Criminal victimization in Canada, 2009

by Samuel Perreault and Shannon Brennan

Victimization rates remain stable from 2004
Victimization rates higher in western Canada
Violent victimization
Non-violent victimization
Reporting victimizations to police
Impacts of victimization
Perceptions of personal safety
Detailed data tables
References
Methodology
Notes

Information on crime in Canada is collected by Statistics Canada via two different though complementary surveys: the General Social Survey (GSS) on Victimization and the Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) survey. The GSS is conducted every five years on a sample of Canadians and collects information on their personal accounts of criminal victimization for eight crime types: sexual assault, robbery, physical assault, break and enter, motor vehicle/parts theft, theft of household property, vandalism and theft of personal property (see Textbox 1 for complete definitions). The UCR survey is carried out annually and collects data on all criminal incidents known to, and substantiated by, Canadian police services.

This article reports the first results from the 2009 victimization cycle of the General Social Survey (GSS). Information is presented on the nature and extent of criminal victimization in the ten provinces. Data from the Northwest Territories, Yukon and Nunavut was collected as part of a separate survey and will be published at a later date. In this report, the characteristics associated with criminal victimizations are examined, including socio-demographic risk factors, consequences of victimization and victims' decisions on whether to report incidents to police. Where applicable, data from previous GSS cycles on victimization (1999 and 2004) are included to provide comparisons and identify trends in self-reported victimization.

Victimization rates remain stable from 2004 1

According to the 2009 GSS, about 7.4 million Canadians, or just over one-quarter of the population aged 15 years and older, reported being a victim of a criminal incident in the preceding 12 months. This proportion was essentially unchanged from that reported in 2004.2

The majority of criminal incidents reported to the GSS in 2009 were non-violent. More specifically, theft of personal property (34%), theft of household property (13%), vandalism (11%), break-ins (7%), and theft of motor vehicles/parts (5%), accounted for 70% of incidents recorded by the GSS. Violent incidents, namely physical assault (19%), sexual assault (8%), and robbery (4%), accounted for the remaining self-reported incidents.

The GSS data can be used to calculate rates of self-reported violent victimization (including sexual assault, robbery, and physical assault), household victimization (including break and enter, theft of motor vehicle/parts, theft of household property and vandalism) and theft of personal property.

According to the 2009 GSS, the rates of violent and household victimization were similar to those reported in 2004.3 However, the rate of theft of personal property increased 16%, up from 93 incidents per 1,000 people in 2004 to 108 incidents in 2009 (Table 1).

Text box 1
Defining criminal victimization in Canada
Type of victimization Description
Violent victimization
Sexual assault Forced sexual activity, an attempt at forced sexual activity, or unwanted sexual touching, grabbing, kissing, or fondling.
Robbery Theft or attempted theft in which the perpetrator had a weapon or there was violence or the threat of violence against the victim.
Physical assault An attack (victim hit, slapped, grabbed, knocked down, or beaten), a face-to-face threat of physical harm, or an incident with a weapon present.
Non-violent victimization
Household victimization
Break and enter Illegal entry or attempted entry into a residence or other building on the victim's property.
Motor vehicle/parts theft Theft or attempted theft of a car, truck, van, motorcycle, moped or other vehicle or part of a motor vehicle.
Theft of household property Theft or attempted theft of household property such as liquor, bicycles, electronic equipment, tools or appliances.
Vandalism Wilful damage of personal or household property.
Theft of personal property Theft or attempted theft of personal property such as money, credit cards, clothing, jewellery, a purse or a wallet (unlike robbery, the perpetrator does not confront the victim).

Victimization rates higher in western Canada

For both violent and household crime, the highest rates of victimization in 2009 were in western Canada, led by Manitoba and Saskatchewan (Table 2, Chart 1, Chart 2). The only exception to this trend was in New Brunswick where the rate of violent victimization more closely resembled those in the west. Police-reported crime data for 2009 indicate a similar east-to-west pattern (Dauvergne and Turner 2010).

Chart 1
Self-reported violent victimization incidents, by province, 2009

Description

Chart 1 Rates of self-reported violent victimization highest in the west, 2009

Note: Violent victimization includes sexual assault, robbery, and physical assault. Caution should be used in making comparisons between provinces as not all differences between provincial estimates are statistically significant. Excludes data from the Northwest Territories, Yukon and Nunavut which will be published at a later date.
Source: Statistics Canada, General Social Survey, 2009.

