Co-offending in Canada, 2011: highlights

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  • Co-offending, that is crimes involving two or more accused people, accounted for 11% of cleared incidents in Canada in 2011. Of the incidents in which an accused was identified, 8% were pair offences, involving 2 accused, and 3% were group crimes, involving 3 or more accused.
  • The prevalence of pair offending was highest in the Northwest Territories (10% of cleared incidents) and lowest in Quebec (6% of cleared incidents). Group crime was most prevalent in Ontario and Saskatchewan (3% of cleared incidents respectively) and lowest in Nunavut (1% of cleared incidents).
  • The prevalence of pair offending in selected jurisdictions in Canada decreased by 1.8% between 1995 and 2006 and has remained relatively stable since that time. The prevalence of group crime decreased by 0.5%.
  • Most co-offences that occurred in Canada in 2011 were pair crimes. In total, more than three-quarters (76%) of co-offences involved two offenders, while the remaining 24% involved 3 or more. Group crimes involving numerous offenders were relatively rare as the majority of group crimes involved just three people. Less than 2% of co-offences (and less than 0.2% of all cleared incidents) involved 6 or more accused persons.
  • Co-offending was more common among female accused (27% were co-offenders) than male accused (21%). However, most co-offending groups were made up exclusively of male accused (54%). This is due to the fact that the majority (77%) of people accused of an offence in 2011 were male.
  • Co-offending was more common among youth aged 12 to 17 (44%) than among adults (19%). However, the majority of co-offences (65%) were made up exclusively of adults. This is due to the fact that the majority (84%) of people accused of an offence in 2011 were adults.
  • Among accused of all ages, pair offending and group crime were more common in incidents involving drug trafficking, production, and importation/exportation, robbery, arson, and counterfeiting. Co-offending was less common among incidents of impaired driving, sexual violations against children, offences against the administration of justice, and level 1 sexual assaults.
  • In incidents exclusively involving youth, pair offending and group crime were more common in incidents involving breaking and entering, arson, robbery, possession of stolen property, and theft over $5,000 and theft of $5,000 or under.
  • Co-offences tended to be more serious in nature compared to lone offences. Co-offences were more likely to have involved a firearm or other weapon, and to have resulted in injury to the victim. Further, hate crimes were more likely than those incidents not motivated by hate to involve co-offenders.
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