 1972 to 1975, Statistics Canada, Crime and Traffic Enforcement Statistics, (Catalogue 85-205); for 1962 to 1971, Statistics Canada Crime Statistics (Police), (Catalogue 85-205); for 1961, Statistics Canada Judicial Division, unpublished figures.
Since 1961, a Homicide Statistics program has been operated by Statistics Canada in conjunction with police forces across the country. Whenever an unusual death is reported to or found by police, it is investigated and designated as either accidental or a homicide of some kind - either a murder, manslaughter, or infanticide. All cases of homicide are statistically recorded through the Uniform Crime Reporting program; as well, more detailed information is transmitted on a special form to the Homicide Statistics program of Statistics Canada. Because figures are prepared more rigorously in the Homicide Statistics program and are continuously being updated, they do not always coincide perfectly with figures in published crime reports. Series Z15-20 are drawn from annual crime reports; series Z21-27 are derived from the Homicide Statistics program.
In Canadian law, murder is the most serious form of culpable homicide (the others being manslaughter and infanticide). Broadly stated, it is the act of unlawfully causing the death of another person intentionally, or recklessly with intent to cause bodily harm. The legal definition of murder and its several specific forms has undergone numerous changes since 1961. (For a summary of these changes, see the Appendix, Homicide in Canada.)
Z15. One murder offence is counted for every victim. In incidents having more than one victim, as many offences would be counted as there were victims. All such reported offences are those believed or alleged by police to have been murder; subsequent investigation in some cases reveals that it was not, in fact, a murder. Furthermore, a significant proportion of cases designated as murder by police are ultimately found by courts not to be murder. Thus, the count of actual murder offences is, to an unknown degree, higher than the true number.
Z16. When police, in each case, establish the identity of the person or persons believed to have committed the murder, they lay a charge of murder against that person. (Only in a few rare exceptions is no charge laid - when the suspect is in a mental institution or has left the country, for example.) Although a person may have more than one murder charge laid against him in an incident where there are several victims, that person would be counted only once for statistical purposes.
Source: for 1975, Statistics Canada, Murder Statistics, (Catalogue 85-209); for 1961 to 1974, Statistics Canada, Homicide in Canada, (Catalogue 85-505); for 1926 to 1960, Historical Statistics of Canada, first edition, Section Y: Justice, series Y67.
The number of murder offences (series Z15) does not provide a valid measure of the total number of criminal homicide deaths. In Canada, there are two separate and quite different national statistical programs within Statistics Canada to enumerate the number of criminal homicide deaths: the Homicide Statistics program of the Justice Statistics Division, and the Vital Statistics Section of the Health Division. These two systems draw data from different sources and according to different definitions and rules of counting; naturally, the figures they produce are not identical. While the basic data in the Homicide Statistics program is provided by police forces throughout the country, Vital Statistics figures are based on reports from death certificates provided by provincial registrars, which are usually issued by coroners following a post-mortem inquiry, investigation, or inquest. In the Homicide Statistics program, homicide is defined to include all suspected cases of criminal homicide (murder, manslaughter, and infanticide) occurring in Canada, regardless of whether a suspect has been identified in the killing; it does not include Canadian residents killed in other countries as does the Vital Statistics program.
Figures in Series Z21 have been drawn from both sources - for the years 1961 to 1975, from the Homicide Statistics program; for the years 1926 to 1960, from Historical Statistics of Canada which in turn drew its figures from both Vital Statistics reports (with some adjustment) and from annual reports of the Joint Committee of the Senate and the House of Commons on Capital Punishment, Corporal Punishment and Lotteries. Excluded from figures for all years are cases of criminal negligence causing death, deaths due to legal intervention by the police, deaths by legal execution, and deaths due to the late effects of some criminal act.
Murder incidents, distribution by type of suspect-victim relationship, Canada, 1961 to 1975
Source: for 1975, Statistics Canada, Murder Statistics, (Catalogue 85-209); for 1961 to 1974, Statistics Canada, Homicide in Canada, (Catalogue 85-505).
The phenomenon of murder may be enumerated in terms of the number of victims (or offences), or the number of incidents. An incident is the occurrence of one or more criminal offences at one place and time in what is essentially a single event. For every incident designated as murder, police record it as being unsolved, or if solved, the nature of the incident in terms of the relationship between suspect(s) and victim(s).
Source: for 1972 to 1975, Statistics Canada, Crime and Traffic Enforcement Statistics, (Catalogue 85-205); for 1962 to 1971, Statistics Canada, Crime Statistics (Police), (Catalogue 85-205).
Rape is an offence whose statistical incidence is especially prone to being affected by social factors and law enforcement policies. It is a crime long known to be seriously underenumerated because of the unwillingness of many victims to report the event to police. There is believed to have been a relaxation in recent years in this reluctance to report, possibly creating the appearance of a greater increase in the number and rate of rape offences than may actually have taken place.
Rape is also notable for having an unusually high proportion of offences which are reported or known to the police ultimately designated by police as unfounded, resulting in a significantly lower count of 'actual' offences. The unreliability of statistics on rape offences is further exacerbated by variations in law enforcement policy pertaining to whether an incident is statistically classified as rape, attempted rape, or indecent assault on a female. Careful examination of figures since 1974 (when the last offence was designated for the first time in published crime statistics) shows great variation amongthe provinces in the extent and proportion of rape and attempted rape, and indecent assault on a female.
Although the Criminal Code defines rape as an offence committed by males, females are charged with the offence as well by virtue of being parties to the offence under Section 21 of the Criminal Code of Canada.
Source: for 1972 to 1975, Statistics Canada, Crime and Traffic Enforcement Statistics, (Catalogue 85-205); for 1962 to 1971, Statistics Canada, Crime Statistics (Police), (Catalogue 85-205).
The Criminal Code states that "a person commits an assault when (a) without the consent of another person or with consent, where it is obtained by fraud, he applies force intentionally to the person of the other, directly or indirectly; (b) he attempts or threatens, by an act or gesture, to apply force to the person of the other, if he has or causes the other to believe upon reasonable grounds that he has present ability to effect his purpose; or (c) while openly wearing or carrying a weapon or an imitation thereof, he accosts or impedes another person and begs."
Figures on assault reported by police currently (1973 onward) include wounding, assault causing bodily harm, assault on a police officer, assault on a public officer or peace officer, and other assaults. The latter category comprises common assault, assault with intent to resist arrest, and assault to rescue goods seized. Indecent assaults are classified as sexual offences and excluded from the statistical category of assaults. From 1962 to 1973, figures for only two categories of assault were published: wounding and assault - not indecent. (From 1951, when assaults were first reported by police, until 1961, figures were published for aggravated assault or assault causing bodily harm, and assault on a police, public, or peace officer.) Depending on the seriousness and circumstances of an assault, law enforcement officials may lay a charge of either common assault (the least serious), assault causing bodily harm, wounding, or attempted murder (the most serious, but statistically recorded in regular publications in the category of homicide).
Source: for 1972 to 1975, Statistics Canada, Crime and Traffic Enforcement Statistics, (Catalogue 85-205); for 1962 to 1971, Statistics Canada, Crime Statistics (Police), (Catalogue 85-205).
Robbery is defined in the Criminal Code to be stealing or unlawful taking with violence, the threat of violence, or while armed. Notwithstanding this, the Criminal Code designates robbery to be an offence against the rights of property. It is therefore a criminal act both against property and against the person. In police-reported crime statistics, it is classified as a crime of violence; in court-reported statistics, it is classified as an offence against property.
Breaking and entering includes any unlawful entry of a place with intent to commit or the commission of an indictable offence, whether or not force was used to gain entry. A 'place' may be a dwelling house, a building or other such structure, or a vehicle, vessel, aircraft, or trailer. Where it is a dwelling house that is unlawfully entered, the maximum penalty is life imprisonment; the maximum penalty for unlawful entry into any other place is fourteen years.
Prior to 1974, published crime statistics provided only an aggregate count of breaking and entering offences; since 1974, published statistics have indicated separately the number of offences of breaking and entering of business premises, of residences, and of other places.