Due to small numbers, GSS data for 2009 was only publishable for a sub-set of Canada's census metropolitan areas (CMA's).4 Among these, respondents in Regina reported the highest rates of violent victimization, at close to double the rates in other CMAs. Regina also reported one of the highest rates of household victimization. In contrast, Toronto, Canada's largest census metropolitan area, recorded the lowest rate of violent victimization and was among the lowest for household victimization. Rates of victimization were similar among all other available CMAs (Table 3).

Chart 2
Self-reported household victimization incidents, by province, 2009

Description

Chart 2 Self-reported household victimization incidents highest in the west, 2009

Note: Household victimization includes break and enter, motor vehicle theft/parts, theft of household property and vandalism. Caution should be used in making comparisons between provinces as not all differences between provincial estimates are statistically significant. Excludes data from the Northwest Territories, Yukon and Nunavut which will be published at a later date.
Source: Statistics Canada, General Social Survey, 2009.

Text box 2
Comparing self-reported victimization data with police-reported crime data

While both the GSS and the UCR survey collect information on crime in Canada, there are several differences between these surveys including survey type, scope, coverage, and source of information.

The GSS is a sample survey, which in 2009, collected information from approximately 19,500 respondents, aged 15 years and older, living in the ten provinces. The survey is designed to ensure that these data represent the non-institutionalized Canadian population aged 15 years or over.

One of the major benefits of the GSS is that it captures information on criminal incidents that do not come to the attention of police. Research has shown that for various reasons victims may choose not to report their victimizations to the police. For example, according to the 2009 GSS 69% of violent victimizations, 62% of household victimizations and 71% of personal property thefts were not reported to police. Despite the benefits of self-reported victimization surveys they do have limitations. Of note is that the GSS relies upon respondents to recall and report events accurately (see Methodology for further information on the GSS).

In comparison, the UCR is an annual census of all Criminal Code incidents that come to the attention of the police. One of the main advantages of the UCR survey is that it allows changes in police-reported crime to be tracked over time. There are many factors that can influence police-reported crime statistics, including the willingness of the public to report crimes to the police as well as changes in legislation, policies and enforcement practices.

Violent victimization

The GSS measures violent victimization by gathering information on three violent crimes – sexual assault, robbery, and physical assault. In addition to measuring the prevalence of violent victimization in Canada, the 2009 GSS provides information on the socio-demographic characteristics of victims of violence, as well as information about offenders.

Violent victimization remains stable

In 2009, close to 1.6 million Canadians, or 6% of the population aged 15 years and over in the ten provinces reported having been the victim of a sexual assault, a robbery or a physical assault in the preceding 12 months, a proportion similar to that in 2004. Physical assault was the most common form of violence, followed by sexual assault and robbery.

It was not uncommon for victims of violence to report having experienced multiple violent incidents. Of those who were victimized, most reported being victimized once (74%), 16% reported that they had been violently victimized twice within the previous 12 months, and 10% said that they had been victimized 3 or more times.

Violent victimization highest among youth and young adults

Many of the socio-demographic factors collected by the GSS were found to be associated with violent victimization.5 Some of these factors relate to specific victim demographics such as sex and age, while others relate to the victim's social characteristics such as main activity, and participation in evening activities (Table 4, Table 5).

Overall, younger Canadians were more likely than older Canadians to indicate that they had been violently victimized within the previous 12 month period. More specifically, people between the ages of 15 and 24 years were almost 15 times more likely than those aged 65 and older to report being a victim of a violent victimization (Table 4).

Violent victimization related to marital status and sexual orientation

Rates of self-reported violent victimization were found to be highest among single people and lowest among people who were married. People in common-law relationships also had higher rates of violent victimization relative to people in marriages. These differences may be partly attributed to age, as common-law unions are more prevalent among younger people, as is being single (Statistics Canada 2006).

Other victim characteristics that were associated with increased rates of violent victimization in 2009 included: self-identifying as homosexual, having some form of activity limitation and participating in evening activities outside the home. Additionally, rates of self-reported violent victimization among people who identified as an Aboriginal person were double those of non-Aboriginal people.6

Rates of violent victimization were lower for people who identified as a visible minority than for non-visible minorities. Rates of victimization were lower for immigrants than for non-immigrants.

