Police-reported crime statistics in Canada, 2015

by Mary Allen

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Highlights

  • In 2015, police-reported crime in Canada, as measured by both the crime rate and the Crime Severity Index (CSI), increased for the first time since 2003. The CSI measures the volume and severity of police-reported crime in Canada, and has a base index value of 100 for 2006. The CSI increased 5% from 66.7 in 2014 to 69.7 in 2015. The 2015 CSI was 1% higher than the CSI reported in 2013 (68.8), but 31% lower than a decade earlier in 2005.
  • The change in the CSI in 2015 was driven primarily by increases in fraud, breaking and entering, robbery, and homicide. The upward movement of the national CSI was fuelled by a notable growth in crime reported by Alberta.
  • The police-reported crime rate, which measures the volume of police-reported crime, also increased in 2015, rising 3% from the previous year to 5,198 incidents per 100,000 population. This was about the same rate as reported in 2013 (5,195 per 100,000 population) and 29% lower than a decade earlier in 2005.
  • There were almost 1.9 million police-reported Criminal Code incidents (excluding traffic) reported by police in 2015, approximately 70,000 more incidents than in 2014.
  • Among the violent violations to increase in rate were homicide (+15%), attempted murder (+22%), major assaults (+3%), sexual assaults (+3%), robbery (+5%) and Criminal Code violations specific to the use of, discharge, and pointing of firearms (+22%) (referred to as violent firearms offences).
  • The overall volume and severity of violent crime, as measured by the violent CSI, increased 6% between 2014 and 2015 to 74.5. This increase was largely the result of increases in robbery, homicide, attempted murder, and violent firearms offences.
  • Police-reported crime rates for all types of property crimes increased in 2015, including fraud (+15%), possession of stolen property (+13%), theft over $5,000 (excluding motor vehicles) (+8%), identity fraud (+9%), motor vehicle theft (+6%) and breaking and entering (+4%).
  • The overall volume and severity of non-violent crime, as measured by the non-violent CSI rose to 67.8 in 2015, marking a 4% increase from the previous year. The increase was largely the result of more reported incidents of fraud and breaking and entering.
  • Eight of the 13 provinces and territories reported increases in their CSI in 2015, with the largest increases reported by Alberta (+18%), New Brunswick (+12%), the Northwest Territories (+10%) and Saskatchewan (+10%). In Alberta, New Brunswick and Saskatchewan, these were the only notable increases since 2003. The exceptions to the national increase in CSI were Prince Edward Island (-10%), Nova Scotia (-7%), Nunavut (-4%), Quebec (-3%) and Yukon (-2%).
  • Twenty of the 33 census metropolitan areas (CMAs) in Canada reported increases in their CSI values in 2015. With a CSI of 78.3, Calgary had the largest increase in CSI of all CMAs (+29%), followed by Moncton (+20%), Victoria (+16%), Edmonton (+16%), and Abbotsford-Mission (+14%). The CMAs with the largest declines in CSI were Thunder Bay (-11%), Québec (-6%) and Sherbrooke (-6%).
  • In 2015, police reported 604 homicides, 83 more than the previous year. This resulted in a 15% increase in the homicide rate, which moved from 1.47 homicides to 1.68 homicides per 100,000 population. This was the highest homicide rate reported since 2011, but still below the average for the previous decade. The national increase was primarily due to increases in the number of homicides in Alberta (+27 homicides), Saskatchewan (+19) and Ontario (+18). In addition, there was a 22% increase in the rate of attempted murder.
  • Drug offences involving cannabis continued to decline in 2015. In total, the overall rate of police-reported offences involving the possession, trafficking, production and distribution of cannabis decreased 15% between 2014 and 2015. Decreases were also reported in the rate of cocaine offences (-7%). In contrast, offences involving the possession, trafficking, production or distribution of methamphetamines grew 25%. Growth was also reported in the rate of offences involving heroin (+18%), ecstasy (+7%) and “other drugs”, such as prescription drugs (+6%).
  • The rate of youth accused of crime by police (including youth charged and not charged) continued to decline in 2015. Between 2014 and 2015, the Youth Crime Severity Index (YCSI) decreased by 1% and the youth crime rate dipped 2%, primarily due to decreases in youth accused of non-violent crime. As in previous years, fewer than half of youth accused were charged (45%). The rate of youth charged with a criminal offence in 2015 declined 1%, while the rate of adults charged increased 2%.

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Since 1962, Statistics Canada has collected information on all criminal incidents substantiated and reported by Canadian police services through its annual Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Survey.Note 1 In addition to the UCR Survey, Statistics Canada also collects information on victims’ experiences with crime through the General Social Survey on Victimization (GSS), conducted every five years. Unlike the UCR Survey, the GSS collects data on criminal incidents whether or not they have been brought to the attention of the police. These complementary surveys are the main sources of data on crime in Canada.

This Juristat article presents findings from the 2015 UCR Survey.Note 2 In order to make comparisons across police services and over time, crime counts within the article are based on the most serious violation in a criminal incident (see “Key terminology and definitions”). This article explores trends in the volume and severity of police-reported crime at the national, provincial/territorial and census metropolitan area levels.Note 3 In addition, the report presents more detailed information on changes in violent and non-violent criminal offences as well as impaired driving and drug offences. Finally, the article looks at trends in youth accused of crime.Note 4

Police-reported crime in Canada increased in volume and severity for the first time since 2003

The Crime Severity Index (CSI) measures both the volume and seriousness of police-reported crime in Canada and has a base index value of 100 for 2006 (see Text box 1). Between 2014 and 2015, the CSI increased 5% from 66.7 in 2014 to 69.7 in 2015. The 2015 CSI was slightly higher (1%) than the rate reported in 2013 (68.8), but 31% lower than a decade earlier (Table 1a, Chart 1).

Chart 1

Description for Chart 1
Data table for Chart 1
Table summary
This table displays the results of Data table for Chart 1. The information is grouped by Year (appearing as row headers), Crime Severity Index and Violent Crime Severity Index, calculated using index units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Year Crime Severity Index Violent Crime Severity Index
index
1998 118.8 97.8
1999 111.2 99.4
2000 106.7 97.8
2001 105.3 97.2
2002 104.1 96.2
2003 106.8 97.6
2004 104.1 96.0
2005 101.3 98.5
2006 100.0 100.0
2007 95.3 97.8
2008 90.6 95.1
2009 87.8 94.3
2010 82.9 89.2
2011 77.6 85.7
2012 75.4 81.9
2013 68.8 73.9
2014 66.7 70.5
2015 69.7 74.5

The change in the national CSI in 2015 was driven primarily by increases in fraud, breaking and entering, robbery, and homicide. About half of the increase in the national CSI in 2015 can be explained by a large increase in police-reported crime in Alberta, where the provincial CSI rose 18% (Table 2a).

The police-reported crime rate, which measures the volume of crime per 100,000 population, also increased in 2015, the first increase since 2003. The police-reported crime rate was up 3% from the previous year, resulting in a rate of 5,198 incidents per 100,000 population (Table 1b). The rate in 2015 was almost the same as the rate reported in 2013 (5,195 per 100,000 population) and 29% lower than a decade earlier (Chart 2). While the crime rate grew in 2015, it has generally been on a downward trend since the early 1990’s, with the only increases reported in 2003 and 2015 (Chart 3).

Chart 2

Description for Chart 2
Data table for Chart 2
Table summary
This table displays the results of Data table for Chart 2. The information is grouped by Year (appearing as row headers), Crime Severity Index and Crime rate , calculated using index and rate per 100,000 population units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Year Crime Severity Index Crime rate
index rate per 100,000 population
1998 118.8 8,092
1999 111.2 7,694
2000 106.7 7,607
2001 105.3 7,587
2002 104.1 7,512
2003 106.8 7,770
2004 104.1 7,600
2005 101.3 7,325
2006 100.0 7,245
2007 95.3 6,908
2008 90.6 6,631
2009 87.8 6,461
2010 82.9 6,159
2011 77.6 5,779
2012 75.4 5,632
2013 68.8 5,195
2014 66.7 5,046
2015 69.7 5,198

Chart 3

Description for Chart 3
Data table for Chart 3
Table summary
This table displays the results of Data table for Chart 3. The information is grouped by Year (appearing as row headers), Total, Violent crimes, Property crimes and Other crimes, calculated using rate per 100,000 population units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Year Total Violent crimes Property crimes Other crimes
rate per 100,000 population
1962 2,771 221 1,891 659
1963 3,022 249 2,047 726
1964 3,245 284 2,146 815
1965 3,199 299 2,091 809
1966 3,511 347 2,258 907
1967 3,850 381 2,484 985
1968 4,336 423 2,826 1,087
1969 4,737 453 3,120 1,164
1970 5,212 481 3,515 1,217
1971 5,311 492 3,649 1,170
1972 5,355 497 3,634 1,224
1973 5,773 524 3,704 1,546
1974 6,388 553 4,151 1,684
1975 6,852 585 4,498 1,769
1976 6,984 584 4,533 1,867
1977 6,971 572 4,466 1,933
1978 7,154 580 4,579 1,995
1979 7,666 610 4,903 2,153
1980 8,343 636 5,444 2,263
1981 8,736 654 5,759 2,322
1982 8,773 671 5,840 2,262
1983 8,470 679 5,608 2,182
1984 8,387 701 5,501 2,185
1985 8,413 735 5,451 2,227
1986 8,727 785 5,550 2,392
1987 8,957 829 5,553 2,575
1988 8,919 868 5,439 2,613
1989 8,892 911 5,289 2,692
1990 9,485 973 5,612 2,900
1991 10,342 1,059 6,160 3,122
1992 10,040 1,084 5,904 3,052
1993 9,538 1,082 5,575 2,881
1994 9,125 1,047 5,257 2,821
1995 9,008 1,009 5,292 2,707
1996 8,932 1,002 5,274 2,656
1997 8,475 993 4,880 2,603
1998 8,093 995 4,569 2,529
1999 7,695 971 4,276 2,449
2000 7,610 996 4,081 2,534
2001 7,592 995 4,004 2,593
2002 7,516 980 3,976 2,560
2003 7,773 978 4,125 2,670
2004 7,601 957 3,976 2,668
2005 7,326 962 3,744 2,620
2006 7,246 968 3,605 2,673
2007 6,908 952 3,335 2,621
2008 6,632 938 3,096 2,598
2009 6,462 926 3,005 2,531
2010 6,160 907 2,802 2,451
2011 5,780 869 2,586 2,324
2012 5,633 842 2,521 2,270
2013 5,196 767 2,344 2,085
2014 5,047 734 2,321 1,992
2015 5,199 749 2,429 2,021

Canadian police services reported almost 1.9 million Criminal Code incidents (excluding traffic) in 2015, approximately 70,000 more incidents than in 2014. In addition to these incidents, there were about 126,000 Criminal Code traffic offences, 96,000 Controlled Drugs and Substances Act offences, and 25,000 other federal offences (such as the Youth Criminal Justice Act) recorded by police in 2015. In total, there were just over 2.1 million police-reported Criminal Code and federal statute incidents in 2015, about 58,000 more than the year before.