From the commencement of the UCR system in 1962 until 1971, figures for three categories of theft were published: theft - motor vehicle, theft over $50, and theft of $50 and under. In 1972, the latter two categories were changed to theft over $200, and theft of $200 and under, respectively, directly as a result of amendments to the Criminal Code.
In 1974 and in subsequent years, figures have been published not only for these three main categories of theft but for more specific types of theft within each; for theft - motor vehicle, separate statistics are shown for thefts of automobiles, of trucks, of motorcycles, and of other motor vehicles. For the other two main categories of theft, separate statistics are shown for thefts of bicycles, thefts from motor vehicles, shoplifting, and other thefts. Figures given in Series Z52-57 are aggregate counts covering all categories and types of theft as reported by police.
Serious traffic incidents with persons charged, and minor traffic charges, Canada, 1962 to 1975
Source: for 1972 to 1975, Statistics Canada, Crime and Traffic Enforcement Statistics, (Catalogue 85-205); for 1962 to 1971, Statistics Canada, Traffic Enforcement Statistics, (Catalogue 85-206).
One of the major responsibilities of police is to enforce traffic laws and to investigate motor vehicle accidents. Statistics are provided in series Z58-62 as a measure of police activity in the latter areas. Traffic incidents are those in which one or more motor vehicles are involved, with motor vehicles comprising automobiles, trucks, motorcycles, and other mechanically or otherwise propelled road vehicles except those which operate on rails.
Although traffic statistics were published by Statistics Canada for many years prior to 1962, the figures were incomplete and incomparable for the same reasons as were crime statistics. With the advent of the UCR system (which covered traffic as well as crime statistics), 1962 was the first year of relatively reliable traffic statistics, which are reported by exactly the same police forces as report crime statistics.
Since 1962, up to eight Criminal Code traffic offence categories have been separately reported, along with traffic offences under three provincial statutes. The Criminal Code offences are criminal negligence causing death, criminal negligence causing bodily harm, criminal negligence in operating a motor vehicle, failing to stop or remain at the scene of an accident, dangerous driving, failing or refusing to provide a sample of breath, driving while impaired, and driving while disqualified or while license suspended or cancelled. The provincial statute offences are failing to stop or remain at the scene of an accident, dangerous driving or without due care and attention, and driving while disqualified or while license suspended or cancelled. For these Criminal Code and provincial statute offences, the actual numbers of offences and the numbers of persons charged have been provided by police since 1962. For minor traffic offences under all other federal and provincial statutes and municipal by-laws, only the total number of charges laid is reported each year. (The numbers of charges, shown in series Z62, cannot be compared with the numbers of persons charged, shown in series Z59 and Z61.)
Because of the fact that the three selected provincial statute offences closely parallel certain Criminal Code offences, police have the discretionary authority to lay a charge under either the Criminal Code or under the respective provincial Highway Traffic Act. Law enforcement policy varies from province to province and among police forces in which statute is used.
In the chronology of traffic statistics in Canada, several interesting items may be cited. In 1876, the first year of nationally published judicial statistics, there is no reference to offences of a traffic nature. In 1900, there was a statistical record of convictions and sentences for offences relating to highways. Figures for 1920 provided more specific details as to breaches of various street and traffic regulations - by motor vehicles, by bicycles, by cabs and drays, and by obstructing street and sidewalk. Further included in 1922 figures were breaches of street and traffic regulations by vehicles exceeding the speed limit, and in 1923, by vehicles overloading, and in 1924, by driving a motor vehicle while drunk. In 1938, driving while drunk was statistically recorded as an indictable offence.
Source: for 1960 to 1975, Statistics Canada, Police Administration Statistics, (Catalogue 85-204); for 1950 to 1959, Statistics Canada, Police Statistics (Catalogue 85-203); for 1926 to 1949, Statistics Canada, Statistics of Criminal and Other Offences, Police Statistics Section; for 1921 to 1925, Statistics Canada, Criminal Statistics, Police Statistics Section.
In their annual reports to Statistics Canada which commenced in 1921, municipal police forces recorded the number of policemen employed as of 31 December of the preceding year. Until standardization and full reporting by all police forces was implemented in the Uniform Crime Reporting system in 1962, the published figures did not provide complete or accurate totals. From 1920 until 1946 figures were given only for a partial and changing number of municipal police forces, and the ratio of policemen per 1,000 population (Series Z64) for those years and until 1956 applied only as an average to reporting municipalities.
In 1947 figures were added for the RCMP, the British Columbia Provincial Police, the Canadian Pacific Railway Police, and the Canadian National Railway Police, followed in 1948 by the further addition of the OPP. (In 1950, law enforcement in British Columbia was taken over by the RCMP under contract to the provincial government.) The QPP first provided figures in 1960, but only for certain municipal areas in which they had jurisdiction. Prior to 1960, reports were received from municipal police forces only in urban areas having populations of 4,000 or more. In 1960, this was changed to urban areas having populations of 750 or more.
With implementation of the UCR system in 1962, the final major changes in police reporting of administrative information took place providing complete and standardized statistics; the QPP provided figures for the entire force, and the National Harbours Board Police commenced reporting. There has in subsequent years been some improvement in the level of detail of reported figures.
Statistics on criminal judicial proceedings in Canada have been collected from courts and published on a nationwide basis since 1876. The Criminal Statistics Act of that year made specific provisions for the furnishing of information by the various trial courts of general jurisdiction on their criminal proceedings and by wardens of penal institutions on their inmates to the Minister of Agriculture who published until 1911 an annual report based on these returns. The first reports, entitled Criminal Statistics, showed the number of persons charged, acquitted and convicted, with sentences for the latter, by judicial district, and by types of offences, together with the major social characteristics of convicted persons. For the years 1912 to 1916, the annual reports were published under the aegis of the Minister of Trade and Commerce; since 1917, they have been published by Statistics Canada. The first Statistics Act of 1918, which provided for the establishment of the Bureau, consolidated the stipulations of the Criminal Statistics Act concerning the centralized collection of statistics by requiring that information pertaining to court proceedings be transmitted to the Dominion Statistician. Thus, The Dominion Bureau of Statistics collected and Statistics Canada continues to collect data on criminal proceedings from registrars of the Assize and General Sessions of the Peace and Supreme Courts, and from clerks of provincial, county and district courts, officials of the Magistrate's and Family Courts, and from Justices of the Peace.
In 1926, the title of the published annual statistical reports was changed from Criminal Statistics to Statistics of Criminal and Other Offences, and this latter title has continued to the latest year of publication, 1972. These publications constitute a continuous statistical record covering nearly an entire century; few of the constituent series, however, have continued without change of some kind over this period. For example, in 1876 the basic and initial unit of count was 'persons charged'; in 1895 the figures were given as 'charges' until 1923, when the primary unit of count reverted to 'persons charged'. In 1926 the figures changed once again to 'charges' which remained in effect through 1948. The figures for 1949 and all subsequent years have been for 'persons charged'. These two units of statistical tabulation differ significantly and cannot be used interchangeably.
The comparability of these judicial statistics is further restricted by changes in the method of counting. A person may be charged with one or more offences occurring in the same single incident, and may be convicted of more than one offence at the same trial. Prior to 1893, there was partial unduplicated counting of identical charges and convictions for the same incident and heard at the same trial; that is, if a person was charged and convicted for two offences of robbery, only one was recorded, but if the same person was charged and convicted at the same trial of both assault and robbery, both offences were recorded. From 1893 through 1948, all charges and convictions were counted, including duplicate ones. During this period, for every accused person charged and (or) convicted for more than one offence at the same trial, each one of the offences was recorded.
