Police-reported crime statistics in Canada, 2016

Release date: July 24, 2017

by Kathryn Keighley

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Highlights

  • Police-reported crime in Canada, as measured by the Crime Severity Index (CSI), increased for the second year in a row in 2016. The CSI measures the volume and severity of police-reported crime in Canada, and has a base index value of 100 for 2006. In 2016, the national CSI increased 1% from 70.1 in 2015 to 71.0, but remained 29% lower than a decade earlier in 2006.
  • At 5,224 incidents per 100,000 population, the police-reported crime rate, which measures the volume of police-reported crime, was virtually unchanged in 2016. This rate was 28% lower than a decade earlier in 2006.
  • There were almost 1.9 million police-reported Criminal Code incidents (excluding traffic) reported by police in 2016, approximately 27,700 more incidents than in 2015.
  • In 2016, the overall volume and severity of violent crime, as measured by the violent CSI, was 75.3 and virtually unchanged from the previous year. In contrast, the police-reported violent crime rate, which measures the volume of violent police-reported crime, declined 1% to 1,052 per 100,000 population. That year, rates for half the violent violations decreased, with the largest decrease reported for criminal harassment (-7%).
  • Although the rate of police-reported violent crime declined overall, violent violations which experienced an increase in rate were: sexual violations against children (+30%), violations causing death other than homicide (+14%), offences related to the commodification of sexual activity (+11%), aggravated sexual assault (+6%), forcible confinement or kidnapping (+4%), threatening or harassing phone calls (+3%), the use of, discharge, and pointing of firearms (+3%), assault with a weapon or causing bodily harm (+1%) and aggravated assault (+1%).
  • The overall volume and severity of non-violent crime, as measured by the non-violent CSI rose to 69.3 in 2016, marking a 2% increase from the previous year. The increase was largely driven by increases in police-reported incidents of fraud.
  • After notable increases in property offences in 2015, police-reported crime rates for all types of property crimes decreased or remained the same in 2016, with the exception of theft of $5,000 or under and total fraud. The rate of total fraud, which includes general fraud (+14%), identity fraud (+16%) and identity theft (+21%), was 14% higher than in 2015. Increases in total fraud were reported by all provinces and territories except the Northwest Territories (-12%) and New Brunswick (-12%).
  • In 2016, seven of Canada’s thirteen provinces and territories reported decreases in their CSI and Yukon reported no change. Increases were reported by Saskatchewan (+9%), Manitoba (+8%), Newfoundland and Labrador (+6%), Nunavut (+4%) and Ontario (+4%).
  • In 2016, 20 of the 33 census metropolitan areas (CMAs) reported increases in their CSI values with the largest increases recorded in the CMA’s of Winnipeg and Regina (+16% and +15%, respectively).
  • Regina and Saskatoon continued to be the CMAs with the highest CSIs. Trois-Rivières reported the largest decline (-14%) and the fourth lowest CSI after the CMAs of Toronto, Barrie and Québec.
  • In 2016, police reported 611 homicides, 2 more than the previous year. Due to growth in Canada’s population, the homicide rate decreased 1% from 1.70 homicides per 100,000 population in 2015 to 1.68 homicides per 100,000 population in 2016. The relative stability in the national number of homicides is a result of notable declines in homicides in Alberta (-17 homicides), Quebec (-12) and British Columbia (-10) combined with the largest increases reported in Ontario (+32) and Saskatchewan (+10).
  • The rate of attempted murder decreased by 1% between 2015 and 2016, yet variations were reported across the country. While New Brunswick, Alberta, Nova Scotia and British Columbia reported notable decreases in 2016, notable increases were seen in Saskatchewan and Manitoba.
  • Police-reported rates of cannabis-related drug offences declined for the fifth consecutive year in 2016. The rate of possession of cannabis declined 12% from 2015 with all provinces and territories reporting declines, except Prince Edward Island (+15%), New Brunswick (+7%) and Quebec which reported no change.
  • The rate of impaired driving decreased by 3% in 2016 to 194 impaired driving incidents per 100,000 population, representing the fifth consecutive decline. In 2016, Prince Edward Island (+24%) and Manitoba (+19%) were the only provinces to report increases in their rates.
  • In 2016, there were 3,098 incidents of police-reported drug-impaired driving, 343 more than the previous year. Overall, the rate for drug-impaired driving increased 11%. The national increase was largely driven by increases in the rates for Ontario (+38%), British Columbia (+29%) and Quebec (+10%). The rate of drug impaired driving (8.5 per 100,000 population) remained low compared with the rate of alcohol impaired driving (186 per 100,000 population).
  • In 2016, the Youth Crime Severity Index (youth CSI), which measures both the volume and severity of crimes involving youth accused (both charged and not charged) declined 2%. The youth non-violent CSI also declined 8%. The rate of youth accused of drug crimes (-14%), mischief (-13%), motor vehicle theft (-13%), breaking and entering (-11%), and theft of $5000 or under (-8%) were all lower in 2016.
  • In 2016, the violent youth CSI increased 5% due to higher rates of police-reported youth accused of attempted murder (+115%), sexual violations against children (+38%) and robbery (+6%).