Although the CSI and the crime rate are separate measures, with the CSI accounting not only for volume but also changes in the relative seriousness of police-reported crime (see Text box 1), both measures show similar trends in police-reported crime in Canada since 1998, the earliest year for which the CSI was calculated (Chart 2).

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Text box 1
Measuring police-reported crime

In Canada, there are two complementary ways to measure police-reported crime: the traditional crime rate and the Crime Severity Index (CSI). While both measures take into account the volume of police-reported crime, the CSI also accounts for the seriousness of crime. Both the traditional crime rate and the CSI measure crime based on the most serious violation in the criminal incident (see “Survey description” for more details). The most serious violation is determined by criteria in the following order of priority: violations against a person take precedence over violations not against a person; the greatest maximum penalty prescribed by law; violations causing death take precedence over other violations with the same maximum penalty; or, if the above rules do not break a tie, the police service uses discretion to determine which is the most serious violation in the incident.Note 5

Crime rate

The traditional crime rate has been used to measure police-reported crime in Canada since 1962, and is generally expressed as a rate per 100,000 population. The crime rate is calculated by summing all Criminal Code incidents reported by the police and dividing by the population. The crime rate excludes Criminal Code traffic violations, as well as other federal statute violations such as drug offences.

To calculate the traditional police-reported crime rate, all offences are counted equally, regardless of their seriousness. For example, one incident of homicide is counted as equivalent to one incident of theft. As such, one limitation of the traditional crime rate is that it can easily fluctuate as a result of variations in high-volume, less serious offences, such as theft of $5,000 or under or mischief. In other words, a large decline in frequent, but less serious violations may cause the police-reported crime rate to decrease even when the number of more serious but lesser volume incidents, such as homicides or robberies, increases.

In addition to the overall crime rate, rates are calculated for violent crime, property crime and other Criminal Code offences. Further, the rates of youth who have either been charged by police or dealt with through the use of extrajudicial measures are available for all crime categories.

Crime Severity Index

The Crime Severity Index (CSI) was developed to address the limitation of the police-reported crime rate being driven by high-volume, relatively less serious offences. The CSI not only takes into account the volume of crime, but also the seriousness of crime.

In order to calculate the police-reported CSI, each violation is assigned a weight. CSI weights are based on the violation’s incarceration rate, as well as the average length of prison sentence handed down by criminal courts.Note 6 The more serious the average sentence, the higher the weight assigned to the offence, meaning that the more serious offences have a greater impact on the index. Unlike the traditional crime rate, all offences, including Criminal Code traffic violations and other federal statute violations such as drug offences, are included in the CSI.

To calculate the CSI, the weighted offences are summed and then divided by the population. Similar to other indexes (e.g., Consumer Price Index), to allow for ease of comparison, the CSI is then standardized to a base year of “100” (for the CSI, the base year is 2006). In other words, all CSI values are relative to the Canada-level CSI for 2006. CSI values are available back to 1998.

In addition to the overall CSI, both a violent Crime Severity Index and a non-violent Crime Severity Index have been created, which like the overall CSI are available back to 1998. The violent CSI is comprised of all police-reported violent violations, and the non-violent CSI is comprised of all police-reported property violations, other Criminal Code violations, Criminal Code traffic violations, and other federal statute violations. All types of CSI measures are also available for youth who have been accused of a crime (charged and not charged).

For more information on the CSI, see the video, "Moving to a new city: a detailed look at the Crime Severity Index, a new way of measuring crime in Canada."

For more information on the Crime Severity Index, see Measuring Crime in Canada: Introducing the Crime Severity Index and Improvements to the Uniform Crime Reporting Survey (Wallace et al. 2009), The Methodology of the Police-Reported Crime Severity Index (Babyak et al. 2009), and Updating the Police-Reported Crime Severity Index Weights: Refinements to the Methodology (Babyak et al. 2013).

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Increase in police-reported crime recorded in eight of thirteen provinces and territories

Eight of the thirteen provinces and territories reported an increase in the volume and severity of police-reported crime between 2014 and 2015. The provinces and territories with the largest increases in their CSI were Alberta (+18%), New Brunswick (+12%), the Northwest Territories (+10%) and Saskatchewan (+10%) (Table 2a). Among Alberta, New Brunswick and Saskatchewan, these were the only notable annual increases (over 3%) since 2003. In addition, Manitoba (+8%), Newfoundland and Labrador (+5%), British Columbia (+4%), and Ontario (+2%) also reported increases in the CSI in 2015. The exceptions to the national increase in CSI were Prince Edward Island (-10%), Nova Scotia (-7%), Quebec (-3%) and Yukon (-2%). Due to fewer reported incidents of homicide and attempted murder, Nunavut also reported a decline in CSI (-4%).Note 7

The violations with the greatest impact on changes in the CSI differed by province and territory (see Text box 2). Increases in breaking and entering, theft of $5,000 or under, and motor vehicle theft were the major contributing factors in Alberta, which recorded the largest increase in CSI in 2015. Higher numbers of incidents of breaking and entering in 2015 also influenced the increase in CSI in New Brunswick, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and the Northwest Territories, but other violations also played a role. In other provinces, violations which had an impact on the increase in the CSI included theft of $5,000 or under, robbery, fraud and homicide. Homicide, which is weighted heavily in the CSI due to its severity, also influenced the declines in CSI recorded in Prince Edward Island, Yukon, and Nunavut.

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Text box 2
Violations contributing to the change in the Crime Severity Index (CSI) between 2014 and 2015, by province and territory

Text box 2 table
Violations contributing to the change in the Crime Severity Index (CSI) between 2014 and 2015, by province and territory
Table summary
This table displays the results of Violations contributing to the change in the Crime Severity Index (CSI) between 2014 and 2015 Percent change in
CSI from 2014 to 2015 and Violations driving the change in CSI (appearing as column headers).
  Percent change in
CSI from 2014 to 2015
Violations driving the change in CSI
Canada +5 Fraud, Breaking and entering, Robbery, Homicide
Newfoundland and Labrador +5 Sexual assault level 1, Robbery, Violent firearms offences
Prince Edward Island -10 Theft of $5,000 or under, Homicide
Nova Scotia -7 Breaking and entering, Theft of $5,000 or under
New Brunswick +12 Breaking and entering, Fraud
Quebec -3 Breaking and entering
Ontario +2 Fraud
Manitoba +8 Breaking and entering, Mischief, Fraud
Saskatchewan +10 Breaking and entering, Homicide, Fraud
Alberta +18 Breaking and entering, Theft of $5,000 or under, Motor vehicle theft
British Columbia +4 Fraud, Theft of $5,000 or under, Robbery
Yukon -2 Homicide1
Northwest Territories +10 Homicide, Breaking and entering, Assault level 3
Nunavut -4 Homicide2

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Similar to previous years, CSIs and crime rates were highest in the Territories, followed by the Western provinces (Table 2b). In all three territories, a large part of the difference between the territorial and national CSI can be explained by relatively high numbers of incidents of mischief, which accounts for 37% of crime in the Territories (compared to 15% nationally), as well as breaking and entering.

The Western provinces all reported relatively high CSIs and crime rates compared to the national CSI in 2015, with Saskatchewan continuing to record both the highest CSI (135.8) and crime rate (11,178 incidents per 100,000 population) among the provinces. The high CSIs reported in the Western provinces (compared to the national CSI) can be explained in part by the relatively high number of incidents of breaking and entering. In Saskatchewan and Manitoba, as in the Territories, mischief was also a contributing factor to the high CSIs. Moreover, Saskatchewan’s high CSI was also influenced by a high number of offences against the administration of justice (such as failure to comply with the conditions of a sentence, breach of probation or failure to appear). Prince Edward Island (49.7), Ontario (50.6), and Quebec (55.7) reported the lowest CSIs in 2015.

Despite some fluctuations over the years and the most recent increase, all provinces reported lower CSIs in 2015 than in 2005 (Charts 4 to 6). In the Territories, the CSIs were lower than in 2005, but their decline has not been as substantial as in most of the provinces (Chart 7).