A Dominion-Provincial conference on Criminal Statistics, held in Ottawa in 1949, proposed that the basic unit of compilation become the person. Consequently figures for 1949 and all subsequent years provide a fully unduplicated count of persons with each different individual being counted once, for only one selected offence for which he or she was charged or convicted, regardless of the total number of charges or convictions that may have been registered against him or her during the calendar year. This offence is selected according to the following criteria: (i) if the person was tried on several charges, the offence selected is that for which proceedings were carried to the furthest stage - conviction and sentence; (ii) if there were several convictions, the offence selected is that for which the heaviest punishment was imposed; (iii) if the final result of proceedings on two or more charges was the same, the offence selected is the more serious one as measured by the maximum penalty allowed by law; (iv) if a person was prosecuted for one offence and convicted of another - for example, charged with murder and convicted of manslaughter - the offence selected is the one of which the person was convicted.
Although the figures published since 1949 based on an unduplicated count of persons are not directly comparable with figures for earlier years, in order to make some historical comparisons possible, Statistics Canada continued to publish a limited number of tables showing figures based on offences. Comparisons of figures for extended historical periods should be made only with careful reading both of footnotes to the series presented in this chapter and of explanatory notes in the annual publications, Criminal Statistics and Statistics of Criminal and Other Proceedings. (For a detailed study of the continuities and discontinuities in these published series, see the Justice Statistics Division's research report, Judicial Statistics as History: A Case Study, prepared in 1974.)
For the preceeding reasons generally, and because the extent of non-reporting and under-reporting by courts is unknown but believed to have been significant, the figures must be used with extreme caution. Also making difficult the comparison of figures between years were such factors as changes in the legal definition of offences and sometimes in the meaning attached even to common terms, as well as changes in police and court procedures. An offence is any violation of the law; if the law changes, or if it is not enforced in the same way by the group whose function it is to do so, the comparability of the statistics is affected. There are always new laws which accompany social changes and new laws 'create' new offences.
Changes and improvements in collecting and processing source data as well as changes in the number and sizes of reporting units also affect the comparability of these judicial statistics. In 1876, there were 85 judicial districts reporting and by 1972 the number had risen to about 1200 counts, from which about 40,000 forms were received (exclusive of Alberta and Québec). No data were provided from the Yukon Territory until 1899; from Alberta and Saskatchewan until 1906; and from Newfoundland until 1951. Likewise, no data from Quebec and Alberta have been included in published statistics after 1968 as a result of the development of different court statistics systems in those provinces. (Statistics for Quebec for 1968, 1969, and 1970 will become available from Statistics Canada in September, 1978; figures for Quebec for other years, and for Alberta, may be released at an unspecified later date.) These variations in the number of reporting jurisdictions must be taken into account when analysing the figures, especially for trend analysis.
Criminal offences consist of an array of prohibited acts, ranging from the relatively minor offence of a traffic violation to murder, the most serious crime. Generally, the more serious crimes are by far the least numerous, but socially and legally the most important. Canada's legal system recognizes two broad types of offence: indictable offences, which include all serious crimes covered by the Criminal Code as well as by such other federal statutes as the Combines Investigation Act, the Food and Drugs Act, the Narcotic Control Act, the Customs Act, and the Post Office Act, and summary or non-indictable offences which comprise all breaches of municipal by-laws and provincial statutes, and certain federal statutes, including less serious Criminal Code offences. Indictable offences are serious offences by virtue of being considered to be offences not only against a person but against the state and the entire social order. Indictable offences are specifically designated as such in the statutes creating them and providing for their punishment. Indictable offences differ from summary offences as well by having in many instances more formal and more varied modes of trial and appeal procedure and by carrying more severe maximum penalties. Summary or ordinary offences are those which are not expressly made indictable; they are, as a rule, minor misdemeanours and are at most considered wronging the person only and not society. The distinction between indictable and other offences is not based entirely on the nature of the act itself because in some cases the same act may be qualified as indictable or not according to the circumstances or severity of the act or according to the mode of trial which is elected by the Crown (prosecutor). Offences have been classified under these two headings since the inception of published court statistics in 1876. Only figures relating to indictable offences are presented in the time series in this section; statistics relating to the other offences can be found in the annual reports, Criminal Statistics and Statistics of Criminal and Other Offences.
In the published annual reports of court statistics, the distinction has traditionally been made among a number of broad, general classes of indictable offences: (i) offences against the person, (ii) offences against property with violence, (iii) offences against property without violence, (iv) malicious offences against property, (v) forgery and offences relating to currency, and (vi) other offences. It should be noted that these general classes do not fully correspond either to offence groupings in the Criminal Code or, in recent years, to the general categories used in police-reported crime statistics - crimes of violence, property crimes, other Criminal Code offences, federal statute offences, provincial statute offences, and municipal by-law offences. The six offence groupings in published court statistics may not, therefore, be compared with those in UCR crime statistics. However, the offences contained in the groupings in court statistics have remained consistent since the series began in 1876 (with the exception of enactment and repeal of statutes specifying offences within these groupings) and may, other things being equal, be compared over time.
It should be noted that all figures given in this section on court proceedings are almost exclusively for adults; statistics on court proceedings involving juveniles will be presented separately in a later sub-section, due to the significantly different ways in which these proceedings involving juveniles must, by law, be conducted. This caveat also covers juveniles whose cases were elevated to adult court, except in Series Z109-123.
The figures presented in these series concerning court proceedings do not by any means represent the total number of offences, nor do they reliably represent the total number of offenders. They provide a measure of those offences which were prosecuted and statistically reported as such. Only an unmeasured portion of all committed offences are known to law enforcement officials, and not all of those which are known are prosecuted. Thus, these statistics are principally a measure of court proceedings and decisions. Because of the unknown magnitude of non-reporting and under-reporting by courts, and because of the changing method of enumeration, these figures probably should not be taken singly nor literally as reliable counts of the units given (persons, convictions, etc.); rather, they ought to be viewed at best as measures of relative distributions, on the untested assumption that the rate of non-reporting and under-reporting does not vary sufficiently from year to year, from sex to sex, and from region to region, to distort their representativeness.
Convictions for indictable offences of persons aged 16 years and older, Canada, and the provinces, 1886 to 1972
Source: for 1961 to 1972, Statistics Canada, Statistics of Criminal and Other Offences, (Catalogue 85-201); for 1886 to 1960, Historical Statistics of Canada, first edition, Section Y: Justice, series Y1-13.
Although national court-reported statistics were first published in 1876, figures for years prior to 1886 are not comparable with those for later years. Until 1884, no distinction was made between indictable and other offences, and in 1885 the indictable offences which were tried summarily were counted with the summary offences. Several other features make difficult the comparison of figures from year to year. Up to and including 1950, figures are given for the 12 months ending 30 September; later figures are for the calendar year. Until 1948, statistics on indictable crime were compiled on the basis of offences and figures for the number of persons convicted are not available on a satisfactory basis (see introductory note to this section for a fuller explanation). Even after 1949, some duplications existed in the data based on the number of persons convicted; in 1953, revised processing methods eliminated some duplication.
Allowance must also be made for the fact that not all provinces and territories are included in every year's figures (see footnotes to the table), and after 1967 the figures were prepared according to the various provincial upper age limits for juveniles (see footnote (2) of series Z19-20 for details) instead of the uniform upper age limit of 16 years. Figures pertaining to juveniles under age 16 (or the respective provincial age limit in 1968 and subsequent years) are given in series Z227-248.
The convictions enumerated in these and other following series derived from Statistics of Criminal and Other Offences are from trial courts and are not necessarily the final disposition, some of the verdicts (both convictions and acquittals) of lower courts are disallowed or overturned by appellate courts. Separate figures on appeals are provided in series Z168-172.
Source: for 1961 to 1972, Statistics Canada, Statistics of Criminal and Other Offences, (Catalogue 85-201); for 1886 to 1960, Historical Statistics of Canada, first edition Section Y: Justice, series Y27-32.
Figures prior to 1886 have been omitted as not comparable (see comments for Series Z66-78). A set of historical figures for the period 1876 through 1936, in which no distinction is made between indictable and other offences, can be found in the annual report for 1936, Statistics of Criminal and Other Offences, Historical Appendix, table I.
Figures for 1886 to 1921 include both adults and juveniles under 16 years of age; these figures are not comparable with those for 1922 and later years which relate only to persons aged 16 years and over.