Violent victimization most often committed by males and young adults

The GSS asks respondents who report having been victimized to specify information about the offender.7 These results indicate that males accounted for close to 9 in 10 offenders of all violent incidents.

In addition, the data show that a disproportionate number of violent crimes were committed by young adults. While 26% of violent crimes were committed by those aged 18 to 24, this age group comprised 10% of the Canadian population. This is consistent with police-reported data, which also show males and young adults to be over-represented as accused persons (Dauvergne and Turner 2010).

Sexual assault rates higher among females

Overall, Canadians reported similar rates of sexual victimization in 2009, 2004 and 1999 (Table 6).8 As was previously the case, the majority of sexual assaults reported to the 2009 GSS were the least serious form of sexual assault. For example, incidents of sexual touching, unwanted grabbing, kissing, or fondling accounted for 81% of sexual assaults reported to the GSS. In contrast, sexual attacks, which involve the use of threats or physical violence, accounted for about one in five sexual assault incidents. These findings reflect those shown in police-reported data where, in 2009, the least serious types of sexual assault (level 1) comprised the majority of sexual offences (Dauvergne and Turner 2010).

Rates of sexual assault are higher among females than among males. In 2009, the self-reported sexual assault victimization rate for females was twice the rate for males (Table 4). Of the sexual assaults reported by respondents to the GSS, 70% involved a female victim. In comparison, females were victims in 38% of physical assaults.

Three-quarters of all violent incidents reported in 2009 involved only one perpetrator. This was particularly true for self-reported sexual assaults, as 92% of these incidents involved someone acting alone (Table 7). This remained unchanged from the previous cycle of the GSS.

Self-reported incidents of sexual assault were more likely than robberies and physical assaults to involve an offender who was known to the victim. In over half (51%) of sexual assault incidents, the perpetrator was a friend, acquaintance, or neighbour of the victim, compared to 29E% of robberies and 31% of physical assaults. Robberies and physical assaults, on the other hand, were most often committed by a stranger.

More than half (54%) of sexual assaults reported by Canadians through the GSS took place in a commercial or institutional establishment, such as a restaurant or a bar, compared to 39% of physical assaults.

Robbery rates increase over the past decade

Self–reported victimization data indicate that rates of robbery (including attempted robbery) have remained fairly stable between 2004 and 20099, though they have increased by 44% since 1999 (Table 6). This change is primarily due to an increase in the overall number of females reporting robbery. Females were more likely to report being the victim of a robbery in 2009 than they were ten years earlier, resulting in a rate similar to that for males.

Though the GSS data indicate a rise in the rate of robbery over the 10-year period, police-reported data indicate a downward trend. Some of this discrepancy may be explained by differences in how each survey measures this offence. For example, the GSS only captures information on robberies committed against an individual, whereas police-reported data counts all robberies reported to police, including those that target businesses. According to police-reported data, more than 30% of all robberies in 2009 were committed against businesses (Dauvergne 2010).

While self-reported rates of robbery have increased since 1999, the 2009 GSS indicates that the seriousness of robbery incidents has not. One measure that can be used to assess the seriousness of a robbery incident is the presence of a weapon. In 2009, as in 2004 and 1999, just under half of robbery victims reported that a weapon was present or used during the incident (Table 7). Police-reported data show that the number of robberies with weapons, including firearm-related robberies has declined (Dauvergne and Turner 2010).

Physical assault often associated with drug and alcohol consumption

Data from the 2009 GSS indicate that rates of self-reported physical assault have remained stable over the past decade (Table 6).10 In 2009, close to two-thirds of all violent incidents involved a victim who had been physically assaulted in some manner (i.e. reported being hit, slapped, grabbed, beaten, or threatened face-to-face with physical harm). The majority of assaults (78%) resulted in no injury to the victim.

Similar to previous GSS victimization cycles, results from the 2009 GSS show that alcohol consumption by victims was associated with elevated rates of overall violent victimization. In particular, self-reported rates of physical assault were almost three times higher for people who had consumed 5 or more alcoholic beverages in one sitting in the past month than they were for those who drank less or not at all. Moreover, people who used drugs11 everyday were almost 8 times more likely to report being physically assaulted than those who had never used drugs (Table 5).

In addition, many victims reported that the offender's use of drugs and alcohol also played a role in their victimization. In over half (54%) of self-reported physical assaults, the victim thought that the incident was related to the offender's use of alcohol or drugs.