Chart 4

Description for Chart 4
Data table for Chart 4
Table summary
This table displays the results of Data table for Chart 4. The information is grouped by Year (appearing as row headers), Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Canada, calculated using Crime Severity Index units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Year Newfoundland and Labrador Prince Edward Island Nova Scotia New Brunswick Canada
Crime Severity Index
1998 76.4 73.3 105.4 90.0 118.8
1999 69.2 79.0 104.6 90.0 111.2
2000 70.1 76.3 95.3 84.8 106.7
2001 69.1 75.4 92.5 83.4 105.3
2002 71.4 85.2 93.9 84.6 104.1
2003 74.4 91.0 101.4 87.8 106.8
2004 79.3 81.9 106.7 87.9 104.1
2005 78.5 76.8 102.1 79.5 101.3
2006 73.1 71.8 101.1 74.2 100.0
2007 75.3 64.1 91.9 70.8 95.3
2008 71.1 68.7 84.2 71.8 90.6
2009 71.5 66.4 84.0 70.7 87.8
2010 78.7 66.4 83.6 69.2 82.9
2011 71.8 67.2 79.5 66.2 77.6
2012 67.9 73.2 76.8 68.2 75.4
2013 68.4 64.7 69.9 60.3 68.8
2014 62.3 55.0 66.5 56.3 66.7
2015 65.6 49.7 61.9 63.0 69.7

Chart 5

Description for Chart 5
Data table for Chart 5
Table summary
This table displays the results of Data table for Chart 5. The information is grouped by Year (appearing as row headers), Quebec, Ontario, British Columbia and Canada, calculated using Crime Severity Index units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Year Quebec Ontario British Columbia Canada
Crime Severity Index
1998 112.7 100.7 166.9 118.8
1999 104.3 92.3 155.8 111.2
2000 101.8 89.0 144.7 106.7
2001 96.6 86.5 146.6 105.3
2002 93.5 84.5 148.1 104.1
2003 92.9 83.2 154.7 106.8
2004 90.3 78.2 153.4 104.1
2005 89.9 77.0 146.3 101.3
2006 91.0 78.6 139.8 100.0
2007 84.7 74.5 132.4 95.3
2008 83.0 70.9 121.8 90.6
2009 81.5 69.3 111.9 87.8
2010 76.0 65.6 104.1 82.9
2011 73.3 61.2 96.8 77.6
2012 70.5 59.0 95.0 75.4
2013 62.3 52.4 88.6 68.8
2014 57.2 49.7 91.5 66.7
2015 55.7 50.6 94.7 69.7

Chart 6

Description for Chart 6
Data table for Chart 6
Table summary
This table displays the results of Data table for Chart 6. The information is grouped by Year (appearing as row headers), Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and Canada, calculated using Crime Severity Index units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Year Manitoba Saskatchewan Alberta Canada
Crime Severity Index
1998 154.5 176.2 122.5 118.8
1999 152.6 167.3 118.8 111.2
2000 149.5 169.4 111.3 106.7
2001 152.5 176.4 114.8 105.3
2002 148.3 175.7 116.3 104.1
2003 161.3 199.5 124.8 106.8
2004 163.3 192.3 124.1 104.1
2005 156.7 181.3 121.9 101.3
2006 155.9 170.5 115.6 100.0
2007 150.8 164.7 114.4 95.3
2008 129.9 152.5 112.0 90.6
2009 137.7 149.5 105.6 87.8
2010 127.3 148.2 98.2 82.9
2011 116.0 143.6 87.5 77.6
2012 114.4 138.4 85.8 75.4
2013 100.6 125.8 84.7 68.8
2014 96.6 124.0 86.8 66.7
2015 104.3 135.8 102.3 69.7

Chart 7

Description for Chart 7
Data table for Chart 7
Table summary
This table displays the results of Data table for Chart 7. The information is grouped by Year (appearing as row headers), Yukon, Northwest Territories, Nunavut and Canada, calculated using Crime Severity Index units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Year Yukon Northwest Territories Nunavut Canada
Crime Severity Index
1998 226.2 267.5 Note ...: not applicable 118.8
1999 230.4 255.4 218.8 111.2
2000 267.7 251.9 250.3 106.7
2001 248.8 260.4 288.9 105.3
2002 263.9 297.2 318.5 104.1
2003 258.7 339.4 360.8 106.8
2004 245.4 353.3 372.1 104.1
2005 199.4 343.3 327.1 101.3
2006 180.4 316.0 279.9 100.0
2007 186.3 335.8 316.0 95.3
2008 182.8 342.9 326.5 90.6
2009 180.9 326.2 332.9 87.8
2010 171.0 348.1 343.1 82.9
2011 154.7 342.1 315.1 77.6
2012 156.2 338.1 317.7 75.4
2013 169.8 314.5 285.2 68.8
2014 188.0 289.5 282.8 66.7
2015 183.6 319.0 270.2 69.7

Twenty of the thirty-three census metropolitan areas recorded an increase in the volume and severity of police-reported crime

Over half of Canada’s census metropolitan areas (CMAs) reported increases in their CSI values in 2015 (Table 3).Note 8 With a CSI of 78.3, Calgary recorded the largest increase in CSI (+29%), driven by increased incidents of breaking and entering, theft of $5,000 or under, and motor vehicle theft. Large increases in the CSI were also recorded in Moncton (+20%), Victoria (+16%), Edmonton (+16%), and Abbotsford-Mission (+14%). Increased levels of breaking and entering as well as theft of $5,000 or under were also major factors in the increased CSIs in these cities. The increase in CSIs in Calgary and Edmonton together had a notable impact on the provincial increase in the CSI for Alberta, which in turn influenced the Canada level. The CMAs with the largest declines in CSI were Thunder Bay (-11%), Québec (-6%) and Sherbrooke (-6%). Offences contributing to these declines varied across the CMAs.

Despite increased CSI’s for many CMAs in 2015, almost all CMAs reported lower CSIs than in 2005 (Table 3).Note 9Note 10 Toronto, Montréal and Vancouver, which together account for over one third of Canada’s population, reported ten-year decreases of 37%, 43%, and 35%, respectively. The largest declines between 2005 and 2015 were reported by Halifax (-51%), Regina (-48%), and Winnipeg (-47%). The only CMA to report an increase compared to 2005 was Saguenay (+1%), which recorded a relatively low CSI in 2005 compared to the year before and after. The CSI in Saguenay declined 8% from 2006 to 2015 and 12% between 2004 and 2015. Over the ten year period, Saguenay has consistently reported CSIs below the national average.

As has been the case since 2010, the two CMAs with the highest CSIs in 2015 were Saskatoon (112.5) and Regina (107.6) (Chart 8). Relatively high CSIs were recorded in Edmonton (101.6), Kelowna (98.0), Abbotsford-Mission (96.6), and Vancouver (96.2). These six CMAs also had the highest police-reported crime rates in 2015 (Table 4). The CMAs with the lowest CSIs continued to be Québec (41.8), Barrie (43.3), Toronto (45.7), Ottawa (46.5), Guelph (48.4), and Sherbrooke (49.2). Since 2009, Québec and Toronto have had the lowest police-reported crime rates among CMAs.

Chart 8

Description for Chart 8
Data table for Chart 8
Table summary
This table displays the results of Data table for Chart 8. The information is grouped by Census metropolitan area (appearing as row headers), Crime Severity Index (appearing as column headers).
Census metropolitan areaNote 1Note 2Note 3 Crime Severity Index
Victoria 72.6
Vancouver 96.2
Abbotsford–Mission 96.6
Kelowna 98.0
Edmonton 101.6
Calgary 78.3
Saskatoon 112.5
Regina 107.6
Winnipeg 87.2
Thunder Bay 80.1
Greater Sudbury 59.4
Barrie 43.3
Windsor 62.0
London 65.4
Guelph 48.4
Brantford 77.1
Kitchener–Cambridge–Waterloo 59.8
St. Catharines–Niagara 52.2
Hamilton 50.5
Toronto 45.7
Peterborough 55.0
Kingston 56.5
OttawaNote 5 46.5
GatineauNote 4 53.6
Montréal 59.1
Trois-Rivières 56.7
Sherbrooke 49.2
Québec 41.8
Saguenay 53.8
Saint John 56.3
Moncton 78.5
Halifax 62.8
St. John’s 74.1
Canada 69.7

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Text box 3
Factors influencing police-reported crime

There are many factors that influence police-reported crime statistics. First, an incident must come to the attention of police. The decision by an individual to report criminal incidents to police has a considerable impact on the number of crimes ultimately recorded by police. The 2014 General Social Survey on Victimization, which provides the most recent information on Canadians’ crime reporting behaviour for selected offences, indicated that about one-third (31%) of crimes are reported to police (see Text box 5 for more detail on the reasons for not reporting).

Second, differences between individual police services, such as available resources or departmental priorities, policies and procedures can also have an effect on police-reported crime. For instance, as a crime prevention measure, some police services have implemented initiatives to focus attention on prolific or repeat offenders within the community. Moreover, certain crimes such as impaired driving, prostitution, and drug offences can be notably affected by a police service’s enforcement practices, with some police services devoting more resources to these specific types of crime. Some police services may also make greater or lesser use of municipal bylaws or provincial statutes to respond to minor offences such as mischief and disturbing the peace.

Third, and more broadly, social and economic factors can influence the volume of crime at a national, regional, municipal or neighbourhood level. In particular, crime rates can be affected by changes in age demographics (Stevens et al. 2013; Carrington 2001), economic conditions (Andresen 2012; Phillips and Land 2012; Pottie-Bunge et al. 2005), neighbourhood characteristics (Livingston et al. 2014; Charron 2011; Savoie 2008), the emergence of new technologies (Wall 2010; Nuth 2008) or by Canadians’ attitudes toward crime and risky behaviour (Ouimet 2004).

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Violent crime

Police-reported violent crime higher in 2015

In 2015, violent crimes continued to account for about one-fifth (20%) of all police-reported Criminal Code offences (excluding traffic). There were almost 381,000 police-reported violent incidents in 2015, over 10,000 more than the previous year. In 2015, the violent crime rate in Canada was 1,062 violent incidents per 100,000 population, which was 2% higher than in 2014, but 24% lower than a decade earlier (Table 1b). In this report, violent crime generally refers to those violations in the Criminal Code identified as crimes against the person, as opposed to property crimes and other Criminal Code violations such as offences against the administration of justice.Note 11

Rates of almost all forms of violent crime increased between 2014 and 2015. The most notable increases were for homicide (+15%), attempted murder (+22%) and violent firearms offences (specific to the use of, discharge, and pointing of firearms) (+22%) (Table 5). In addition, rates of extortion (+11%), and sexual assault with a weapon or bodily harm (level 2) (+13%) were also notably higher than the previous year. Increases in some of the most common violent offences, assault levels 1 and 2, as well as robbery, had the greatest impact on the increase in the violent crime rate. The violent offences for which rates decreased in 2015 were other violations causing death (which includes criminal negligence) (-19%), aggravated sexual assault (level 3) (-11%), sexual violations against childrenNote 12 (-1%), abduction (-1%) and “other assaults” (-1%).