Offences are grouped in classes which correspond only approximately to major divisions of the Criminal Code. These classes have remained in use in judicial statistics since 1876; while they may have closely approximated major divisions of the law in those early years, they do so only imperfectly today as a result of the evolution of the criminal law in Canada over the past century.
Offences against federal statutes other than the Criminal Code are included and classified under the heading 'other offences', series Z84. Figures in this residual category are strongly influenced by the inclusion of new offences and of existing summary offences made indictable by new provisions in the law, as well as by changes in judicial practices relating to offences which may be tried either as indictable or as non-indictable, according to the circumstances or the severity of the case.
Z79. Since 1876 'offences against the person' have included not only murder, rape, assaults of various kinds, kidnapping and abduction, but also such varied offences as bigamy and polygamy, seduction, procuration, carnally knowing a girl of tender years, incest and other sexual offences, abandoning child, wife desertion, neglecting to provide for family, abortion, infanticide, libel, dangerous operation of a vessel, intimidation, endangering safety of passengers on a railway, threatening letters, criminal negligence causing no death or harm, and numerous others.
Z80. 'Offences against property with violence' include robbery, highway robbery, extortion, burglary, having burglars tools, breaking and entering, possession of explosives and damages by, forcible entry and detainer, and others.
Z81. 'Offences against property without violence' have comprised theft, theft of stray cattle, receiving or having in possession stolen goods, false pretenses, fraud, embezzlement, sacrilege, bringing stolen property into Canada, stealing post letters, theft by conversion, and others.
Z82. 'Malicious offences against property' is a category consisting almost exclusively of arson and attempted arson, killing and maiming cattle; also included are other unspecified malicious injuries to or interference with property.
Z83. 'Forgery and offences against currency' include counterfeiting, forgery, uttering forged documents, and other offences against currency.
Z84. 'Other offences' includes a large number of other offences specified by the Criminal Code, other federal statutes, provincial statutes, and municipal by-laws. Among those specifically cited in Criminal Statistics and Statistics of Criminal and Other Offences are counselling or aiding suicide, gambling, having an illicit still, riot, indecent exposure, threatening or insulting or profane language, keeping or frequenting a bawdy house, escaping prison, smuggling, vagrancy, sedition and usury. Offences defined by other federal statutes which may be included in this category in some years are the Post Office Act, the Excise Act and Customs Act, the Combines Investigation Act, the Bank Act, the Trade Mark Act, the Election Act, and the Bankruptcy Act. Among the Provincial statute offences included are breaches of liquor laws and traffic laws such as dangerous driving and failing to stop at the scene of an accident.
Source: Historical Statistics of Canada, first edition, Section Y: Justice, series Y33-41.
These series are presented unchanged from the first edition of Historical Statistics of Canada. The publication of figures in series Z85-93 tabulated on the basis of convictions was discontinued in 1951, two years after the changing of the basic counting unit from offence to person. For similar figures covering the period 1952 to 1972, see series Z94-102.
Figures for 1886 through 1921 include both adults and juveniles under 16 years of age and are not comparable with those for later years relating only to adult persons aged 16 years and over.
Courts impose sentences which are authorized and in some cases required by law. Thus, changes between years in each of these series may reflect not only an increase or decrease in the number of offences for which the sentence indicated in the heading was imposed, but also changes in the provisions of the law with respect to minimum or mandatory sentences, changes in judicial practices (greater leniency or severity), and changes in available penal facilities and institutions required to carry out a specific type of sentence. Figures in series Z88 and Z93 are especially affected by this last factor.
Only offenders sentenced to two years of imprisonment or more could be sent to a penitentiary (Z89-91). Under the Criminal Code in force before 1955, treason, piracy, murder, and rape were the offences for which capital punishment was prescribed (Z92). A sentence could be suspended (Z93) only in the case of a first offender convicted of an offence punishable with not more than two years' imprisonment. If the offence was punishable with more than two years' imprisonment, a suspended sentence could not be authorized unless the Crown Counsel concurred.
Source: Statistics Canada, Statistics of Criminal and Other Offences, (Catalogue 85-201).
These are substantially modified continuations of series Z85-93; they are not comparable with those in the preceding set for two reasons: series Z94-102 are based on unduplicated counts of persons whereas series Z85-93 are based on counts of offences, and the categories of sentence are incomparably different. These categories were changed as a result of changes in law as well as shifts in the convention of statistical reporting.
The exclusion of figures for Quebec and Alberta from 1969 to 1972 makes difficult the comparison of series in these years with earlier figures.
These series cover adults only. From 1952 to 1967, the upper age limit of juveniles was less than 16 years; in 1968 this convention was discontinued and the upper age limit established by each of the provinces was used.
Source: Historical Statistics of Canada, first edition, Section Y: Justice, series Y61-66.
Series Z103-108 are presented without change from the first edition of Historical Statistics of Canada. The figures relate both to adults as well as to juveniles.
These figures provide a measure of how murder incidents and suspects were dealt with; they are not indicative of the incidence of murder (see series Z15-20 and Z22). If a murder is unsolved, or if the suspect(s) disappears, or is adjudged mentally incapacitated, or commits suicide, no charge is laid. It is quite common for suspects to be charged with murder but convicted of manslaughter or some other lesser offence. Prior to 1953, figures on convictions for reduced offences are not available; therefore they have not been included for later years in order to ensure comparability.
Source: Statistics Canada, Murder Statistics, (Catalogue 85-209).
With commencement of the Homicide Statistics program by the Judicial Section of Statistics Canada in 1961, statistics on murder cases were greatly improved in detail and accuracy. Although statistics on murder as routinely reported by the courts have continued to be published annually in Statistics of Criminal and Other Offences, they are not as reliable nor as extensive as those produced in the Homicide Statistics program. The figures comprising series Z109-113 and Z114-123 are derived from the Homicide Statistics Branch and are a modified extension of the preceding series Z103-108.
Since a person charged with more than one murder would be counted once for each charge, these figures are not unduplicated counts of persons.
Figures for the years 1961-1966 include both adults and juveniles, whether tried in adult courts or in juvenile courts. For the years 1967-1975, the figures include only adults and juveniles tried in adult courts. For these series in all years, the upper age limit of juveniles has been taken as that established by each province under the Juvenile Delinquents Act (see footnote (2) to series Z19-20 for details).
Z111. These figures show the numbers of persons originally charged with murder and acquitted either of murder or of some lesser offence (to which the original charge was reduced prior to, or during, trial) such as manslaughter, wounding, or assault causing bodily harm.
The number of persons charged is tabulated according to the year in which the murder incident was reported or discovered, not necessarily the year in which the charge was laid (this is accomplished by continual updating and revision of figures in the Homicide Statistics program) whereas the numbers of acquittals and convictions are tabulated according to the years in which they were rendered. For example, if police in 1970 discovered an apparent murder which took place in 1968 and charged a suspect in 1971 with that murder, the existing 1970 count of persons would have one more added. When that person was tried in, say, 1972, the acquittal or conviction would be counted in the 1972 figures. Since murder cases are often lengthy, judicial dispositions may not have been made in a considerable number of cases for which charges were reported for 1974 and 1975. For these reasons as well as the fact that there are other possible dispositions in addition to those shown in series Z110-113, the totals of acquittals and convictions in each year do not equal the number of charges.
The verdicts indicated by these series are final verdicts from appellate courts in cases where the verdict of the trial court was appealed. In cases where the initial verdict was not appealed, or where the appeal had not been heard, or the results of the appeal had not yet been reported for statistical purposes, the verdicts are those rendered by the trial court and may have been changed later.
For numbers of actual offences and duplicated counts of the numbers of persons charged as reported by police, see series Z15-20; for numbers of murder incidents and their distribution by type, see series Z22-27.
Sentences of persons charged with murder and convicted for murder or manslaughter, Canada, 1961 to 1975
Source: Statistics Canada, Justice Statistics Division, Homicide Statistics program, unpublished figures.