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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  In addition to the UCR Survey, Statistics Canada also collects information on victims’ experiences with crime through the General Social Survey (GSS) on victimization, conducted every five years. Unlike the UCR Survey, the GSS collects data on victim’s perceptions of crime which include criminal incidents that may not 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 2016 UCR Survey.Note  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  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 

Canada’s Crime Severity Index increased for second year in a row

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). Canada’s CSI in 2016 was slightly higher than in the previous year, increasing 1% from 70.1 in 2015 to 71.0 in 2016, and marking the second annual increase (Table 1a). Since 1998, Canada’s CSI has steadily declined, with the exception of a 5% increase reported in 2015 and a 3% increase reported in 2003 (Chart 1). The 2016 CSI is 29% lower than a decade previously.

Chart 1

Data table 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 119 98
1999 111 99
2000 107 98
2001 105 97
2002 104 96
2003 107 98
2004 104 96
2005 101 99
2006 100 100
2007 95 98
2008 91 95
2009 88 94
2010 83 89
2011 78 86
2012 75 82
2013 69 74
2014 67 71
2015 70 75
2016 71 75

The slight increase in the national CSI between 2015 and 2016 was primarily driven by a continued increase in the rate of fraud (+14%). Increases in police-reported rates of administration of justice offences, sexual violations against children and child pornography were also reported. These increases were offset by fewer police-reported incidents of breaking and entering, mischief and robbery resulting in a slight increase to Canada’s CSI compared to 2015.

At 5,224 incidents per 100,000 population, the police-reported crime rate, which measures the volume of crime per 100,000 population, remained stable in 2016 (Table 1b, Chart 2). Like the CSI, Canada’s crime rate has been on a downward trend since 1998, with the exception of increases reported in 2015 and 2003 (Chart 3). Canada’s crime rate is 28% lower than a decade ago.

Chart 2

Data table 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 Crime Severity Index and rate per 1000,000 population units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Year Crime Severity Index Crime rate
Crime Severity Index rate per 1000,000 population
1998 119 8,092
1999 111 7,694
2000 107 7,607
2001 105 7,587
2002 104 7,512
2003 107 7,770
2004 104 7,600
2005 101 7,325
2006 100 7,245
2007 95 6,908
2008 91 6,631
2009 88 6,461
2010 83 6,159
2011 78 5,779
2012 75 5,632
2013 69 5,195
2014 67 5,046
2015 70 5,210
2016 71 5,224

Chart 3

Data table 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 5,211 752 2,427 2,032
2016 5,224 748 2,466 2,011

While Canada’s crime rate remained relatively stable between 2015 and 2016, other countries, despite differences in reporting standards, have recently recorded increases. The number of offences in Australia increased for the fourth consecutive year ending in June 2016 (Commonwealth of Australia 2017). Preliminary crime data for the first 6-months of 2016 show an increase in violent crime in the United States and no change to property crimes (Federal Bureau of Investigation 2017). England and Wales also reported an annual increase in police-reported crime in 2016. However, the country attributed some of the increase to changes in reporting and recorded no statistical change in crimes against the person using victim-based reporting measures (Office for National Statistics 2017).