The overall volume and severity of violent crime, as measured by the violent CSI, increased 6% between 2014 and 2015 to 74.5. The violent CSI in 2015 was 1% higher than in 2013 (73.9) and 24% lower than in 2005. This increase in the violent CSI between 2014 and 2015 was driven largely by increases in robbery, homicide, attempted murder and violent firearms offences (which includes discharging a firearm with intent, using a firearm in the commission of an offence, and pointing a firearm) (see Text box 4).

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Text box 4
Violations contributing to the change in the violent Crime Severity Index (CSI) between 2014 and 2015, by province and territory

Text box 4 table
Violations contributing to the change in the violent Crime Severity Index (CSI) between 2014 and 2015, by province and territory
Table summary
This table displays the results of Violations contributing to the change in the violent Crime Severity Index (CSI) between 2014 and 2015 Percent change in
violent CSI from 2014 to 2015 and Violations driving the change in violent CSI (appearing as column headers).
  Percent change in
violent CSI from 2014 to 2015
Violations driving the change in violent CSI
Canada +6 Robbery, Homicide, Attempted murder, Violent firearms offences
Newfoundland and Labrador +15 Sexual assault level 1, Robbery, Violent firearms offences
Prince Edward Island -14 Homicide, Robbery
Nova Scotia +1 Homicide1
New Brunswick +4 Attempted murder, Violent firearms offences2
Quebec +4 Attempted murder, Homicide
Ontario +3 Violent firearms offences, Attempted murder
Manitoba +6 Robbery, Forcible confinement or kidnapping, Assault level 2
Saskatchewan +9 Homicide
Alberta +12 Robbery, Homicide
British Columbia +7 Robbery, Attempted murder, Violent firearms offences
Yukon -13 Homicide
Northwest Territories +28 Homicide, Assault level 3, Sexual assault level 1, Assault level 1
Nunavut -15 Homicide, Attempted murder

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The increase in Canada’s violent CSI in 2015 was primarily the result of increases in Alberta (+12%), British Columbia (+7%), and Ontario (+3%) (Table 2a). In addition, there were notable increases in the violent CSI in Newfoundland and Labrador (+15%), Saskatchewan (+9%), and Manitoba (+6%). Prince Edward Island continued to have the lowest violent CSI of all provinces and territories, and was the only province to record a decline in the violent CSI (-14%), primarily as a result of a drop in the number of homicides (from 3 to 1).

The violent CSI continued to be highest in the Territories in 2015.Note 13 The violent CSI in the Northwest Territories increased 28% between 2014 and 2015, as a result of increased numbers of homicides (+2 homicides), assaults levels 1 and 3, and sexual assault level 1. In contrast, both Yukon and Nunavut saw declines in their violent CSI. These were due to fewer incidents of homicide (-2 homicides) in Yukon, and fewer incidents of homicide (-2) and attempted murder in Nunavut.

As with the CSI in general, the changes in the violent CSI varied across CMAs, with increases recorded in 24 out of 33 CMAs.Note 14 The CMAs of Toronto, Montréal and Vancouver all reported increases in the violent CSI (+2%, +5%, and +8%, respectively). The largest increases in the violent CSI were recorded in Kingston (+22%), London (+21%), and St. John’s (+19%). Winnipeg, which recorded the highest violent CSI (122.1) saw a 5% increase in 2015. Sherbrooke and Thunder Bay recorded the largest decreases (-14% each). However, Thunder Bay still recorded the second highest violent CSI among the CMA’s in 2015 (119.2). The third highest violent CSI was recorded by Saskatoon (113.5) which also had a decline (-7%) between 2014 and 2015 (Chart 9).

Chart 9

Description for Chart 9
Data table for Chart 9
Table summary
This table displays the results of Data table for Chart 9. The information is grouped by Census metropolitan area (appearing as row headers), Violent Crime Severity Index (appearing as column headers).
Census metropolitan areaNote 1Note 2Note 3 Violent Crime Severity Index
Victoria 69.1
Vancouver 85.0
Abbotsford–Mission 90.4
Kelowna 69.8
Edmonton 103.9
Calgary 72.1
Saskatoon 113.5
Regina 107.9
Winnipeg 122.1
Thunder Bay 119.2
Greater Sudbury 63.9
Barrie 43.8
Windsor 67.7
London 56.7
Guelph 47.3
Brantford 70.0
Kitchener–Cambridge–Waterloo 54.5
St. Catharines–Niagara 42.2
Hamilton 54.6
Toronto 64.6
Peterborough 56.9
Kingston 54.5
OttawaNote 5 53.7
GatineauNote 4 55.9
Montréal 76.1
Trois-Rivières 59.9
Sherbrooke 44.1
Québec 43.1
Saguenay 61.3
Saint John 65.7
Moncton 75.6
Halifax 79.0
St. John’s 79.6
Canada 74.5

Homicide and attempted murder rates both increased in 2015

In 2015, homicides continued to represent fewer than 1% of all violent crimes. In total, police reported 604 homicides in Canada in 2015, 83 more than the previous year. This resulted in a 15% increase in the homicide rate from 1.47 to 1.68 per 100,000 population (Table 5, Chart 10). This was the highest homicide rate reported since 2011, but still below the average for the previous decade (1.72 per 100,000 population). The increase was primarily due to higher numbers of homicides reported in Alberta (+27 homicides), Saskatchewan (+19) and Ontario (+18).

Chart 10

Description for Chart 10
Data table for Chart 10
Table summary
This table displays the results of Data table for Chart 10. The information is grouped by Year (appearing as row headers), Homicide and Attempted murder, calculated using rate per 100,000 population units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Year Homicide Attempted murder
rate per 100,000 population
1984 2.60 3.60
1985 2.72 3.34
1986 2.18 3.37
1987 2.43 3.46
1988 2.15 3.12
1989 2.41 3.04
1990 2.38 3.27
1991 2.69 3.72
1992 2.58 3.72
1993 2.19 3.43
1994 2.06 3.18
1995 2.01 3.20
1996 2.14 2.97
1997 1.96 2.89
1998 1.85 2.47
1999 1.77 2.26
2000 1.78 2.50
2001 1.78 2.34
2002 1.86 2.16
2003 1.74 2.23
2004 1.95 2.10
2005 2.06 2.55
2006 1.86 2.57
2007 1.81 2.41
2008 1.84 2.17
2009 1.81 2.38
2010 1.63 1.96
2011 1.74 1.94
2012 1.56 1.91
2013 1.46 1.81
2014 1.47 1.77
2015 1.68 2.16

As has generally been the case, homicide rates were highest in the Western provinces and the Territories (Table 6, Chart 11). Saskatchewan (3.79 homicides per 100,000 population) recorded the highest homicide rate among the provinces. The two other highest homicide rates among the provinces were recorded in Manitoba (3.63 per 100,000 population) and in Alberta (3.17 per 100,000 population). Saskatchewan and Alberta had notable increases in the number of homicides in 2015. Saskatchewan recorded 43 homicides in 2015, up from 24 in 2014 (+77% change in rate). Homicides in Alberta increased from 106 to 133 (+23% change in rate).

Chart 11

Description for Chart 11
Data table for Chart 11
Table summary
This table displays the results of Data table for Chart 11. The information is grouped by Province and territory (appearing as row headers), rate per 100,000 population (appearing as column headers).
Province and territory rate per 100,000 population
N.L. 0.57
P.E.I. 0.68
N.S. 1.27
N.B. 1.46
Que. 0.93
Ont. 1.26
Man. 3.63
Sask. 3.79
Alta. 3.17
B.C. 2.03
Y.T. 2.67
N.W.T. 11.34
Nvt. 5.42
Canada 1.68

While Nova Scotia recorded a large increase in their homicide rate (+100%) with 12 homicides reported in 2015, it should be noted that the large increase is due to the record low rate that was recorded in 2014 with 6 homicides that year. The lowest homicide rates in 2015 were reported in Newfoundland and Labrador (0.57 per 100,000 population), Quebec (0.93 per 100,000 population), and Prince Edward Island (0.68 per 100,000 population).

Because of their small populations, the rate of homicides per 100,000 population tend to be high in the Territories (in years when there are homicides reported). This was the case in 2015 with 5 homicides in the Northwest Territories (11.34 per 100,000 population), two homicides in Nunavut (5.42 per 100,000 population), and one homicide in Yukon (or 2.67 per 100,000 population).

With a total of 8 homicides in 2015, Regina recorded the highest homicide rate among the CMAs at 3.30 homicides per 100,000 population. Saskatoon (with 10 homicides), and Edmonton (with 39 homicides) had the next highest homicide rates (3.22 and 2.87 per 100,000 population, respectively) (Table 7). Brantford was the only CMA to record no homicides in 2015.

The attempted murder rate in Canada increased 22% between 2014 and 2015 to 2.16 per 100,000 population. In total, there were 774 attempted murders reported by police in 2015, 144 more than in 2014. The rate of attempted murder has remained consistently higher than the homicide rate since the 1980s, and these offences have often shown similar trends over time (Chart 10).

Small increase in most forms of physical assault in 2015

Physical assault continued to be the most prevalent form of police-reported violent crime in Canada in 2015, accounting for close to 6 in 10 (58%) violent offences reported by police. Police reported about 219,000 assaults in 2015, most of which (72%) were classified as common assaults (level 1). The rate of common assault had been gradually declining for more than 10 years before increasing slightly (+1%) in 2015. Other categories of assault include aggravated assault (level 3) (no significant change in rate), assault with a weapon or causing bodily harm (level 2) (+4%), assault against a peace officer (+2%), and other forms of assault (e.g., unlawfully causing bodily harm) (-1%) (Table 5). Rates of all types of assault were at or below the rates reported in 2013.