Since 1961 there have been a number of major changes in the statutory definition of murder and its penalty; these changes must be taken into account when comparing the figures from year to year.
During the period covered by the series, the minimum mandatory penalty for murder has been life imprisonment and the maximum sentence, death. For the offence of manslaughter, life imprisonment is the maximum but not a mandatory sentence. For this reason, and because the majority of convictions resulting from charges of murder are for manslaughter, there are numerous sentences of less than life imprisonment shown for each year.
Z121. Although courts have sentenced persons convicted of murder to death in some years since 1961, all but two of these death sentences have been commuted to life imprisonment. The last in which death sentences were carried out in Canada was 1962 when two men were hanged. A de facto moratorium on the death penalty was in force in Canada from 1967 onward, and the death penalty for murder was finally abolished by Parliament in 1976.
The sentences shown in these series are final sentences in cases where the verdict or sentence of the trial court was appealed. In cases where the initial verdict or sentence were not appealed, or where the appeal had not been heard, or the results of the appeal had not yet been reported for statistical purposes, the sentences are those imposed by the trial court. It should be noted that figures in series Z103-108 pertain only to trial court decisions and do not include any changes of these decisions by appellate courts.
For all years in these series, figures include sentences for all convicted adults and juveniles tried in adult courts; excluded are juveniles tried in juvenile court.
Source: Statistics Canada, Statistics of Criminal and Other Offences, (Catalogue 85-201).
Figures in series Z124-134 are based on unduplicated counts of adult persons; only one offence (of any kind) per individual is counted within any one calendar year. Details of the rules by which one offence is selected in cases where the same person is charged with more than one offence during a year are given in the General note to this section on Court Proceedings. These figures, therefore, do not represent a complete count of all rape convictions in Canada, and are not directly comparable with figures for earlier years.
The maximum sentence permitted by law upon conviction for rape is life imprisonment. The penalty for attempted rape is up to ten years' imprisonment.
Although the figures are generally comparable among the years shown, it should be noted that Quebec and Alberta are excluded for 1969 and subsequent years, and that from 1968 on the upper age limit for juveniles (who are excluded from these figures) was changed from under 16 years to the various age limits specified by individual provinces.
See series Z28-33 for figures reported by police on actual offences of rape and the numbers of persons charged (a duplicated count) for the years 1962 to 1975.
The category 'Extra sentence' (series Z134 in this table, and also series Z145, Z156, and Z166 in the following tables) has included over the years such varied designations as 'Strap', 'Lash', 'Penal institution and fine', 'Probation and fine', 'Jail and bound over to keep the peace', 'Order prohibiting driving', 'Order prohibiting navigating', 'Deportation', and occasionally 'Preventive detention'. This last category, although quite rare, has been imposed in cases where a person has been adjudged to be an habitual criminal or a dangerous sexual offender.
Source: Statistics Canada, Statistics of Criminal and Other Offences, (Catalogue 85-201).
Series Z135-145 constitute unduplicated counts of adult persons, with only one offence of any kind counted for any individual within a calendar year. The figures are therefore an incomplete count of all convictions for robbery. Although the figures are generally comparable among the years shown, it should be noted that Quebec and Alberta are not included in the figures for 1969 to 1972, and that for the years 1968 to 1972 the provincial upper age limits for juveniles were used instead of a universal upper age limit of under 16 years.
Robbery is a completed theft accomplished through the use or threat of violence. The Criminal Code of Canada specifies a maximum penalty of life imprisonment for robbery and fourteen years for extortion (which is included with robbery for statistical purposes).
The reader is referred to the first edition of Historical Statistics of Canada which presented statistics on 'Convictions for robbery, by sentence, Canada, 1879 to 1951', Series Y51-60. These statistics were taken from an Historical Appendix to Statistics of Criminal and Other Offences discontinued in 1952. Because of changes in the rules of compilation and because of changes in the statistical categories of sentence, figures for the earlier period (1879 to 1951) are not comparable with those for the latter period (1952 to 1972).
See series Z40-45 for police-reported numbers of actual offences of robbery and a (duplicated) count of persons charged, yearly since 1962.
Source: Statistics Canada Statistics of Criminal and Other Offences, (Catalogue 85-201).
Being any unlawful entry of a place or vehicle to commit an offence, breaking and entering is punishable by imprisonment up to life if the place is a residence and for a term of up to fourteen years for other places or a vehicle.
Series Z146-156 provide unduplicated counts of adult persons convicted for breaking and entering and their sentences, with only one offence of any kind counted for any individual within the calendar year. These figures are therefore an incomplete count of all convictions for breaking and entering offences. Series for the years 1969-1972 differ from those for other years in that they do not include figures for Quebec or Alberta; for 1968 to 1972, they differ as well by virtue of the upper age limit of juveniles being that prescribed by each province rather than, as in years prior to 1968, a universal age limit of less than 16 years.
See series Z46-51 for numbers of actual breaking and entering offences and persons charged (a duplicated count) as reported by police since 1962.
Although the first edition of Historical Statistics of Canada contained statistics on 'Convictions for Breaking and Entering, By Sentence, Canada, 1879 to 1951' in series Y42-50 (taken from an Historical Appendix to Statistics of Criminal and other Offences) discontinued after 1951, those figures are not comparable with figures in series Z146-156 because of differences in rules of compilation and in the categories of sentence used in publications.
Source: Statistics Canada, Statistics of Criminal and Other Offences, (Catalogue 85-201).
Upon conviction, theft over $200 is punishable by a term of imprisonment of up to ten years, and theft of $200 or less is punishable by a term of up to two years if proceeded with by indictment. The amount of $200 came into effect in 1972; in earlier years the amount was $50. Figures in series Z157-166 are based on unduplicated counts of convicted adult persons; conviction for only one offence of any kind per individual is counted within any calendar year. (For details concerning the rules by which one offence is selected for persons who are charged with more than one offence during a year, see the introductory notes to this section on court proceedings.) These figures, for this reason, do not provide a complete count of all convictions for theft.
Figures for 1968 to 1972 do not include Quebec or Alberta, and were tabulated using different upper age limits for juveniles than were used for earlier years.
See series Z52-57 for figures reported by police relating to actual offences and persons charged (not an unduplicated count).
Source: for 1961 to 1974, Department of National Health and Welfare, Bureau of Dangerous Drugs, annual reports; for 1921 to 1960, Historical Statistics of Canada, First edition, Section Y: Justice, series Y68.
The first law prohibiting the importation, manufacture, and sale of opium in Canada was enacted in 1908: in 1911, the law was extended to other drugs as defined by the Governor General-in-Council, and was known as the Opium and Narcotic Drug Act. This was a federal statute and according to an amendment of 1921, any person who committed an offence could be proceeded against under the Act either by indictment or upon summary conviction with the exception of the offence of selling, giving away, or distributing any drug to a minor; in the latter case, the law required the proceeding to be by indictment. This Act was repealed on September 15, 1961, and replaced by the federal Narcotic Control Act. The RCMP have been responsible since 1920 for enforcing this Act and the related Food and Drugs Act.
Figures are based on offences; a person is counted as many times as he or she is convicted in a year.
Source: for 1961 to 1972, Statistics Canada, Statistics of Criminal and Other Offences, (Catalogue 85-201); for 1937 to 1960, Historical Statistics of Canada, first edition, Section Y: Justice, series Y69-73.
Either the verdict or the sentence rendered by a trial court, or both, may be appealed by the accused, the Crown, or the informant. Appeals are heard by the Appeal Division of the provincial Supreme Courts and the Supreme Court of Canada.
There have been several distinct types of penal and detentive institutions in Canada: penitentiaries; provincial prisons; other provincial institutions such as reformatories, industrial farms, and training schools for juveniles; and municipal jails. With the evolution of penal and correctional philosophy, nearly all reformatories and industrial farms and training schools have gradually been phased out in recent years. Since municipal jails serve mainly as temporary detention centres rather than as places where convicted persons serve their sentences, the principal penal institutions are penitentiaries and prisons.