Canadian police services reported almost 1.9 million Criminal Code incidents (excluding traffic) in 2016, approximately 27,700 more incidents than in 2015. In addition to these incidents, there were about 123,900 Criminal Code traffic offences, 95,400 Controlled Drugs and Substances Act offences, and 27,700 other federal offences (such as the Youth Criminal Justice Act and Income Tax Act) recorded by police in 2016. In total, there were just over 2.1 million police-reported Criminal Code and other federal statute incidents in 2016, about 23,900 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 downward 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 

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 relative 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  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). 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 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), Updating the Police-Reported Crime Severity Index Weights: Refinements to the Methodology” (Babyak et al. 2013) and “Measuring Crime in Canada: A detailed look at the Crime Severity Index” video.

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Seven of thirteen provinces and territories reported decreases in Crime Severity Index

Between 2015 and 2016, seven of Canada’s thirteen provinces and territories reported decreases in their Crime Severity Index (CSI), and Yukon reported no change (Table 2a). In order of magnitude, the seven provinces and territories which reported decreases were: Northwest Territories (-9%), Quebec (-3%), Prince Edward Island (-3%), Nova Scotia (-3%), New Brunswick (-2%), Alberta (-1%), and British Columbia (-1%). In the Northwest Territories, the change in CSI was driven primarily by a decrease in police-reported incidents of mischief, homicide and breaking and entering. Prince Edward Island also reported fewer incidents of breaking and entering and homicide. Breaking and entering was a major contributing factor affecting CSI for almost all provinces and territories regardless of whether an increase or decrease in CSI was reported (see Text box 2).

After reporting the largest increase in CSI in 2015, Alberta’s 1% decline in CSI in 2016 was driven by decreases in robbery, homicide and mischief. Similarly, New Brunswick also saw a decline in 2016 (-2%), following a large increase in CSI in 2015 (+11%).

The provinces and territories which reported increases were: Saskatchewan (+9%), Manitoba (+8%), Newfoundland and Labrador (+6%), Nunavut (+4%) and Ontario (+4%). In Saskatchewan, the change in CSI was driven primarily by an increase in police-reported incidents of fraud, breaking and entering and homicide. Manitoba also saw an increase in breaking and entering, but the change to CSI in Manitoba was primarily driven by a larger number of robberies reported.

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Text box 2
Violations contributing to the change in the Crime Severity Index (CSI) between 2015 and 2016, by province and territory

Text box 2
Violations contributing to the change in the Crime Severity Index (CSI) between 2015 and 2016, by province and territory
Table summary
This table displays the results of Violations contributing to the change in the Crime Severity Index (CSI) between 2015 and 2016. The information is grouped by Province and territory (appearing as row headers), Percent change in CSI from 2015 to 2016 and Violations driving the change in CSI (appearing as column headers).
Province and territory Percent change in CSI from 2015 to 2016 Violations driving the change in CSI
Canada +1 Fraud
Newfoundland and Labrador +6 Fraud, Homicide, Breaking and entering, Robbery
Prince Edward Island -3 Breaking and entering, HomicideText box Note 1
Nova Scotia -3 Breaking and entering, Mischief, RobberyText box Note 1
New Brunswick -2 Theft of $5,000 or under, Fraud, Breaking and enteringText box Note 2
Quebec -3 Breaking and entering, Theft of $5,000 or under, RobberyText box Note 1
Ontario +4 Fraud, Homicide, Robbery
Manitoba +8 Robbery, Breaking and entering
Saskatchewan +9 Fraud, Breaking and entering, Homicide
Alberta -1 Robbery, Homicide, MischiefText box Note 1
British Columbia -1 Robbery, Breaking and enteringText box Note 3
Yukon 0sNote: value rounded to 0 (zero) where there is a meaningful distinction between true zero and the value that was rounded Not applicable
Northwest Territories -9 Mischief, Homicide, Breaking and entering
Nunavut +4 Sexual violations against children, Attempted murder