Saskatchewan and Manitoba continued to report the highest rate of major assault (levels 2 and 3) among the provinces (371 and 340 per 100,000 population, respectively). These rates were about double the rates in most other provinces. Despite the 3% increase in the national rate of major assault, some provinces and territories reported decreases between 2014 and 2015. Yukon reported the largest decline in the rate of major assault, down 14% from the previous year. There were also declines in the rate of major assault in all of the Atlantic provinces as well as in Nunavut (Table 6).

After seven years of decline, police-reported robbery rates were up in 2015

After a continuous downward trend over the previous seven years, the rate of robbery increased 5% from 2014 to a rate of 62 robberies per 100,000 population in 2015 (Table 5, Chart 12). Police reported approximately 22,000 robberies in 2015, over 1,000 more than the year before, but fewer than in 2013. The increase was primarily due to higher numbers of robberies reported in Alberta, and to a lesser extent in British Columbia and Manitoba. The highest rates of police-reported robbery in 2015 were in Manitoba (127 per 100,000 population), Saskatchewan (86 per 100,000 population), and Alberta (81 per 100,000 population), all higher than in the previous year. Unlike other forms of police-reported crime, robbery rates in the Territories have generally been below the national rate, a trend which continued in 2015.

Chart 12

Description for Chart 12
Data table for Chart 12
Table summary
This table displays the results of Data table for Chart 12. The information is grouped by Year (appearing as row headers), Robbery and Major assault, calculated using rate per 100,000 population units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Year Robbery Major assault
rate per 100,000 population
1984 91 114
1985 88 115
1986 89 122
1987 85 123
1988 90 126
1989 94 129
1990 101 140
1991 119 149
1992 117 145
1993 104 146
1994 100 140
1995 104 132
1996 107 130
1997 99 131
1998 109 132
1999 107 132
2000 100 141
2001 99 148
2002 96 148
2003 101 152
2004 97 155
2005 101 166
2006 106 174
2007 104 177
2008 97 176
2009 97 170
2010 90 163
2011 87 157
2012 80 153
2013 66 140
2014 59 136
2015 62 141

The most substantial increases in robbery rates among the provinces were reported in Alberta (+23%), and Newfoundland and Labrador (+17%). In addition, the rate of robbery in the Northwest Territories increased 30% (from 20 to 26 incidents). Despite the increase in the national robbery rate (+5%), three provinces and two territories reported year-over-year declines in 2015 (Table 6). Prince Edward Island (-43%) had the largest decline in the rate of robbery among the provinces, falling to its lowest rate (11 per 100,000 population) since 1998, the earliest year for which comparable data is available.Note 15 In addition, Quebec (-1%), Ontario (-1%), Yukon (-24%, from 26 to 20 incidents) and Nunavut (-2%) also reported decreases in robbery.Note 16

As with other police-reported crimes, changes in rates of robbery varied considerably by CMA (Table 7). Notably large increases in robbery rates were reported in Thunder Bay (+42%), Kingston (+31%), and Saint John (+34%). The three largest CMAs, Toronto (-6%), Montréal (+1%), and Vancouver (+4%), which accounted for 48% of all robberies reported by police in 2015, had smaller changes. The highest rates of robbery in 2015 were reported in Winnipeg (178 per 100,000 population), Thunder Bay (149 per 100,000 population), and Saskatoon (131 per 100,000 population). In contrast, Saguenay and Québec, having reported the largest decreases in robbery in 2015 (-30% and -28%, respectively), had the lowest rates among the CMAs (19 per 100,000 and 15 per 100,000, respectively).

Police-reported sexual assaults increased in 2015

Sexual assaults, like physical assaults, are classified by the Criminal Code into three separate categories depending on the severity of the incident. More specifically, level 1 sexual assault criminalizes assault of a sexual nature that violates the sexual integrity of a person. Sexual assault with a weapon or causing bodily harm (level 2) criminalizes sexual assault that involves a weapon, bodily harm or threats to cause bodily harm to a person. Lastly, aggravated sexual assault (level 3) criminalizes sexual assault which wounds, maims, disfigures or endangers the life of another person.

In 2015, there were almost 21,500 police-reported sexual assaults, the majority (98%) of which were classified as level 1 sexual assault. Between 2014 and 2015, the rate of sexual assault level 1 increased 3% to 58 per 100,000 population. The rates of sexual assault level 2 also increased (+13%) with a total of 377 incidents reported in 2015, or a rate of 1 per 100,000 population (about the same level as reported in 2013). In contrast, the rate of the most serious sexual assaults (level 3) declined 11% in 2015 with 104 incidents (12 fewer than in 2014) (Table 5).

Police-reported sexual assaults (all levels combined) increased in most provinces and territories between 2014 and 2015, with the largest increases reported in Prince Edward Island (+14 incidents or a 23% increase in rate), and Newfoundland and Labrador (+62 incidents or a 21% increase in rate) (Table 6). The Northwest Territories, Yukon and Quebec also had notable increases in their rates (+14%, +13% and +9% respectively). In contrast, Nunavut (-12%) and Manitoba (-6%) reported declines in rates of sexual assault, but they remained among the jurisdictions with the highest rates.

It is important to note that the number of sexual assaults reported by police is likely an underestimate of the true extent of sexual assault in Canada, as these types of offences often go unreported to police. For instance, self-reported data from the General Social Survey on Victimization showed that only 5% of sexual assaults experienced by Canadians aged 15 years and older in 2014 were brought to the attention of police (Perreault 2015) (see Text box 5).

Some types of police-reported sexual violations against children declined in 2015

While children or youth can be victims of sexual assaults (levels 1, 2 and 3), there are also a number of sexual violations within the Criminal Code that, by definition, apply only to victims under the age of 18. These specific sexual violations are categorized within the UCR Survey as “sexual violations against children”.Note 17

The rate of police-reported sexual violations against children declined slightly in 2015 (-1%) for the first time since 2010, when full data for these offences became available.Note 18 While the overall number of violations remained stable, there was a shift in the types of violations reported. There were 153 fewer police-reported incidents of luring a child via a computer (including the agreement or arrangement to commit a sexual offence against a child), and 28 fewer incidents of invitation to sexual touching. These were offset by an increase between 2014 and 2015 in the number of incidents of sexual interference (+144 incidents), sexual exploitation (+19 incidents) and making sexually explicit material available to a child (+16 incidents).

It is important to note that, for the violations included in “sexual violations against children”, differences in police-reported statistics between geographic areas or across time may be influenced by levels of reporting to police, as well as by single incidents that include several victims. In addition, certain police services dedicate special units to investigate these types of crime, which can also impact differences by geographic areas or changes over time. Similar to sexual assaults in general, the number of sexual violations against children is also expected to be an underestimate due to compounding factors that are likely to impact reporting, such as reliance on an adult to bring the incident to the attention of police (Kuoppamäki et al. 2011; United Nations 2006).

In addition to sexual violations against children, for which information on the victim is available, the UCR Survey also collects data on accessing, possessing, making, printing or distributing child pornography.Note 19Note 20 In 2015, the number and rate of child pornography incidents continued to rise, up from approximately 3,900 incidents in 2014 to about 4,300 incidents in 2015. As a result, the rate increased by 10%, to 12 incidents per 100,000 population in 2015. Part of this increase, can be attributed to a proactive project initiated by the British Columbia Integrated Child Exploitation Unit which recorded Internet Protocol (IP) addresses that were in possession of, and possibly sharing child pornography. As the initiative focused on Victoria in 2015, notable increases in these offences were reported by this jurisdiction.

Introduction of new violations related to the commodification of sexual activity

In December 2013, the Supreme Court of Canada found the laws surrounding prostitution to be unconstitutional. As a result, new legislation with respect to the commodification of sexual activity was introduced in 2014, and came into effect in December of that year. One of the objectives of the new legislation was “protecting prostitutes, considered to be victims of sexual exploitation” (Casavante and Valiquet 2014). It targets “the exploitation that is inherent in prostitution and the risks of violence posed to those who engage in it” (Criminal Code, Chapter 25, Preamble).Note 21 In this context, several of these new offences are considered crimes against the person under the Criminal Code. These include: the purchasing of sexual services or communicating for that purpose, receiving a material benefit deriving from the purchase of sexual services, procuring of persons for the purpose of prostitution, and advertising sexual services offered for sale. In addition, some other offences related to prostitution are classified as non-violent offences. These include communicating to provide sexual services for consideration, and stopping or impeding traffic for the purpose of offering, providing or obtaining sexual services for consideration.

In 2015, there were 628 police-reported incidents related to the commodification of sexual activity (categorized as violent crime), and another 171 incidents recorded as prostitution (categorized as non-violent crime).

Police report increase in rate of violent firearms offences in 2015

Violent firearms offences include discharging a firearm with intent, using a firearm in the commission of an offence, and pointing a firearm. The combined rate of these offences increased from 5 to 6 incidents per 100,000 population between 2014 and 2015 (+22%). Much of the national increase was due to higher rates in Ontario (+30%), mainly in Toronto (+46%), as well as in Alberta (+31%), and British Columbia (+43%).

About four in ten violent firearms offences consisted of pointing a firearm (43%), another 39% involved discharging a firearm with intent, and 18% were for using a firearm in the commission of an offence. It should be noted, however, that incidents involving a violent firearm violation as well as a more serious Criminal Code violation, such as homicide or robbery, would be reported as these more serious violations and not as firearms offences.Note 22

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Text box 5
Measuring crime in Canada: Police-reported data and the General Social Survey on Victimization

In Canada, two main national surveys collect crime-related data: the Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Survey and the General Social Survey (GSS) on Victimization. The UCR Survey collects police-reported data, while the GSS on Victimization collects information from a sample of Canadians aged 15 years and older. The GSS on Victimization is conducted every five years, with the most recent survey conducted in 2014. Unlike the UCR Survey, the GSS on Victimization captures information both on crimes that have been reported to police and those that have not. The GSS on Victimization, however, collects information for a subset of offences—sexual assault, robbery, physical assault, breaking and entering, theft of motor vehicles or their parts, theft of personal property, theft of household property, and vandalism—and does not include crimes committed against businesses or institutions.

