Homicide in Canada, 2012: highlights

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  • Canadian police services reported 543 homicides in 2012, 55 fewer than the previous year. As a result, the homicide rate fell 10% in 2012 to 1.56 victims per 100,000 population, the lowest rate since 1966.
  • The largest drop in the number of homicides in 2012 was for victims between the ages of 18 to 24, down 44 from the previous year. As a result, the homicide rate for this age group, which has consistently had the highest rate for more than a decade, was comparable to the rate for those aged 25 to 34.
  • The greatest decreases in the number of homicides were recorded in Alberta (-24), British Columbia (-16) and Saskatchewan (-9). Quebec (+3), the Northwest Territories (+2) and Ontario (+1) were the only provinces and territory to report increases in the number of homicides in 2012 from the previous year.
  • As in previous years, homicide rates were generally highest in the western and northern parts of the country. For the eighth consecutive year, the homicide rate was highest in Nunavut (14.84 per 100,000 population). Among the provinces, Manitoba reported the highest homicide rate in 2012 at 4.10 per 100,000 population, followed by Saskatchewan (2.69).
  • Among census metropolitan areas, Thunder Bay reported the highest homicide rate in 2012 at 5.81 per 100,000 population, followed by Winnipeg (4.09), Regina (3.06) and Halifax (2.90). For the second year in a row, both Moncton and Kingston reported no homicides. There were also no homicides in Guelph, Brantford and St. John’s in 2012.
  • Despite an overall decrease in the number of homicides committed in 2012, the number of fatal shootings increased. In total, 172 victims were killed by a firearm in 2012, 14 more than the previous year. In contrast, the number of fatal stabbings decreased by 40 victims, down from 204 victims in 2011 to 164 victims in 2012.
  • Even though there was an increase in shootings in 2012, the rate of firearm-related homicides remained among the lowest in almost 50 years. As has been the case for the past 20 years, handguns continued to account for the majority (65%) of homicides involving firearms.
  • With 95 gang-related homicides in 2012, the rate remained stable for the third year in a row at 0.27 victims per 100,000 population. Saskatchewan reported the highest rate of gang-related homicide in 2012 at 0.74 per 100,000 population, nearly triple the national rate. The majority (75%) of gang-related homicides continued to involve a firearm in 2012.
  • Among solved homicides, most (84%) victims were killed by someone they knew, usually an acquaintance or a family member. The number of homicides committed by strangers decreased slightly from 2011 to 2012, resulting in the lowest rate of homicide committed by a stranger (0.19 per 100,000 population) in more than 40 years.
  • There were 82 intimate partner homicides in 2012, 7 fewer than the previous year. The rate of intimate partner homicide was 0.28 per 100,000 population in 2012, consistent with rates recorded over the previous five years. Rates of intimate partner homicide continued to be higher for females than males, regardless of the age group.
  • There were 34 youth (12 to 17 years) accused of homicide in 2012, 12 fewer than the previous year. As a result, the rate of youth accused of homicide decreased to 1.42 per 100,000 youth population, the lowest rate in over a decade.
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