Non-violent victimization

In addition to gathering information on people's experiences with violent crime, the GSS also measures non-violent victimization, including household victimization and theft of personal property. The distinction between these types of offences is based on the target of the criminal event. For household victimization (including break and enter, motor vehicle/parts theft, theft of household property and vandalism) the target of victimization is a household, while for theft of personal property, it is an individual who is victimized.

Rates of household victimization remain stable

The overall rate of self-reported household victimization has remained stable since 2004 (Table 1).12 Of the household crimes reported by victims, theft of household property (35%) and vandalism (31%) were the most common. Break and enters (20%) and theft of motor vehicles (14%) comprised the remaining incidents.

Break-ins highest for renters

The 2009 GSS indicates that break-ins increased by 21% from 2004, although the rate was similar to that reported in 1999 (Table 9). This finding differs from police-reported data that show break-ins to be steadily declining since peaking in the early 1990's (Dauvergne and Turner 2010).

In 2009, Canadian households that rented their home (for example, single-detached house, apartment, or garden home) were more likely to self-report a break-in than Canadian households who owned their home (60 versus 42 incidents per 1,000 households). For all other household crimes, namely motor vehicle theft, theft of household property and vandalism, owners and renters experienced comparable rates of victimization (Table 8).

Overall, Canadians who had resided in their homes for a shorter period of time were more likely to report being a victim of a household crime than those who had lived in their homes for longer periods. For example, households whose residents had lived in their home for less than six months were more than twice as likely as those who had been living in their home for at least ten years to report a break-in. The same trend was found for theft of household property; however the difference between the household groups was less.

Motor vehicle thefts more common in larger households

Self-reported motor vehicle theft was the only type of household crime to decrease in 2009. Theft or attempted theft of cars, trucks, vans, motorcycles, mopeds or other vehicles or their parts, declined by 23% between 2004 and 2009, after rising between 1999 and 2004 (Table 9).

Consistent with findings from previous cycles, larger households were more likely than smaller households to experience a motor vehicle theft in 2009. For example, households of three or more people were more than twice as likely as a household of one to report being the victim of a motor vehicle theft (Table 8). This trend was also evident for thefts of household property and vandalism. The increased risk of victimization among larger households may be partly due to the fact that larger households may own multiple vehicles and, as such, have more opportunity to be victimized.

Household theft lowest among those living in apartments

In 2009, Canadian households self-reported close to 1.1 million incidents of theft of household property. These incidents include the theft, or attempted theft, of items such as liquor, bicycles, electronic equipment, tools or appliances. Overall, the rate of household property theft remained stable between 2004 and 2009,13 after rising between 1999 and 2004 (Table 9).

Living in a high-rise apartment building (five or more storeys) appears to have a protective effect against household crimes. Households in high-rise apartment buildings had a lower rate of victimization compared to those in houses. This pattern was particularly evident for household property theft. Regardless of their size, households in apartment buildings were significantly less likely than those in single-detached houses to report an incident of household theft. More specifically, the rate of household theft among Canadians living in single-detached homes was more than double the rate reported by Canadian households living in apartments of 5 storeys or more (86 versus 36E incidents per 1,000 household) (Table 8).

Lower rates of victimization in apartment buildings may be partly explained by fewer opportunities. For example, there are likely to be fewer household belongings left outside that can be stolen or vandalized. It may also be possible that households in apartments may not consider the building's common areas as belonging to their household and thus may not report incidents that take place there.

Vandalism highest for households with largest annual income

In 2009, vandalism accounted for close to one-third of all household victimizations reported to the GSS. Overall, the rate of vandalism for Canadian households remained stable between 2004 and 2009,14 after increasing between 1999 and 2004 (Table 9).

Similar to previous GSS cycles, results from 2009 suggest that rates of vandalism increase with household income. More specifically, the rate of self-reported vandalism for households with an annual income of $100,000 or more was about one and a half times higher than households whose annual income was under $20,000. This trend was true for for all four household offences (Table 8). The higher a household's income, the more attractive its property and belongings may be to potential perpetrators.

Theft of personal property accounts for one-third of victimizations

Theft of personal property, such as money, clothing, or jewellery, is considered to be a non-violent crime, because unlike robbery, the perpetrator does not confront the victim. Overall, theft of personal property represented over one-third of criminal incidents reported to the survey.