While both surveys are used to measure crime, significant methodological and conceptual differences exist between them and affect direct comparisons of data findings (for further information, see Wallace et al. 2009). It is possible, however, to compare trends from the two surveys to better understand changes in the pattern of crimes reported to police. For instance, data from both the UCR survey and the GSS on victimization show large declines in overall violent and property crime between 2004 and 2014.

In contrast, while UCR data show a decline in the rate of sexual assaults over that same period, GSS data show it remained relatively stable. This likely reflects the fact that few sexual assaults are reported to police, making any comparison between both surveys quite difficult. According to the GSS, 31% of the eight crime types measured in the provinces were reported to the police in 2014. Reporting rates ranged from 5% of sexual assaults to 50% of break-ins. Moreover, retrospective questions on child abuse also show that the vast majority (93%) of those who were victimized by an adult before age 15 never reported the abuse to the police or child welfare services.

Among victims reporting to the GSS on Victimization, the most common reason for not reporting a criminal incident to police was that they considered it too minor to be worth reporting (78%). Other reasons for not reporting the criminal incident to police included feeling that the police wouldn’t have considered the incident important enough (58%), that there was a lack of evidence (52%), that police would not have found the offender or stolen property (51%), that no one was harmed or there was no financial loss (49%), or that the incident was a private matter and was handled informally (43%).Note 23

For more information about the results of the 2014 GSS on Victimization, see “Criminal victimization in Canada, 2014” (Perreault 2015), “Criminal victimization in the Territories, 2014” (Perreault and Simpson 2016), and “Victimization of Aboriginal People in Canada” (Boyce 2016).

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Non-violent crime

All types of police-reported property crime increased in 2015, in large part due to increases in Alberta

In 2015, most crime reported by police continued to be non-violent in nature, with property offences and other Criminal Code offences accounting for four out of five (80%) police-reported crimes. In total, there were almost 1.5 million police-reported non-violent Criminal Code incidents in 2015 (excluding traffic), of which over 1.1 million were property crimes (Table 1b). Between 2014 and 2015, the rate of police-reported property crime in Canada increased 4% to 3,220 per 100,000 population. Increases were recorded for every type of property crime. Over the same period, there was a slight increase in the rate of other non-violent Criminal Code offences (excluding traffic) from 915 to 916 per 100,000 population.

After eleven consecutive years of decline, the non-violent CSI, which includes all federal statutes and traffic offences, increased 4% in 2015 (Table 1a). Overall, the higher non-violent CSI for Canada was in large part the result of increased property crime in Alberta, primarily breaking and entering and theft of $5,000 or under.

The offences which contributed most to the national non-violent CSI increase (see Text box 6) were fraud (with a 15% increase in rate) and breaking and entering (4% increase in rate). Other offences which reported large increases, but with less impact on the non-violent CSI, included possession of stolen property (+13%), counterfeiting (+13%), and child pornography (+10%). In addition, a large increase in terrorism offences was recorded between 2014 and 2015 (from 76 to 173 incidents). About half of terrorism incidents in 2015 were for participating in the activity of a terrorist group (36%) or for leaving Canada to participate in the activity of a terrorist group (16%) (Table 5).

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Text box 6
Violations contributing to the change in the non-violent Crime Severity Index (CSI) between 2014 and 2015, by province and territory

Text box 6 table
Violations contributing to the change in the non-violent Crime Severity Index (CSI) between 2014 and 2015, by province and territory
Table summary
This table displays the results of Violations contributing to the change in the non-violent Crime Severity Index (CSI) between 2014 and 2015 Percent change in
non-violent CSI from 2014 to 2015 and Violations driving the change in the non-violent CSI (appearing as column headers).
  Percent change in
non-violent CSI from 2014 to 2015
Violations driving the change in the non-violent CSI
Canada +4 Fraud, Breaking and entering
Newfoundland and Labrador +2 Mischief, Theft of $5,000 or under
Prince Edward Island -8 Theft of $5,000 or under
Nova Scotia -10 Breaking and entering, Theft of $5,000 or under
New Brunswick +15 Breaking and entering, Fraud, Theft of $5,000 or under
Quebec -5 Breaking and entering
Ontario +1 Fraud1
Manitoba +9 Breaking and entering
Saskatchewan +10 Breaking and entering, Fraud
Alberta +20 Breaking and entering, Theft of $5,000 or under
British Columbia +2 Fraud
Yukon +3 Breaking and entering
Northwest Territories +4 Breaking and entering
Nunavut +3 Mischief

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In 2015, Saskatchewan and Alberta recorded the highest non-violent CSIs of all the provinces (Table 2a). As is generally the case, the three territories had the highest non-violent CSIs in Canada, primarily explained by particularly high levels of mischief, breaking and entering, and disturbing the peace.

Increases in the non-violent CSI were reported in most provinces and territories. Alberta recorded the largest increase in non-violent CSI (+20%), primarily the result of a 34% increase in the rate of breaking and entering as well as a 21% increase in theft of $5,000 or under. Large increases in non-violent CSIs were also recorded in New Brunswick (+15%), Saskatchewan (+10%) and Manitoba (+9%). In all of these provinces, higher rates of breaking and entering were the main drivers of the increases in the non-violent CSI. Only in Nova Scotia (-10%), Prince Edward Island (-8%), and Quebec (-5%) were there decreases in the non-violent CSI.

As with the violent CSI, changes in the non-violent CSI varied considerably among Canada’s CMAs in 2015 (Table 3). The largest increases in the non-violent CSI were in Calgary (+36%), Moncton (+29%), and Edmonton (+18%), all mainly due to increased levels of breaking and entering and theft of $5,000 or under. In contrast, notable declines in the non-violent CSI were reported in Halifax (-9%) and Thunder Bay (-9%), and Trois-Rivières (-6%). The violations contributing to these declines varied by CMA. In Canada’s largest CMAs, Toronto, Montréal, and Vancouver, the non-violent CSIs changed +2%, -5% and -1%, respectively.

Rate of police-reported break-ins up for the first time since 2003

Breaking and entering is the most serious property crime, and it continued to be one of the most common forms of property crime in 2015, following the less serious violations of theft of $5,000 or under and mischief. In total, police reported over 159,000 break-ins in 2015, or a rate of 444 per 100,000 population, accounting for 14% of all property-related offences. As such, breaking and entering plays an important role in the year-over-year changes in property crime and crime overall.Note 24 The highest rates of breaking and entering in Canada were reported in the three territories as well as in Saskatchewan. The lowest rates were reported in Ontario, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island (Table 6).

Since peaking in the early 1990s, the police-reported rate of breaking and entering had been generally declining in Canada (Chart 13). In 2015, the rate increased 4%, returning it to 2013 levels. This increase is mainly attributable to a 34% increase in breaking and entering in Alberta, as well as smaller increases in Manitoba (+17%) and Saskatchewan (+9%) (Table 6). In addition, Yukon (+40%), New Brunswick (+19%), and the Northwest Territories (+14%) had relatively large increases, but, with small numbers of incidents, they contributed little to the national rise in break-ins. In contrast, an 8% drop in breaking and entering in Quebec somewhat offset the increases elsewhere. Nova Scotia, Nunavut and Ontario also reported fewer break-ins.

Chart 13

Description for Chart 13
Data table for Chart 13
Table summary
This table displays the results of Data table for Chart 13. The information is grouped by Year (appearing as row headers), Breaking and entering and Motor vehicle theft, calculated using rate per 100,000 population units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Year Breaking and entering Motor vehicle theft
rate per 100,000 population
1984 1,394 299
1985 1,380 318
1986 1,399 328
1987 1,377 329
1988 1,341 334
1989 1,277 367
1990 1,370 412
1991 1,550 497
1992 1,506 518
1993 1,417 546
1994 1,338 550
1995 1,334 552
1996 1,341 608
1997 1,248 592
1998 1,163 550
1999 1,046 531
2000 956 522
2001 901 544
2002 879 516
2003 901 551
2004 864 532
2005 811 496
2006 772 487
2007 704 443
2008 635 378
2009 613 321
2010 579 272
2011 528 240
2012 507 225
2013 445 206
2014 428 208
2015 444 220

Much of the increase in the rate of breaking and entering at the national level between 2014 and 2015 can be accounted for by increases in the rate of incidents reported by police in Calgary (+53%) and Edmonton (+34%), and somewhat mitigated by a drop in the rate of break-ins in Montréal (-7%) and Vancouver (-6%) (Table 7). A large increase in rate was also reported in Moncton (+59%), while London (-21%), Gatineau (-21%) and Trois-Rivières (-19%) recorded the largest declines. Saskatoon, with a 6% increase in the rate of breaking and entering in 2015, continued to record the highest rate among CMAs (813 per 100,000 population).

Motor vehicle theft up due to increases in Alberta

There were nearly 79,000 incidents of motor vehicle theft reported by police in 2015, resulting in a rate of 220 per 100,000 population. Between 2014 and 2015, the rate of motor vehicle theft in Canada increased 6%. This was the second consecutive increase in the rate following ten years of declines (Chart 13). However, the rate of motor vehicle theft in 2015 was 56% lower than ten years earlier, marking the largest ten-year decline among all types of property crime (Table 5).

As with many other property offences, much of the increase in the rate of motor vehicle theft in 2015 can be attributed increased levels in Alberta (+32% increase in rate). Large increases in rates of motor vehicle theft were also reported in Yukon (+25%), Prince Edward Island (+19%), and the Northwest Territories (+18%), but with little impact on the change at the national level due to small numbers of incidents. However, a 14% decline in rates of motor vehicle theft in Quebec somewhat mitigated the impact of the increase in Alberta on the national rate.