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Similar to previous years, CSI values and crime rates were highest in the Territories (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 account for 35% of Criminal Code incidents (excluding traffic) in the Territories (compared to 14% nationally), as well as breaking and entering. Although the Northwest Territories recorded the largest drop in both CSI (-9%) and crime rate (-9%) between 2015 and 2016, this territory reported the highest CSI (291.7) and crime rate (40,588 incidents per 100,000 population). Following the Territories, the Western provinces reported the highest CSIs and crime rates. Among the provinces, Saskatchewan continued to report the highest overall CSI (148.8) and crime rate (11,746 incidents per 100,000 population). Prince Edward Island (48.5) reported the lowest CSI in 2016, while Quebec continued to report the lowest crime rate (3,247 per 100,000 population).

Despite some fluctuations over the years, compared with 2006, almost all provinces and territories reported lower CSIs and lower crime rates (Charts 4 to 7, Table 2b). The exceptions to the national decline were Yukon and Nunavut, which reported marginal increases in CSI of 2% each. Increases in crime rate were also only reported in Yukon (+13%) and Nunavut (+10%).

Chart 4

Data table 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 73 105 90 119
1999 69 79 105 90 111
2000 70 76 95 85 107
2001 69 75 93 83 105
2002 71 85 94 85 104
2003 74 91 101 88 107
2004 79 82 107 88 104
2005 79 77 102 80 101
2006 73 72 101 74 100
2007 75 64 92 71 95
2008 71 69 84 72 91
2009 71 66 84 71 88
2010 79 66 84 69 83
2011 72 67 79 66 78
2012 68 73 77 68 75
2013 68 65 70 60 69
2014 62 55 66 56 67
2015 66 50 63 63 70
2016 69 49 61 62 71

Chart 5

Data table 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 113 101 167 119
1999 104 92 156 111
2000 102 89 145 107
2001 97 87 147 105
2002 94 85 148 104
2003 93 83 155 107
2004 90 78 153 104
2005 90 77 146 101
2006 91 79 140 100
2007 85 75 132 95
2008 83 71 122 91
2009 81 69 112 88
2010 76 66 104 83
2011 73 61 97 78
2012 70 59 95 75
2013 62 52 89 69
2014 57 50 91 67
2015 56 51 94 70
2016 55 53 94 71

Chart 6

Data table 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 154 176 123 119
1999 153 167 119 111
2000 150 169 111 107
2001 153 176 115 105
2002 148 176 116 104
2003 161 200 125 107
2004 163 192 124 104
2005 157 181 122 101
2006 156 171 116 100
2007 151 165 114 95
2008 130 153 112 91
2009 138 150 106 88
2010 127 148 98 83
2011 116 144 88 78
2012 114 139 86 75
2013 101 126 85 69
2014 97 124 87 67
2015 106 137 104 70
2016 114 149 102 71

Chart 7

Data table 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 226 267 119
1999 230 255 219 111
2000 268 252 250 107
2001 249 260 289 105
2002 264 297 319 104
2003 259 339 361 107
2004 245 353 372 104
2005 199 343 327 101
2006 180 316 280 100
2007 186 336 316 95
2008 183 343 327 91
2009 181 326 333 88
2010 171 348 343 83
2011 155 342 315 78
2012 157 339 318 75
2013 170 315 285 69
2014 189 290 283 67
2015 184 322 275 70
2016 184 292 286 71