Under the BNA Act, the federal Government of Canada has exclusive responsibility for establishing, maintaining, and managing penitentiaries. Penitentiaries are the penal institutions where convicted persons sentenced to two years' imprisonment or more serve their terms. Provincial prisons are under the jurisdiction of their provincial governments; persons sentenced to less than two years' imprisonment serve their terms in these institutions. (Since 1972, however, there have been federal-provincial transfer agreements under which persons with sentences of less than two years may in certain circumstances serve their term in a penitentiary and some persons with sentences of two years or more may serve their terms in provincial prisons.)
In 1867, the first year for which statistics are available, there were three penitentiaries - in Halifax, St. John, and Kingston. By 1975, there were 50 penitentiaries and related federal institutions, including psychiatric and reception centres and minimum, medium, and maximum security penitentiaries.
Three types of information pertaining to penitentiaries are available (not necessarily for all years): the number of prisoners in penitentiaries on a specified date, the movement of population in penitentiaries (admissions, transfers, and releases throughout the year), and selected social characteristics of penitentiary inmates. Since 1867, statistics concerning penitentiaries have been provided in annual reports of penitentiary officials and of the federal Department of Justice and the Ministry of the Solicitor General. In 1918 Statistics Canada commenced publication of statistics on the number of prisoners in custody at the beginning and end of the reporting year, along with the number of admissions and releases, for penitentiaries and provincial penal institutions. These statistics were first published in the annual reports, Statistics of Criminal and Other Offences and later in Correctional Statistics and Penitentiary Statistics. And in 1937, Statistics Canada began collecting statistics on legal and social characteristics of convicted persons admitted to penitentiaries which was first published in 1938. Penitentiary statistics published by Statistics Canada are now based on data derived from administrative records by the Canadian Penitentiary Service.
Statistics on provincial prisons (or jails) and other penal institutions have been published since 1918 by Statistics Canada in the annual reports, Statistics of Criminal and Other Offences until 1955, and in Correctional Statistics thereafter. A program for uniform reporting of statistical data specifically on training schools was inaugurated in 1963, with 1964 being the first complete year for which data were available. Publication of statistics continued until 1974; data were accumulated for several years following without being published, and the program was ultimately terminated.
Details on the various sources of statistical information concerning penal institutions for the years 1867 to 1960 will be found in the first edition of Historical Statistics of Canada, p. 640.
Source: for 1975, Statistics Canada, Penitentiary Statistics, (Catalogue 85-210); for 1961 to 1974, Statistics Canada, Correctional Institution Statistics (Catalogue 85-207); for 1867 to 1960, Historical Statistics of Canada, first edition, Section Y: Justice, series Y156-157.
The figures given show the penitentiary population 'on register' as of the last day of the reporting year; they are not a measure of the average or maximum population during that year. These figures do not include the small numbers of persons not convicted but being held in temporary detention in penitentiaries, nor persons who were on register but released on temporary absence on the day of count. Included are prisoners transferred from provincial prisons under federal-provincial transfer agreements; not included are penitentiary inmates who have been transferred to a provincial prison to serve their sentences.
The number of penitentiary inmates in each year and any trends over periods of time are affected by a great many factors including the rates of commission, apprehension, and conviction for serious crimes, the prisoner capacity of penitentiaries, and judicial policy regarding sentences of two years and longer.
Source: Historical Statistics of Canada, first edition, Section Y: Justice, series Y158-165.
In 1956 a change was made in the definition of the 'admitted convict' used as the basic statistical unit; this change was adjudged by the author of the Justice Section of the first edition of Historical Statistics of Canada not to have affected significantly the comparability of figures in each series. Presumably it is because of the very small numbers of females who are admitted to or in penitentiaries that statistics are given only for males at time of admission (see series Z173-174).
It should be noted that the age distribution of males as recorded at time of admission is not necessarily equivalent to the age distribution of the male penitentiary population at any other time - the latter distribution would be relatively skewed, to an unknown degree, toward the higher ages.
Source: for 1975, Statistics Canada, Penitentiary Statistics (Catalogue 85-210); for 1965 to 1974, Statistics Canada, Correctional Institution Statistics, (Catalogue 85-207); for 1961 to 1964, Annual Report of the Commissioner of Penitentiaries.
These series are an extension in modified and more detailed form of series Z175-182. These figures do not include admissions due to transfers between penitentiaries.
Number of prisoners in reformatories and training schools, by sex, in jails, and in all penal institutions, Canada, 1916 to 1956
Source: for 1956, Statistics Canada, Correctional Institutions Statistics, (Catalogue 85-207); for 1916 to 1955, Historical Statistics of Canada, first edition, Section Y: Justice, series Y170-173.
Figures show the population on the last day of the reporting year. The term 'jails', caption for Z200, has been replaced since 1957 by the terms 'prisons' or 'provincial adult institutions'. Jails or prisons contain a relatively larger proportion of persons being held in detention (awaiting arraignment or trial, or whose probation or parole have been suspended or forfeited) than do other provincial institutions and penitentiaries. They also experience a much higher rate of turnover of prisoners due to the considerable numbers of prisoners serving short sentences. Thus, the year-end figures are not at all indicative of the total number of persons who were incarcerated (whether for detention only or for punishment) in those institutions during the year.
Number of prisoners in training schools, reformatories, and industrial farms, by sex, and in provincial adult institutions and all penal institutions, Canada, 1957 to 1975
Source: Statistics Canada, Correctional Institution Statistics, (Catalogue 85-207).
As a result of changes in the categories of penal institution in the published statistics, series Z198-201 could not be updated; those series are extended in modified form in series Z202-208. For example, over the two decades prior to 1975, reformatories shifted over time from being penal institutions for young persons to being institutions mainly for adults, and statistics for them were no longer published in a category by themselves.
The caption of series Z206, 'Provincial Adult Institutions', was changed in 1957 from 'Jails', used previously.
The figures for 'Training Schools' for the mid-1960s and later years are of questionable validity; the publication Correctional Institution Statistics gives the total number of juveniles in training schools in 1973 as 2,053 while the publication Training Schools gives the total as 3,561.
Source: Historical Statistics of Canada, first edition, Section Y: Justice, series Y174-177.
According to the Ticket of Leave Act of 1899 (which was repealed in 1958), the Governor General was empowered to grant to any convicted person under sentence of imprisonment in any penal institution the right to be at large in Canada during such portion of his term of imprisonment and according to such conditions as he deemed appropriate. All releases granted under this Act are classified in series Z210, 'Released Under Ticket of Leave'. Figures in series Z210 become more meaningful if related for each year to the population in penal institutions during that year. Comparability of figures across years is affected by such changes as the inclusion in figures from 1929 to 1950 of releases on temporary tickets of leave. Fluctuations in this series are due partly to changes in policy (re: the portion of term of imprisonment that must be served before the release is granted), as well as to changes in practices as to what legal disposition under which the prerogative of mercy of the Crown is exercised.
'Other conditional or unconditional pardons', series Z211, include commutations of death sentences, also presented separately in series Z107, remission of corporal punishment, granting of free pardons on the ground of innocence established and admitted by the prosecution, granting of free pardons on the ground of special considerations of an unusual character, remission of sentences of imprisonment (not to be confused with the benefit of parole under the Ticket of Leave Act), and remission in whole or in part of fines, pecuniary penalties, forfeitures and costs. As with the other series, these figures are better understood when related to the population of persons who may benefit from conditional and unconditional pardons. Fluctuations in this series are due to changes in policy as well as to special proclamations of clemency which would affect a great number of convicted persons.
Source: National Parole Board, Annual Reports.
The Ticket of Leave Act was repealed in 1958 and replaced by the Parole Act. The first annual report of the Parole Board, published for the calendar year 1959, gave figures pertinent to these series for 1957 and 1958. These statistics continued to be given in the annual reports of the National Parole Board until 1969. The federal Ministry of the Solicitor General was established in October, 1966 with jurisdiction over the National Parole Board, and these statistics were published in 1970 and subsequent years in the annual report of the Ministry of the Solicitor General. These annual reports of the Solicitor General cover fiscal years ending 31 March, but for the years 1970 and 1971 calendar year figures were also presented.