The highest rates of motor vehicle theft in 2015 were reported in Alberta (532 per 100,000 population), the Northwest Territories (528 per 100,000 population) and Saskatchewan (427 per 100,000 population). Despite the large increase in rate reported in Prince Edward Island in 2015, it still had the lowest rate of motor vehicle theft (65 per 100,000 population) among all provinces and territories, followed by the other Atlantic provinces and Ontario (Table 6).

Increases in rates of motor vehicle theft in Alberta’s two CMAs, Calgary (+67%) and Edmonton (+16%), accounted for most of the increased number of incidents at the national level in 2015. Windsor and Kitchener-Cambridge-Waterloo also had notably large increases in rates of motor vehicle theft in 2015 (+39% and +30% respectively). In contrast, Sherbrooke (-41%) and Saint John (-26%) reported relatively large declines (Table 7).

Police-reported impaired driving rate down for fourth consecutive year

Police reported just over 72,000 alcohol or drug impaired driving incidents in 2015, about 2,500 fewer than the year before. The rate of impaired driving decreased by 4% in 2015 to 201 impaired driving incidents per 100,000 population, representing the fourth consecutive decline (Table 5, Chart 14).

Chart 14

Description for Chart 14
Data table for Chart 14
Table summary
This table displays the results of Data table for Chart 14. The information is grouped by Year (appearing as row headers), rate per 100,000 population (appearing as column headers).
Year rate per 100,000 population
1986 577
1987 561
1988 538
1989 529
1990 502
1991 502
1992 467
1993 410
1994 372
1995 349
1996 325
1997 301
1998 291
1999 283
2000 258
2001 267
2002 255
2003 245
2004 252
2005 243
2006 234
2007 241
2008 255
2009 263
2010 257
2011 261
2012 242
2013 221
2014 210
2015 201

Since July 2008, under the Criminal Code, police can perform compulsory roadside checks and assessments if they suspect a driver is under the influence of drugs (Owusu-Bempah 2014; Perreault 2013). Almost all police-reported impaired driving incidents continued to involve alcohol in 2014 (96%), while a small proportion (4%) involved drugs.

Unlike the overall decline in impaired driving between 2014 and 2015, the number and rate for almost all drug impaired driving violations increased. In total, there were 2,786 drug impaired driving violations in 2015, 268 more than the previous year. Despite a 10% increase in rate, the rate of drug impaired driving (7.8 per 100,000 population) remained low compared with the rate of alcohol impaired driving (193 per 100,000 population). The low rate for drug impaired driving may be partly explained by the fact that determining and measuring the level of drug impairment can be more difficult and less reliable than the measures used to detect alcohol impaired driving (Owusu-Bempah 2014).

Police-reported impaired driving rates declined in every province except New Brunswick, which reported a 5% increase, and Quebec, Ontario and Manitoba where rates were stable (Table 6). The largest declines in impaired driving rates were reported in Newfoundland and Labrador (-12%), Yukon (-10%), Alberta (-9%) and British Columbia (-9%).

It is important to note that the number of impaired driving offences reported by police can be influenced by a number of factors, including changes in legislation, varying law enforcement practices across jurisdictions (e.g., roadside check programs such as Ontario’s Reduce Impaired Driving Everywhere program (RIDE)), as well as changing societal attitudes toward drinking and driving (Perreault 2013).

Cannabis offences continue to decline for fourth year in a row

In Canada, drug offences such as possession, trafficking, importation and exportation, and production fall under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (CDSA). In 2015, there were about 96,000 CDSA offences reported by police, representing a rate of 269 per 100,000 population (Table 5). Of these offences, half (51%) were incidents of cannabis possession and another 9% were related to the trafficking, production or distribution of cannabis.

In contrast to the increase in the rate of crime under the Criminal Code, the overall rate of Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (CDSA) violations decreased in 2015, down 9% from the previous year. This decrease was primarily the result of fewer police-reported drug offences involving cannabis. Both the rate of cannabis possession (-15%), as well as the rate of drug offences related to the trafficking, production, and distribution of cannabis (-16%) fell notably between 2014 and 2015, due mainly to decreases in the rates of cannabis-related offences in Ontario (-16%) and British Columbia (-17%). Declines in the rates of cannabis offences were reported in all provinces and territories, except Nunavut which recorded a 9% increase and Prince Edward Island where rates remained stable (Table 6).

Over the longer term, between 2005 and 2015, the decrease in the overall rate of police-reported drug crime has been smaller than the decrease in the overall crime rate (Criminal Code offences, excluding traffic) (-7% versus -29%). While the police-reported crime rate fell steadily between 2005 and 2014 before increasing in 2015, the rate of drug crime had increased 14% between 2005 and 2011, then began to decline. The decline between 2011 and 2015 was mainly the result of decreases in police-reported incidents related to cannabis (Chart 15).

Chart 15

Description for Chart 15
Data table for Chart 15
Table summary
This table displays the results of Data table for Chart 15. The information is grouped by Year (appearing as row headers), Cannabis, Cocaine and Other drugs, calculated using rate per 100,000 population units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Year CannabisNote 1 CocaineNote 1 Other drugsNote 1Note 2
rate per 100,000 population
1984 171 16 27
1985 169 19 33
1986 159 26 31
1987 163 31 39
1988 149 41 31
1989 148 59 39
1990 140 46 33
1991 119 57 28
1992 123 50 34
1993 125 44 29
1994 140 43 25
1995 150 39 22
1996 160 39 24
1997 160 38 24
1998 169 40 26
1999 197 39 27
2000 216 42 29
2001 219 39 30
2002 222 41 33
2003 193 45 36
2004 213 53 40
2005 188 60 43
2006 183 69 44
2007 191 70 47
2008 197 66 45
2009 195 52 44
2010 221 51 49
2011 228 51 51
2012 212 53 52
2013 209 49 52
2014 193 46 56
2015 164 42 63

Trends in police-reported drug offences in Canada may be related to varying policies, practices and resources available across different police services and over time. For instance, a police service’s decision to target particular offences or offenders may result in the identification of more incidents of drug-related crime, rather than representing an increase in the number of incidents that are actually occurring (Dauvergne 2009). Similarly, when other types of crime are declining, police may be able to focus more resources and efforts on crime involving drugs. Comparisons between police services or, more broadly, between geographical areas, should therefore be made with caution.

While the rate of cannabis and cocaine-related drug offences has declined in recent years, other drug crime has grown steadily

Drug offences related to cocaine were the second most common type of drug crime in 2015, comprising 16% of all incidents under the CDSA. Like cannabis, the rate of cocaine-related crime has been declining in recent years (from a peak in 2007). The rate of offences related to cocaine declined 7% in 2015, as a result of decreases in Alberta (-12%) and British Columbia (-17%), mainly in Vancouver. The only increases in rates of cocaine offences were reported in Nunavut, the Northwest Territories, Newfoundland and Labrador, and Saskatchewan (Table 6).

CDSA offences related to drugs other than cannabis or cocaine accounted for 23% of all drug crimes in 2015.Note 25 Unlike offences related to cannabis and cocaine, however, rates of these other drug offences increased 14% in 2015. This included a notable increase in the rate of possession and trafficking, production and distribution of methamphetamines (i.e., crystal meth) (+25%), as well as increases in the rate of heroin offences (+18%), methylenedioxyamphetamine (i.e., ecstasy) (+7%) and other drugs such as prescription drugs (including opioids such as Fentanyl), LSD, and “date rape” drugs (+6%).

Increases in rates of police-reported drug crime related to these other drug offences (non-cannabis/non-cocaine) were reported in most provinces and territories, but the national increase was primarily the result of higher rates reported in British Columbia (+21%), Alberta (+30%), Quebec (+10%), and Saskatchewan (+56%) (Table 6).

Police-reported youth crime

Fewer youth accused of crime in 2015

While overall crime statistics are based on the number of criminal incidents reported by police (regardless of whether or not an accused is identified), measures of police-reported youth crime are based on the number of youth, aged 12 to 17 years, accused in a criminal incident by police.Note 26 The number of youth accused includes youth who were either charged, or recommended for charging, as well as those who were cleared by other means, including those diverted from the formal criminal justice system through the use of warnings, cautions, referrals to community programs, and other diversion programs.

In total, there were about 92,000 youth accused of a criminal offence in 2015, about 2,700 fewer than in the previous year. Of the youth accused of a criminal offence in 2015, 55% were dealt with by other means, while the remaining 45% were formally charged by police. Since the implementation of the Youth Criminal Justice Act in 2003, the rate of youth dealt with by other means has continued to be higher than the rate of youth formally charged (Chart 16).

Chart 16

Description for Chart 16
Data table for Chart 16
Table summary
This table displays the results of Data table for Chart 16. The information is grouped by Year (appearing as row headers), Youth charged and Youth not charged, calculated using rate per 100,000 youth units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Year Youth charged Youth not chargedNote 1
rate per 100,000 youth
1998 4,365 2,592
1999 4,025 2,414
2000 4,073 2,842
2001 4,117 3,042
2002 3,904 3,041
2003 3,250 4,030
2004 3,004 3,955
2005 2,860 3,736
2006 2,812 3,996
2007 2,886 3,884
2008 2,769 3,768
2009 2,728 3,787
2010 2,564 3,514
2011 2,344 3,138
2012 2,232 2,923
2013 1,969 2,424
2014 1,788 2,255
2015 1,769 2,204

Volume and severity of youth crime continued its downward trend

Between 2014 and 2015, the Youth Crime Severity Index (YCSI), which measures both the volume and severity of crime involving youth accused (both charged and not charged), declined 1%, primarily due to decreases in non-violent crime.Note 27 This was the ninth consecutive decline in the youth CSI since 2007 (Table 8a, Chart 17). In addition, the rate of youth accused by police was down 2% in 2015, to a rate of 3,973 youth accused per 100,000 youth population (Table 8b).