In general, the factors found to be associated with a greater risk of violent victimization (e.g. being young, being single, and participating in many evening activities), were also found to be associated with an increased risk of theft of personal property (Table 4, Table 5). Similar to other forms of non-violent victimization, Canadians with the highest household incomes ($100,000 or more) were more at risk of personal property theft than were Canadians with lower annual household incomes (Table 4).

Reporting victimizations to police

Break-ins and motor vehicle theft most often reported to police

In each cycle of the GSS, victims are asked whether or not the incident came to the attention of the police. Overall, nearly one-third (31%) of incidents were reported to the police in 2009, down slightly from 2004 (34%) (Table 10). Rates of reporting to the police were highest for incidents of household victimization (36%), followed by incidents of violent victimization (29%) and thefts of personal property (28%).

For both violent and non-violent incidents, rates of reporting to police tend to differ depending on the type of crime (Table 10, Chart 3). Among violent crimes, robberies (including attempted robberies) were most likely to be reported to police (43%), followed by physical assaults (34%). The majority of sexual assaults were not reported to the police (88%) (Table 10). Among household crimes, break-ins (54%) were most often reported followed by motor vehicle/parts theft (50%). Less than one quarter (23%) of household property thefts were reported to the police (Table 10).

Chart 3
Self-reported victimization incidents reported to the police, 2009

Description

Chart 3 Incidents of break and enter more likely to be reported to police, 2009

Note: Excludes all incidents of spousal sexual and physical assault. Excludes data from the Northwest Territories, Yukon and Nunavut which will be published at a later date. Data for sexual assault not shown as too small to produce reliable estimates.
Source: Statistics Canada, General Social Survey, 2009.

There are many other factors that also influence whether criminal incidents are reported to police. Among violent crimes, older victims were more likely than younger victims to report the incident. Close to half (46%) of violent incidents involving victims 55 years or older were brought to the attention of the police, compared to 20% of violent incidents involving victims aged 15 to 24 years.

Violent incidents committed by multiple offenders were also more likely to come to the attention of the police than incidents committed by just one offender. In 2009, half (49%) of all violent incidents were reported to police compared to 20% of those committed by one offender.

Finally, rates of reporting to police varied according to the location of the incident. Half (51%) of violent crimes that occurred in the victim's home or the surrounding area were reported to police, while the remaining half were not. In contrast just 20% of incidents that took place in a business or public institution were reported to police, with the remaining 8 in 10 going unreported.

For household crimes, the greater the value of the stolen or damaged property, the more likely the crime was reported to the police. For close to 7 in 10 household incidents where the value of the stolen or damaged property exceeded $1,000 the incident was reported to the police. In comparison, a much smaller proportion (15%) of incidents was reported to police when the stolen or damaged property was valued at less than $100.

"Sense of duty" most often cited reason for reporting to the police

There are many reasons why a victim of crime may or may not choose to report an incident to the police. A sense of duty was the most common reason cited by victims who did report (86%). Many victims also reported the incident to the police because they wanted to arrest and punish the offender (69%).

Though victims of violent crime and victims of household crime often stated the same reasons for reporting to the police, some reasons were more specific to the type of crime. For example, victims of violent crime were more likely than victims of household crime to report due to a desire to receive protection, while victims of household crime were more likely to report in order to obtain compensation or to claim insurance.

Of those Canadians who had reported the incident, most (63%) were satisfied with the action taken by police. This held true regardless of whether the incident was a violent or household crime.

Victims of violent and household crime also had similar reasons for not reporting the incident to the police. The most common reasons were believing that the incident was not important enough (68%), followed by thinking there was nothing the police could do to help (59%). Other reasons included having dealt with the situation in another way (42%) and feeling that the incident was a personal matter (36%) (Chart 4).

Chart 4
Reasons for not reporting victimization incidents to police, 2009

Description

Chart 4 Incident seen as Not important enough most often cited reason for not reporting to police, 2009

Note: Excludes all incidents of spousal sexual and physical assault. Excludes data from the Northwest Territories, Yukon and Nunavut which will be published at a later date.
Source: Statistics Canada, General Social Survey, 2009.

Impacts of victimization

Anger most common reaction among victims

Experiencing a criminal incident can affect victims in many ways, from emotional and financial distress to having their daily activities disrupted. Similar to previous cycles, the 2009 GSS found that consequences of criminal incidents were common among victims of both violent and household crime.