Z215. Mandatory supervision means that an inmate who is not on parole but is released before the end of his sentence, through remission, will be subject to mandatory supervision if the period of his remission exceeds 60 days.
Z216. Under day parole, an inmate may be released from prison to enter a community for such purposes as education or employment or some similar purpose. He or she must continually return to the institution but not necessarily every night. Day parole is regarded as an effective way of finding how an inmate may act on an ordinary parole.
Z217. Day parole (temporary) relates to release for special work projects or educational programs of more limited and specified duration.
Source: for 1961 to 1975, Canadian Penitentiary Service, annual reports and unpublished figures; for 1895 to 1960, Historical Statistics of Canada, first edition Section Y: Justice, series Y166-169.
For each year before 1936, the average operating cost per capita (that is, per prisoner) shown in series Z225, and the average operating cost per capita per diem in series Z226 were calculated on the net cost - the actual cost less the value of supplies on hand at the end of the fiscal year, and less the estimated value of labour on production of capital and revenue. The actual cost was computed by adding the net expenditures (gross expenditures less revenues) and the value of supplies on hand at the beginning of the fiscal year. For 1936 and later years, the operating costs for services rendered and goods consumed during the fiscal year have been used as a basis for computing the average costs per capita. This item does not include capital expenditures; on the other hand, revenues are not deducted. Therefore, figures for 1936 onward are not strictly comparable with those for previous years. From 1944 to 1949, the average cost given in the annual reports for these years was computed on the basis of operating costs including disbursement on capital. In order to make the figures comparable, the basis of computation was revised and the equivalent average costs calculated accordingly.
These figures have not been adjusted to take account of transfers of prisoners between federal penitentiaries and provincial prisons, under federal-provincial transfer agreements.
Because capital costs are not included in these figures, these series are not indicative of the total penitentiary costs.
Juveniles in Canada are dealt with differently, and under a different law, as compared to adults.
Many judicial statistics pertaining to juveniles are therefore different from, and not comparable with, those for adults and are presented separately in this section. All of series Z227-291 are based on data provided by courts. For the numbers of juveniles charged as reported by police since 1962, refer to series Z32-33, Z38-39, Z44-45, Z50-51, and Z56-57. Statistics on juveniles in penal institutions will be found in series Z176-178, Z184-186, Z198-199, and Z202-203. In order to facilitate the use and interpretation of juvenile delinquency statistics, census and estimated population figures for persons aged 7-15 years are presented in series Z305-328.
The necessity for treating children who commit offences differently from adult offenders was formally recognized in Canada in 1894. A law was passed in that year which amended the Criminal Code and provided for separate trials of 'young persons apparently under the age of sixteen years' and for 'their incarceration, prior to sentence, separately from older persons'. But it was only the Juvenile Delinquents Act of 1908 that provided for special courts under provincial statutes to deal with young offenders.
The Juvenile Delinquents Act approximately as we know it today came into force on 14 June, 1929, and was revised in 1952. This Act states that a 'juvenile delinquent' is "any child who violates any provision of the Criminal Code or of any federal or provincial statute, or of any by-law or ordinance of any municipality, or who is guilty of sexual immorality or any similar form of vice, or who is liable by reason of any other act to be committed to an industrial school or juvenile reformatory under any federal or provincial statute". A commission of any of these acts constitutes an offence known as a delinquency.
The Juvenile Delinquents Act further defines a child as a boy or a girl apparently or actually under the age of sixteen years, with a provision empowering the Governor in Council to raise the age limit in any province up to 18 years. The upper age limit was set at under 16 in Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Ontario, and Saskatchewan; at under 17 in Newfoundland, and at under 18 in Quebec, Manitoba, and British Columbia. In Alberta, the provision for the older age in effect from 1935 to 1950 was repealed in 1951 and the age limit of under 16 years, as stated in the Juvenile Delinquents Act of 1929, was put into effect. Subsequently, during the same year, the definition was changed again with the upper limit of under 18 years re-established for girls only; in 1956, the age limit was set at under 18 for both girls and boys. In 1970 the upper age limit in British Columbia was changed to under 17 years. In Newfoundland, for offences committed by young persons under 17 years of age, proceedings which would have been under the Criminal Code and the Juvenile Delinquents Act of Canada in other provinces are under a provincial statute, the Welfare of Children Act, which operates by virtue of the terms of agreement between Canada and Newfoundland. Until 1968, figures relating to juvenile delinquents aged 16 years and over in those provinces where the upper limit was higher than 16 were included in the statistics for court proceedings pertaining to adults (series Z66-172); for the years 1953 to 1958, for example, their numbers were 1,176, 1,283, 1,212, 1,526, 2,202 and 2,311 respectively (as reported in Statistics Canada Juvenile Delinquents, report for each year). And juveniles, regardless of age, whose cases, because of their seriousness or other circumstances, were heard in adult court, would be counted in the court statistics on adults.
Statistics on juveniles have been published in Canada beginning in 1886 and presented as part of Criminal Statistics until 1926. During the decade following the enactment of the Juvenile Delinquent Act in 1908 many courts for juveniles were established but data on juvenile delinquents continued to be reported and tabulated together with figures on adult offenders until 1922. By that year a sufficient number of juvenile courts had been established to warrant Statistics Canada commencing the separate statistical handling of juvenile delinquency cases. From 1922 to 1926 inclusive, juvenile delinquency figures were tabulated on the basis of offences; it was only in 1927 that 'appearance at court' became the unit of counting. Since 1927, Statistics Canada has published an annual report entitled Juvenile Delinquents, which until 1969 was based on this method of compilation. For 1970 and following years, the procedure was revised to produce two different kinds of figures; an unduplicated count of juveniles appearing before the court; and a count of delinquencies, consisting of all delinquencies recorded during that year but excluding the most serious delinquency committed by each juvenile in the particular year, which is recorded in the unduplicated count of juveniles. Figures for 1970 and later years are therefore not commensurate with those prior to 1970 and have not been included. Their comparability has been impaired as well by the fact that a number of provinces since 1970 have reorganized their systems of statistical reporting of juveniles; these reorganizations resulted in very marked increases in the number of forms submitted from certain provinces in some years, indicating a significant rate of non-reporting in earlier years. (The problem of non-reporting and under-reporting inherent in adult court statistics, mentioned in the General note to series Z66-172, also afflicts statistics from juvenile courts.) Note that series Z270-281 cover the period 1886 to 1926 while all the other series start with 1927; they are not comparable.
Several reasons may be cited as to why court statistics on juveniles are not comparable with court statistics on adults. Juvenile delinquency statistics are tabulated (with the exception of series Z270-281) on the basis of appearances at court. The figures therefore do not provide an unduplicated count of the number of children brought before the court, for a child referred to a court two or more times during the year is counted as a separate case each time. Neither do they represent the number of offences committed by the boys and girls brought before a court for more than one offence because, for a juvenile charged with two or more offences at the same hearing, only the most serious offence would be recorded. To illustrate: for the years from 1953 to 1957, the number of court appearances per hundred of the unduplicated number of boys was 109, 108, 107, 105 and 109 respectively (from Statistics Canada Juvenile Delinquents, yearly reports).
There is and has been extensive variation among the provinces in judicial policy regarding procedures for juvenile cases. At one extreme, a formal charge is laid in every instance where a delinquent act is alleged to have occurred; at the other extreme, cases which are not deemed serious by law enforcement and court officials may be dealt with informally without any charge being laid, or formal charges may be withdrawn if it is thought that no benefit would accrue or where the appearance of the juvenile in court might prove damaging to him or to his family. Therefore figures would be smaller in jurisdictions where there was a policy of more informal handling of juvenile delinquents. It is a known fact that the number of juvenile cases dealt with informally and not statistically recorded exceeds the number of cases formally heard and recorded, and that the proportion of informally heard cases is on the increase.
