Youth court statistics in Canada, 2011/2012: highlights

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  • Canadian youth courts (involving 12-to 17-year olds) completed just over 48,000 cases in 2011/2012, representing a 10% decline from the previous year and the third consecutive annual decline. The 2011/2012 decrease resulted in the lowest number of cases completed in youth courts since national data were first collected 20 years ago.
  • Recent declines in completed youth court cases occurred across the country. The largest decreases were in the territories, where drops ranged from -23% to -36% between 2010/2011 and 2011/2012. Among the provinces, British Columbia recorded the largest decrease in youth court cases (-16%), followed by New Brunswick (-14%) and Ontario (-12%).
  • Similar to previous years, ten types of cases accounted for 70% of completed youth court cases. The most common were cases involving theft (14%), common assault (8%), and break and enter (8%).
  • Virtually all types of completed youth court cases decreased between 2010/2011 and 2011/2012. Some of the largest declines were for cases involving theft (-17%), break and enter (-15%) and major assault (-15%). Cases involving the possession of drugs (+7%) as well as those for other drug crimes (+2%) were among the few types of cases to increase.
  • The majority (77%) of youth court cases completed in 2011/2012 involved male accused. In addition, most (61%) youth court cases involved those aged 16 or 17 years at the time of the offence.
  • In 2011/2012, nearly 6 in 10 (57%) completed youth court cases resulted in a finding of guilt. While similar to the previous year, longer-term data show that the proportion of cases resulting in a finding of guilt has decreased while the proportion of cases with a stayed, withdrawn, dismissed or discharged outcome has increased.
  • Probation continued to be the most common type of youth court sentence in 2011/2012, imposed in about 6 in 10 guilty cases. The median length of probation sentences was 1 year.
  • Custody sentences were imposed in 15% of 2011/2012 guilty youth court cases, down from 24% to 29% throughout the 1990s and early 2000s. The decrease in custody has been offset somewhat by sentences to deferred custody and supervision, imposed in about 4% to 5% of cases since being introduced as a sentencing option in 2003.
  • The median length of time taken to complete a youth court case fell to 108 days (or about 3½ months), the third consecutive annual decline. For the fifth year in a row, Manitoba recorded the longest median case time (140 days or 4½ months) among the provinces, nearly five times longer than the shortest median case time in Prince Edward Island (29 days).
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