Even though household crime primarily targets property rather than people, victims of these crimes were just as likely as victims of violent crimes to be affected emotionally. Overall, 8 in 10 victims reported that the incident had affected them emotionally. The most common reactions were anger, feeling upset/confused/frustrated, annoyed, fear, and becoming more cautious/aware (Chart 5).

Chart 5
Emotional consequences of self-reported victimization incidents, 2009

Description

Chart 5 Anger most common emotional reaction to victimization in 2009

Note: Excludes all incidents of spousal sexual and physical assault. Excludes data from the Northwest Territories, Yukon and Nunavut which will be published at a later date.
Source: Statistics Canada, General Social Survey, 2009.

Many victims of violent crime also reported disruptions to their day. Overall, more than 1 in 4 (28%) victims of violent crime said that they found it difficult or even impossible to carry out their daily activities. In general, when a victim of a violent crime found it difficult or impossible to carry out his or her everyday activities, the average time required for the victim to return to their regular routine was 11 days.

Victims of household crime, particularly motor vehicle thefts, often reported financial consequences. For nearly one-third of victims of household crime, the value of damaged or stolen property exceeded $500. For motor vehicle thefts (excluding incidents of theft of parts and attempted theft), the value of the damaged or stolen property exceeded this amount in 91% of incidents.

Perceptions of personal safety

Canadians generally satisfied with their personal safety

As in 2004, the majority of Canadians (93%) reported feeling satisfied with their personal safety in 2009. More specifically, 48% of Canadians said that they were very satisfied with their personal safety while 45% indicated that they were somewhat satisfied (Table 11).

When asked about specific situations, Canadians indicated that they felt as safe as they had in 2004. For example, 90% of Canadians reported that they felt safe when walking alone in their neighborhood at night. Further, in 2009, 58% of Canadians who used public transportation reported that they were not at all worried when waiting for or using these services after dark. A similar pattern was found for perceptions of personal safety when home alone in the evening, with over 8 in 10 Canadians stating that they had no concern about their safety while alone in their homes (Table 11).

In addition to questions about feelings of personal safety, the GSS also asked Canadians about their perception of crime in their communities. Almost two-thirds of respondents (62%) said they believed that crime rates in their community had not changed over the past five years. Over 6 in 10 Canadians believed that crime was lower in their neighborhood than in other neighborhoods in Canada.

Detailed data tables

Table 1 Self-reported victimization, 1999, 2004 and 2009

Table 2 Self-reported victimization, by type of offence and province, 2009

Table 3 Self-reported victimization, by census metropolitan area, 2009

Table 4 Self-reported violent victimization and theft of personal property by selected demographic characteristics, 2009

Table 5 Self-reported violent victimization and theft of personal property by selected social characteristics, 2009

Table 6 Self-reported violent victimization, by type of offence, 1999, 2004 and 2009

Table 7 Self-reported violent victimization, by type of offence and offender characteristics, 2009

Table 8 Self-reported household victimization, by selected social, demographic and economic characteristics, 2009

Table 9 Self-reported household victimization, by type of offence, 1999, 2004 and 2009

Table 10 Self-reported victimizations reported to police, 1999, 2004 and 2009

Table 11 Self-reported feelings of safety from crime, 2004 and 2009

References

Dauvergne, Mia. 2010. "Police-reported robbery in Canada, 2008". Juristat. Statistics Canada, Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics. Catalogue no. 85-002-X, Vol. 30, no.1.
/pub/85-002-x/2010001/article/11115-eng.htm (accessed on September 10, 2010).

Dauvergne, Mia and John Turner. 2010. "Police-reported crime statistics in Canada, 2009". Juristat. Statistics Canada, Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics. Catalogue no. 85-002-X, Vol. 30, no.2.
/pub/85-002-x/2010002/article/11292-eng.htm (accessed on September 10, 2010).

Statistics Canada, 2006. Census of Population, Statistics Canada Catalogue no. 97-552-XCB2006007.

Methodology

In 2009, Statistics Canada conducted the victimization cycle of the General Social Survey for the fifth time. Previous cycles were conducted in 1988, 1993, 1999 and 2004. The objectives of the survey are to provide estimates of Canadians' personal experiences of eight offence types, examine risk factors associated with victimization, examine reporting rates to police, measure the nature and extent of spousal violence, measure fear of crime and examine public perceptions of crime and the criminal justice system.