Twenty census metropolitan areas recorded an increase in the severity of police-reported crime

Between 2015 and 2016, 20 of 33 of Canada’s census metropolitan areas (CMAs) reported increases in their Crime Severity Index (CSI) (Table 3).Note  The largest increases in CSI were recorded in the CMA’s of Winnipeg and Regina (+16% and +15%, respectively). Winnipeg’s increase was a result of more reported incidents of robbery and breaking and entering. A higher CSI in Regina was primarily due to more incidents of fraud and attempted murder. Brantford (+13%) and Ottawa (+10%) also reported increases, both due to increases in homicide, breaking and entering and fraud. Fraud also contributed to the increase in CSI in Québec (+8%) although the change was predominantly a result of an increase in forcible confinement or kidnapping.

Calgary, which had the largest increase in CSI in 2015 (+30%), reported a 6% decline in 2016 primarily driven by decreases in breaking and entering and robbery. Similarly, of the other four CMAs which had recorded the largest increase in 2015, Victoria (-12%), Abbotsford-Mission (-5%) and Moncton (-4%) also reported declines in their CSIs in 2016. In Edmonton, however, crime continued to increase (+3%) as a result of increases in theft of $5,000 or under and fraud.

Regina (125.8) and Saskatoon (117.8) were the CMAs with the highest CSIs in 2016, as has been the case since 2010 (Chart 8). Relatively high CSIs were recorded in Edmonton (105.7), Winnipeg (103.9), Kelowna (100.3), Vancouver (94.3) and Abbotsford-Mission (91.4). These seven CMAs also had the highest police-reported crime rates in 2016 (Table 4).

Chart 8

Data table 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 areaData table Note 1 Data table Note 2 Data table Note 3 Crime Severity Index
Victoria 64
Vancouver 94
Abbotsford–Mission 91
Kelowna 100
Edmonton 106
Calgary 75
Saskatoon 118
Regina 126
Winnipeg 104
Thunder Bay 86
Greater Sudbury 64
Barrie 45
Windsor 65
London 68
Guelph 55
Brantford 87
Kitchener–Cambridge–Waterloo 61
St. Catharines–Niagara 50
Hamilton 54
Toronto 48
Peterborough 55
Kingston 55
OttawaData table Note 5 51
GatineauData table Note 4 57
Montréal 58
Trois-Rivières 49
Sherbrooke 50
Québec 45
Saguenay 57
Saint John 53
Moncton 76
Halifax 61
St. John’s 79
Canada 71

The CMAs with the lowest CSIs continued to be Québec (45.2), Barrie (45.4) and Toronto (47.5), followed by Trois-Rivières (48.7). Between 2015 and 2016, Trois-Rivières reported a notable decline in both CSI (-14%) and crime rate (-13%) due to decreases in robbery, homicide and breaking and entering (Table 5). Trois-Rivières reported the lowest crime rate amongst CMAs in 2016. Prior to 2016, Québec and Toronto had consistently recorded the lowest police-reported crime rate.

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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 6 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 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

National violent Crime Severity Index virtually unchanged in 2016

In 2016, violent crimes continued to account for about one-fifth (20%) of all police-reported Criminal Code offences (excluding traffic). There were just under 381,600 police-reported violent incidents in 2016, about 500 fewer than the previous year. In 2016, the violent crime rate in Canada was 1,052 violent incidents per 100,000 population, which was 1% lower than in 2015 and 24% lower than a decade earlier (Table 1b). In this report, violent crime 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 

Rates for half of violent violations decreased between 2015 and 2016, with the largest decline reported for criminal harassment (-7%) (Table 6).