Finally, the dispositions for juveniles brought before a court for some reason are not the same as the potential dispositions for adults. While adults are found guilty or not guilty at trial, there is not so strong an element of responsibility attributed to juveniles and thus a diminished attribution of guilt or innocence in juvenile cases. Juveniles are charged in the same way as adults, but if found by the court to have committed some prohibited act, they are 'adjudged delinquent' rather than found guilty. The Juvenile Delinquents Act states that "where a child is adjudged to have committed a delinquency he shall be dealt with, not as an offender, but as one in a condition of delinquency and therefore requiring help and guidance and proper supervision."
There are also several caveats which apply to the comparability of Juvenile delinquency figures across years. Because juvenile delinquency encompasses, by law, not only offences under the Criminal Code and all other statutes but morality and other unspecified offences as well, this makes the figures vulnerable both to changes in the laws (especially provincial statutes and municipal by laws) and shifts in norms of behaviour and morality.
From 1927 to 1949 offences committed by juveniles were divided into major and minor offences which corresponded roughly to indictable and non-indictable offences for adults in the Criminal Code. Some offences, however, punishable on summary conviction if committed by an adult, were considered serious enough to be classified as major offences when committed by a juvenile; this division was somewhat arbitrary and was therefore eliminated in 1950.
There have been numerous changes in the structure of juvenile justice since its formal inception around the turn of the century, and these have resulted in changes over the years in the agencies which reported data on juvenile delinquency. Up to 1973, statistical returns were submitted directly to Statistics Canada by Juvenile Courts and by those magistrates and justices of the peace who heard children's cases where no juvenile court was established. In three provinces, however - Saskatchewan, Alberta, and British Columbia - court returns were collected by a provincial agency and forwarded to the Bureau. Since 1973, forms have been submitted directly by the courts in all provinces.
Although figures from adult courts in Quebec and Alberta have not been included in published national statistics since 1969, figures on juvenile cases in these two provinces have been included in Juvenile Delinquents for 1969. In that same report, figures for Manitoba were presented separately from those of the other provinces because of a new, different method used to tabulate statistics on juvenile delinquents in that province.
Source: for 1961 to 1969, Statistics Canada, Juvenile Delinquents, (Catalogue 85-202); for 1927 to 1960, Historical Statistics of Canada, first edition, Section Y: Justice, series Y119-140.
Figures include only cases formally heard by a court which resulted in a finding of delinquency. Not enumerated are cases heard informally and cases where the juvenile was not adjudged delinquent. Figures which were presented separately for major and minor offences in the original publications up to 1949 have been combined in these series (see General note to these series on juvenile delinquency). Figures for years prior to 1927 and subsequent to 1969 are not comparable with the figures presented here (see note for series Z270-281). Figures for 1969 do not include cases from Manitoba; figures for 1968 and 1969 are based on the provincial age limits, as compared with the standard upper limit of under 16 years used for all preceding years.
Source: for 1961 to 1969, Statistics Canada, Juvenile Delinquents, (Catalogue 85-202); for 1927 to 1960, Historical Statistics of Canada, first edition, Section Y: Justice, series Y141-146.
When a girl or a boy is charged with more than one offence at the same hearing (reportedly a rare practice), only the most serious offence was to be recorded for statistical purposes. This compilation procedure provided a duplicated count of juvenile persons.
In an Historical Appendix to the report for 1950, figures for 1926 through 1950, which had been compiled separately for major and minor offences, were revised and minor offences were redistributed among the categories established for major offences (see note for series Z261-269). This method of presentation was instituted in the 1950 report and continues. Figures prior to 1927 are not comparable (see note for series Z270-281) nor are figures for 1970 and later years (see General note to this sub-section).
Figures for 1968 and 1969 are based on the upper age limits in force in each province; for all earlier years, the upper age limit used was under 16 years. Figures for 1969 do not include cases from Manitoba, which adopted a different and incompatible statistical system for juvenile delinquents in that year.
Source: for 1961 to 1969, Statistics Canada, Juvenile Delinquents, (Catalogue 85-202); for 1927 to 1960, Historical Statistics of Canada, first edition, Section Y: Justice, series Y110-118.
From 1927 to 1949, figures on appearances before the court and results were compiled separately for major and for minor offences (see General note to this sub-section). In the annual reports for 1950 and later the two classes of offences are grouped together and in the Historical Appendix to the 1950 report the figures for the major and minor offences were also grouped together for the years 1926 through 1949.
Figures prior to 1927 are not comparable with those in these series (see note for series Z270-281). The comparability of figures for 1927 through 1949 with those for later years is affected by the fact that appearances in court for minor offences which resulted in dismissal were not recorded prior to 1950 but have been from 1950 onward.
There have been variations among courts in their policy concerning the definition of juvenile delinquent for statistical purposes. Some courts considered adjournment sine die equivalent to a suspended sentence and treated these cases as tentative dismissals and therefore did not report these cases as being delinquent, while other courts did. Further, there have been changes over the years in the number of courts espousing each policy.
Figures for 1969 do not include cases from Manitoba, and figures for 1968 and 1969 are based on provincial age limits in place of the upper age limit of under 16 years which had been used since the inception of national statistics on juvenile delinquency.
Convictions for major offences of juveniles under 16 years, Canada and the provinces, 1886 to 1926
Source: Historical Statistics of Canada, first edition, Section Y: Justice, series Y74-85.
Convictions of juveniles were tabulated together with convictions of adults until 1921 (see series Z66-78). From 1922 to 1926 they were compiled separately and offences which would have been indictable if committed by adults were called 'major offences' (see General note to series Z227-291). In 1927 the basic statistical unit became the 'appearance at court'. Therefore, figures in series Z270-281 are not comparable with those in series Z227-269 and Z283-291.
Source: Statistics Canada, Juvenile Delinquents, (Catalogue 85-202).
While figures based on cases have been provided in detail in the annual reports, Juvenile Delinquents, a simple, aggregate count of the number of delinquents has been given each year since 1927. Because of the change in 1953 from the duplicated count of juveniles, in use from 1927 to 1953, to an unduplicated count from 1953 to the present, figures from these two periods are not comparable. The upper age limit used in tabulating the series changed in 1968 from the standard, 'under 16 years' to the age limit in force in each province.
Source: for 1961 to 1969, Statistics Canada, Juvenile Delinquents, (Catalogue 85-202); for 1927 to 1960, Historical Statistics of Canada, first edition, Section Y: Justice, series Z147-155.
In the 1950 annual report, figures for 1926 to 1949, tabulated separately for minor and major offences, were revised and the two classes of offences were grouped together. Figures prior to 1927 are not comparable (see General note and note for series Z270-281). 'Indefinite detention', series Z284, refers to a short period of detention, from a few days to about a month, during which the child was under observation or awaiting a hearing. This practice of detaining children has declined, due partly to better community facilities and more extensive use of them. Under 'supervision of the court', series Z285, are listed those children who have been placed in foster homes by Children's Aid Societies and provincial or municipal welfare departments or who have been placed under the care of a probation officer.
Some figures in series Z283-291 are inter-related in that upward trends in some series are accompanied by downward trends in others.
Figures for 1969 do not include cases from Manitoba (see General note to this sub-section).
Census and estimated population aged 7-15 years by sex, Canada and the provinces, 1881 to 1975
Z305-328. Census and estimated population aged 7-15 years, by sex, Canada and the provinces, 1927 to 1975
Ontario, Manitoba, Prairie Provinces, British Columbia, Yukon and Northwest Territories
Source: for 1956 to 1975, Statistics Canada, Census of Canada for 1956, 1961, 1966, and 1971; Population Estimates for all other years; for 1881 to 1955, Historical Statistics of Canada, first edition, Section Y: Justice, series Y14-26.
Census figures are those for the years 1881 to 1921 inclusive and for 1931, 1941, 1951 and 1956. In the intercensal years, Statistics Canada prepares estimates of population by sex and age groups; these estimates are adjusted at the next census. Revised estimates have been used in all years where available (up to 1970).
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