Sampling

The target population included all persons 15 years and older in the 10 Canadian provinces, excluding full-time residents of institutions. The survey was also conducted in the three Canadian territories using a different sampling design and its results will be available in a separate report to be released in 2011. Households were selected by a telephone sampling method called Random Digit Dialling (RDD). Households without telephones or with only cellular phone service were excluded. These two groups combined represented approximately 9% of the target population (Residential Telephone Service Survey, (RTSS), December 2008). For the 2004 GSS (Cycle 18), this proportion was 4%. The coverage, therefore, for 2009 (Cycle 23) and 2004 (Cycle 18), was 91% and 96%, respectively.

Once a household was contacted an individual 15 years or older was randomly selected to respond to the survey. The sample in 2009 was approximately 19,500 households, a slightly smaller sample than in 2004 (24,000).

Data collection

Data collection took place from February to November 2009 inclusively. The sample was evenly distributed over the 10 months to represent seasonal variation in the information. A standard questionnaire was administered by phone using computer-assisted telephone interviewing (CATI). A typical interview lasted 45 minutes.

Response rates

Of the 31,510 households that were selected for the GSS Cycle 23 sample, 19,422 usable responses were obtained. This represents a response rate of 61.6%, a decrease from 2004 (74.5%). Types of non-response included respondents who refused to participate, could not be reached, or could not speak English or French. Respondents in the sample were weighted so that their responses represent the non-institutionalized Canadian population aged 15 years or over. Each person who responded to the 2009 GSS represented roughly 1,400 people in the Canadian population aged 15 years and over.

Data limitations

As with any household survey, there are some data limitations. The results are based on a sample and are therefore subject to sampling error. Somewhat different results might have been obtained if the entire population had been surveyed. This Juristat uses the coefficient of variation (CV) as a measure of the sampling error. Any estimate that has a high CV (over 33.3%) has not been published because the estimate is too unreliable. In these cases, the symbol 'F' is used in place of an estimate in the figures and data tables. An estimate that has a CV between 16.6 and 33.3 should be used with caution and the symbol 'E' is referenced with the estimate. Where descriptive statistics and cross-tabular analysis were used, statistically significant differences were determined using 95% confidence intervals.

Using the 2009 GSS sample design and sample size, an estimate of a given proportion of the total population, expressed as a percentage is expected to be within 0.95 percentage points of the true proportion 19 times out of 20.


Notes

  1. All data have been tested for statistical significance. Unless otherwise noted, differences between estimates are statistically significant at p<0.05. See the Methodology section for a discussion of sampling error and statistical significance.
  2. The analysis of violent victimization data includes incidents of spousal sexual or physical assault whereas the analysis of incident and offender characteristics excludes these types of incidents.
  3. Differences in rates between 2004 and 2009 were not statistically significant.
  4. A census metropolitan area (CMA) consists of one or more neighbouring municipalities situated around a central core. A CMA must have a total population of at least 100,000 of which 50,000 or more live in the central core. To be included in the CMA, other adjacent municipalities must have a high degree of integration with the central core, as measured by commuting flows derived from census data.
  5. Social, demographic and economic characteristics for both violent and household victimization incidents were examined individually. The results do not account for possible interactions between these characteristics.
  6. The question which was used to identify the Aboriginal population in the 2009 victimization survey is different than that used in 2004 and 1999. The 2009 results for the Aboriginal population should not, therefore, be directly compared with those from previous victimization surveys.
    Households in the ten provinces were selected for the GSS survey by a sampling method called Random Digit Dialling (RDD) and respondents were interviewed by telephone. It should be noted that the proportion of households with a landline telephone may be relatively low on some Indian reserves and settlements.
  7. In 2009, the data pertaining to offenders, injuries or the presence of weapons are based on 69% of violent incidents.
  8. Differences in rates between 1999, 2004 and 2009 were not statistically significant.
  9. Differences in rates between 2004 and 2009 were not statistically significant.
  10. Differences in rates between 2004 and 2009 were not statistically significant.
  11. Excludes medication prescribed by a doctor and over the counter medication.
  12. Differences in rates between 2004 and 2009 were not statistically significant.
  13. Differences in rates between 2004 and 2009 were not statistically significant.
  14. Differences in rates between 2004 and 2009 were not statistically significant.