In terms of increases, the police reported a notable increase in the rate of sexual violations against children, which was up 30% from 2015. This increase may be partly attributable to changes in the determination of the most serious violation for these offences with the implementation of Bill C-26 in July 2015, which increased the maximum penalties for most types of sexual violations against children (see Text box 5). Crime statistics are reported based on the most serious offence as determined by the maximum penalty, therefore legislative changes such as Bill C-26, which increase maximum penalties, can contribute to an increase in official statistics for violations affected. While the number for most types of sexual violations against children rose in 2016, the greatest increase was reported for incidents of sexual interference which increased from 3,283 incidents in 2015 to 4,602 in 2016.

The other violent offences for which rates increased included violations causing death, other than homicide (+14%); the relatively new violations related to the commodification of sexual activity (+11%); aggravated sexual assault (+6%); forcible confinement or kidnapping (+4%); use of, discharge, and pointing of firearms (+3%); threatening or harassing phone calls (+3%); assault with a weapon or causing bodily harm (+1%), and; aggravated assault (+1%).

In 2016, the overall volume and severity of violent crime, as measured by the violent Crime Severity Index (CSI), was 75.3, virtually unchanged from 2015 (75.0) and 25% lower than in 2006.

Despite declines in violent CSI reported by British Columbia (-10%), Northwest Territories (-9%) and Alberta (-8%), the highest violent CSIs continued to be reported by the Territories and Western provinces (Table 2a).Note  Prince Edward Island which reported the lowest violent CSI (35.1) saw the largest decline (-16%) in 2016 due to decreases in homicide (from 1 in 2015 to 0 in 2016) and attempted murder (from 3 in 2015 to 0 in 2016) (see Text box 4). In contrast, the largest increases were reported by Manitoba (+10%) and Yukon (+9%). These were primarily due to more incidents of robbery in Manitoba, and more incidents of homicide (from 1 to 4) in Yukon.

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Text box 4
Violations contributing to the change in the violent Crime Severity Index (CSI) between 2015 and 2016, by province and territory

Text box 4
Violations contributing to the change in the violent Crime Severity Index (CSI) between 2015 and 2016, 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 2015 and 2016. The information is grouped by Province and territory (appearing as row headers), Percent change in CSI from 2015 to 2016 and Violations driving the change in violent CSI (appearing as column headers).
Province and territory Percent change in CSI from 2015 to 2016 Violations driving the change in violent CSI
Canada 0sNote: value rounded to 0 (zero) where there is a meaningful distinction between true zero and the value that was rounded Not applicable
Newfoundland and Labrador +8 Homicide, RobberyText box Note 1
Prince Edward Island -16 Homicide, Attempted murderText box Note 2
Nova Scotia -3 Robbery, Attempted murder
New Brunswick +5 Robbery, HomicideText box Note 3
Quebec -2 Robbery, HomicideText box Note 2
Ontario +7 Homicide, Robbery, Sexual violations against children
Manitoba +10 Robbery
Saskatchewan +7 Homicide, Attempted murder
Alberta -8 Robbery, Homicide
British Columbia -10 Robbery
Yukon +9 HomicideText box Note 3
Northwest Territories -9 Homicide, Sexual assault level 1
Nunavut +5 Sexual violations against children, Attempted murder

End of text box

The changes in the violent CSI varied across CMAs with 19 of 33 CMAs reporting increases between 2015 and 2016. The largest increases were reported in Brantford (+27%), Sherbrooke (+25%), Hamilton (+20%), Peterborough (+20%) and Winnipeg (+20%). The increase in Brantford was primarily due to an increase in homicide (from 0 in 2015 to 4 in 2016), while the increase in Hamilton was due to robbery and homicide. Winnipeg, Thunder Bay and Regina, which recorded the highest violent CSIs, saw increases of 20%, 4% and 14%, respectively (Chart 9). Kingston, which recorded the second lowest violent CSI after St. Catharines–Niagara, reported a 29% decline. Other notable declines were Trois-Rivières (-23%), Victoria (-18%), Calgary (-16%), Kelowna (-15%) and Vancouver (-14%). A decrease in robbery was the main contributor to the declines in violent CSI reported in Trois-Rivières, Calgary, Kelowna and Vancouver. However, a decrease in homicide drove the change in Victoria.