Chart 17

Description for Chart 17
Data table for Chart 17
Table summary
This table displays the results of Data table for Chart 17. The information is grouped by Year (appearing as row headers), Youth Crime Severity Index and Youth violent Crime Severity Index, calculated using index units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Year Youth Crime Severity Index Youth violent Crime Severity Index
index
1998 110.2 86.6
1999 99.3 83.5
2000 103.5 89.3
2001 106.0 91.4
2002 101.1 87.3
2003 106.0 92.6
2004 100.9 87.9
2005 97.4 94.2
2006 100.0 100.0
2007 101.5 102.1
2008 95.7 95.7
2009 95.6 96.7
2010 90.0 93.2
2011 81.7 87.4
2012 77.3 82.2
2013 66.2 71.3
2014 61.0 65.3
2015 60.6 66.5

The police-reported youth crime rate has been on a general downward trend since peaking in 1991. The rate of youth accused of crime has fallen 40% since 2005. The decline over this time period was largely the result of a 47% decrease in the rate of youth accused of property crime.

The rate of youth accused of crime declined or remained stable for the most common crimes committed by youth. In particular, between 2014 and 2015, the rate of youth accused of property crime decreased 1%. Mischief and theft of $5,000 or under were the most frequent property crimes among youth (accounting for 73% of youth accused of property offences in 2015). Between 2014 and 2015, the rate of youth accused of mischief decreased 1% and there was no significant change in the rate of youth accused of theft $5,000 and under.

In addition, youth crime rates for the most frequent violent crimes committed by youth, common assault and uttering threats, which together accounted for 58% of youth accused of violent crime in 2015, fell 2% and 8%, respectively.

While the rate of youth accused in violent crimes overall declined 1% in 2015, the number and rate of youth accused of some of the most serious crimes increased (Table 9a, Table 9b). For instance, 35 youth were accused of homicide in 2015, which was 6 more than in 2014, yet below the previous 10-year average of 58 youth. In contrast, the number of youth accused of attempted murder fell from 52 youth in 2014 to 43 youth in 2015, resulting in a 16% decrease in the rate of youth accused. However, rates of youth accused of sexual assault (all levels combined) increased 4% in 2015, and the rate of youth accused of major physical assault (levels 2 and 3) increased 2%.

The rates of youth accused of breaking and entering (-4%) and robbery (-1%) both declined between 2014 and 2015. The rate of youth accused of offences under the CDSA (drug crimes) fell 18% between 2014 and 2015 with decreases in most types of drug offences. The rate of youth accused of cannabis possession, which accounted for 79% of youth drug crime in 2015, declined 19%, while the rate of youth accused of other cannabis offences (trafficking, production or distribution), which accounted for another 7% of youth accused of drug crime, declined 27%.

Youth Crime Severity Index down in most provinces and territories

Changes in the volume and severity of youth crime (as measured by the YCSI) between 2014 and 2015 varied among provinces and territories. The largest declines were reported in Prince Edward Island (-38%), Nova Scotia (-18%) and the Northwest Territories (-12%) (Table 10). New Brunswick, British Columbia, Ontario and Alberta recorded smaller decreases in their youth CSI. Other provinces and territories reported increases in their youth CSIs, notably Saskatchewan (+11%), Nunavut (+7%) and Yukon (+4%). The youth CSI increased 1% in Manitoba and Newfoundland and Labrador, and there was no significant change in Quebec.

Youth crime continued to decline in the provinces with the greatest increases in overall crime in 2015. For example, in Alberta, which recorded an 18% increase in its CSI, the youth CSI decreased 1% and the youth crime rate fell 5%. Similarly, New Brunswick, which reported a 12% increase in CSI, had a 7% decrease in its youth CSI and a 9% decrease in its youth crime rate.

While the rate of youth charged by police declined 1% and the rate of youth dealt with by police by other means declined 2% in 2015, the rate of adults charged increased 2%.Note 28

Summary

Both the police-reported Crime Severity Index (CSI) and the crime rate increased in Canada in 2015 after eleven years of decline, primarily the result of a large increase in police-reported crime in Alberta. While increases were reported in most offences in 2015, the overall increase in the volume and severity of crime, as measured by the CSI, was primarily due to more incidents of fraud, breaking and entering, robbery, and homicide. Most provinces and territories reported increases in their CSIs, with the exception of Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, Quebec, Yukon and Nunavut.

While the overall police-reported crime rate in Canada increased between 2014 and 2015, the rate of youth accused of crime as well as the youth CSI continued to decline. Declines in the rate of youth accused were seen in the majority of offences, including many forms of property crime and most forms of violent crime.

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Recent Juristat articles on topics related to police-reported crime statistics and criminal victimization

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Key terminology and definitions

Most serious violation: Individuals accused of crime are categorized by the most serious violation occurring in the police-reported incident in which they are accused. In incidents with multiple accused involving multiple violations, each individual in the incident will be coded with the most serious violation even if this was not the violation(s) that the person was accused of. It is therefore possible that the most serious violation is not the offence for which an individual was accused, but one committed by another accused in the incident. Moreover, in this type of incident, any charges against the accused may be for less serious offences in the incident.

Violent offences: Involve the use or threatened use of violence against a person, including homicide, attempted murder, assault, sexual assault, and robbery. Robbery is considered a violent offence because, unlike other theft offences, it involves the use or threat of violence. See Table 5 for a list of selected offences in this category.

Property offences: Involve unlawful acts to gain property, but do not involve the use or threat of violence against the person. They include offences such as break and enter, theft, and mischief. See Table 5 for a list of selected offences in this category.

“Other” Criminal Code offences: Include crimes such as disturbing the peace and offences against the administration of justice such as failure to comply with an order, failure to appear, or breach of probation.

Drug-related offences: Include offences under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act such as importation, exportation, trafficking, production and possession of drugs or narcotics. Examples include cannabis/marijuana, cocaine, heroin, and other drugs such as crystal meth, PCP, LSD and ecstasy.

Other federal statute violations: Include violations of federal statutes other than the Criminal Code and the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. These include violations of the Youth Criminal Justice Act.

Survey description

Uniform Crime Reporting Survey

The Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Survey was established in 1962 with the co-operation and assistance of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police. The scope of the survey is Criminal Code offences and other federal statutes that have been reported to federal, provincial or municipal police services in Canada and that have been substantiated through investigation by these services.

Coverage of the UCR aggregate data reflects virtually 100% of the total caseload for all police services in Canada. One incident can involve multiple offences. In order to ensure comparability, counts presented in this article are based upon the most serious offence in the incident as determined by a standard classification rule used by all police services. Counts based upon all violations are available upon request.

Each year, the UCR database is “frozen” at the end of May for the production of crime statistics for the preceding calendar year. However, police services continue to send updated data to Statistics Canada after this date for incidents that occurred in previous years. Generally, these revisions constitute new accused records, as incidents are solved and accused persons are identified by police. However, some new incidents may be added and previously reported incidents may be deleted as new information becomes known.

Revisions are accepted for a one-year period after the data are initially released. For example, when the 2015 crime statistics are released, the 2014 data are updated with any revisions that have been made between May 2014 and May 2015. The data are revised only once and are then permanently frozen. Over the past 11 years (2005 to 2015 releases), data corresponding to previous years have been revised upward 8 times and revised downward 3 times, with an average annual revision of 0.20%. The 2014 revision to counts of persons charged and youth not charged resulted in a 0.5% increase to 2014 counts.

Measuring incidents of crime

Data from the Uniform Crime Reporting Survey are used to calculate both the traditional crime rate and the Crime Severity Index (CSI). Both the traditional crime rate and the CSI are based on the aggregate count of criminal incidents. A criminal incident involves one or more related offences that are committed during a single criminal event and have been reported to and substantiated by police. Where there are multiple victims within a single criminal event, a separate aggregate incident is counted for each victim. For example, a single incident involving an assault on three victims at the same time and location is counted in the aggregate statistics as three incidents of assault.

Police services can report up to four violations for each incident; however, this has typically only been the practice since the late 1980s and not for all police services. Therefore, both the traditional crime rate and the CSI are based on the most serious violation in the criminal incident. By basing the measures on the most serious offence in an incident, it allows for historical comparisons, as well as better comparisons among police services.

It is possible, however, that by counting only the most serious violation, some offences may be underrepresented. This has little or no effect on serious violent offences, such as homicide, sexual assault and aggravated assault. However, some, but not all, minor offences are less likely to be the most serious when occurring at the same time as other more serious violations. These secondary offences, therefore, are not included in the calculation of aggregate statistics, the crime rate or the CSI.

For more information on counting crime in Canada, see Measuring Crime in Canada: Introducing the Crime Severity Index and Improvements to the Uniform Crime Reporting Survey (Wallace et al. 2009) and The Methodology of the Police-Reported Crime Severity Index (Babyak et al. 2009).

Detailed data tables

Table 1a Police-reported Crime Severity Indexes, Canada, 2005 to 2015

Table 1b Police-reported crime rate, Canada, 2005 to 2015

Table 2a Police-reported Crime Severity Indexes, by province and territory, 2015

Table 2b Police-reported crime rate, by province and territory, 2015

Table 3 Police-reported Crime Severity Indexes, by census metropolitan area, 2015

Table 4 Police-reported crime rate, by census metropolitan area, 2015

Table 5 Police-reported crime for selected offences, Canada, 2014 and 2015

Table 6 Police-reported crime for selected offences, by province and territory, 2015

Table 7 Police-reported crime for selected offences, by census metropolitan area, 2015

Table 8a Police-reported youth Crime Severity Indexes, Canada, 2005 to 2015

Table 8b Youth accused of police-reported crime, Canada, 2005 to 2015

Table 9a Police-reported youth crime, by selected violent offences, by province and territory, 2015

Table 9b Police-reported youth crime, by selected non-violent offences, by province and territory, 2015

Table 10 Police-reported youth Crime Severity Indexes, by province and territory, 2015

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Notes

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