Chart 9

Data table 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 areaData table Note 1 Data table Note 2 Data table Note 3 Violent Crime Severity Index
Victoria 57
Vancouver 73
Abbotsford–Mission 82
Kelowna 63
Edmonton 103
Calgary 61
Saskatoon 114
Regina 124
Winnipeg 150
Thunder Bay 126
Greater Sudbury 61
Barrie 46
Windsor 58
London 59
Guelph 49
Brantford 88
Kitchener–Cambridge–Waterloo 60
St. Catharines–Niagara 38
Hamilton 66
Toronto 70
Peterborough 69
Kingston 38
OttawaData table Note 5 62
GatineauData table Note 4 64
Montréal 73
Trois-Rivières 46
Sherbrooke 56
Québec 51
Saguenay 68
Saint John 64
Moncton 79
Halifax 77
St. John’s 89
Canada 75

National homicide and attempted murder rates both decreased in 2016, but variation across the provinces and territories

In 2016, homicides represented less than 0.2% of all violent crimes. In total, police reported 611 homicides in Canada in 2016, 2 more than the previous year. Due to growth in Canada’s population, the homicide rate decreased 1% from 1.70 homicides per 100,000 population in 2015 to 1.68 homicides per 100,000 population in 2016 (Table 6, Chart 10). After a notable jump in 2015, the rate of homicides reported in 2016 is 15% higher than in 2014 and similar to the average for the previous decade (1.69 per 100,000 population).

Chart 10

Data table 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
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 1.70 2.17
2016 1.68 2.14

The relative stability in the national number of homicides is a result of notable declines in homicides in Alberta (-17 homicides), Quebec (-12) and British Columbia (-10) combined with the largest increases reported in Ontario (+32) and Saskatchewan (+10).

As has historically been the case, homicide rates were highest in the Western provinces and the Territories (Table 7, Chart 11). Saskatchewan (4.69 homicides per 100,000 population) continued to record the highest homicide rate among the provinces. While Manitoba (-12%) and Alberta (-14%) both reported decreases in their homicide rates, they followed Saskatchewan in terms of the highest rates among the provinces (3.19 and 2.73 per 100,000, respectively).

Chart 11

Data table 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), Homicide rate per 100,000 population (appearing as column headers).
Province and territory Homicide rate per 100,000 population
N.L. 1.32
P.E.I. 0.00
N.S. 1.37
N.B. 1.45
Que. 0.80
Ont. 1.47
Man. 3.19
Sask. 4.69
Alta. 2.73
B.C. 1.83
Y.T. 10.67
N.W.T. 6.75
Nvt. 2.70
Canada 1.68

Because of their small populations and relatively high homicide counts, 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 2016 with four homicides in Yukon (10.67 per 100,000 population), three homicides in the Northwest Territories (6.75 per 100,000 population), and one homicide in Nunavut (2.70 per 100,000 population).

Prince Edward Island was the only province to report no homicides in 2016. Following Prince Edward Island, the lowest homicide rates in 2016 were reported in Quebec (0.80 per 100,000 population), Newfoundland and Labrador (1.32 per 100,000 population), and Nova Scotia (1.37 per 100,000 population).

With a total of 8 homicides in 2016, Thunder Bay recorded the highest homicide rate among the census metropolitan areas (6.64 homicides per 100,000 population) (Table 8). Edmonton (with 47 homicides), and Regina (with 8 homicides) had the next highest homicide rates (3.39 and 3.23 per 100,000 population, respectively). In 2016, no homicides were reported in Trois-Rivières, Kingston or Greater Sudbury.

The attempted murder rate in Canada declined 1% between 2015 and 2016 to 2.14 per 100,000 population. In total, there were 777 attempted murders reported by police in 2016, the same number as in 2015. 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). However, variations were reported across the country. While New Brunswick, Alberta, Nova Scotia and British Columbia reported notable decreases in 2016, notable increases were seen in Saskatchewan and Manitoba.

Increase in rate of major physical assault in 2016

Physical assault continued to be the most prevalent form of police-reported violent crime in Canada in 2016, accounting for close to 6 in 10 (58%) violent offences reported by police. Police reported about 220,000 assaults in 2016, most of which (71%) were classified as common assaults (level 1).Note  The rate of common assault declined by 2% between 2015 and 2016. The rates of major assault, which includes aggravated assault (level 3) and assault with a weapon or causing bodily harm (level 2) both increased 1%. Other categories of assault include assault against a peace officer (no significant change in rate), and other forms of assault (e.g., unlawfully causing bodily harm) (-6%) (Table 6).

After decreasing steadily since 2008, the national rate of major assault (levels 2 and 3) increased for the second consecutive year due to higher rates reported in New Brunswick (+12%), Manitoba (+10%) and Ontario (+4%) (Chart 12, Table 7). Manitoba and Saskatchewan continued to report the highest rate of major assault among the provinces (380 and 370 per 100,000 population, respectively). These rates are approximately double the rates of the other Western provinces and more than three times the rates of the provinces in the east. The largest declines were reported in Newfoundland and Labrador (-6%), British Columbia (-3%), Alberta (-2%), Nova Scotia (-1%), and Saskatchewan (-1%).

Chart 12

Data table 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
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
2016 60 143

Police-reported robbery rate lower in 2016

After a general downward trend since 2006 and a slight increase in 2015, the rate of robbery decreased 3% in 2016 (60 robberies per 100,000 population) (Chart 12, Table 6). Police reported approximately 22,000 robberies in 2016, about 350 fewer than the year before. Nunavut (-48%), British Columbia (-20%) and Nova Scotia (-16%) reported the largest declines in rate between 2015 and 2016.

Since 1998, the earliest year for which comparable data is available, Manitoba has consistently recorded the highest rate of police-reported robbery. In 2016, the rate of police reported robberies in Manitoba increased 21% to 156 per 100,000 population, largely due to increases in Winnipeg—this is almost double the rate of Saskatchewan (86 per 100,000 population) which reported the second highest rate in 2016. In 2016, New Brunswick (+47%) had the largest increase in the rate of robbery but was still amongst the provinces and territories with the lowest rate (30 per 100,000 population). In addition to New Brunswick, low rates of robbery were reported in Prince Edward Island (12 per 100,000 population), Nunavut (27 per 100,000 population) and Nova Scotia (29 per 100,000 population).

As with other police-reported crimes, changes in rates of robbery varied considerably by census metropolitan area (CMA) (Table 8). Notably large increases in robbery rates were reported in Moncton (+62%), Saint John (+48%), Gatineau (+44%), and Barrie (+28%). Trois-Rivières reported the largest decline (-66%) in 2016 and the lowest rate of robbery among the CMAs at 12 robberies per 100,000 population. Other CMAs with lower robbery rates in 2016 were Saguenay (16 per 100,000), Kingston (18 per 100,000), Québec (19 per 100,000) and Sherbrooke (19 per 100,000). In contrast, the highest rate of robbery continued to be recorded in Winnipeg at 229 robberies per 100,000 population. This is 27% higher than the rate reported in Winnipeg in 2015.

Rate of police-reported sexual assaults down slightly in 2016

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 2016, there were about 21,000 police-reported sexual assaults. The rate of sexual assault in 2016 was 58 per 100,000 population, 1% lower than in 2015 and 15% lower than a decade previously (Chart 13). The majority (98%) were classified as level 1 sexual assault. Between 2015 and 2016, the rate of police-reported sexual assault level 1 declined 1% to 57 per 100,000 population. The rates of sexual assault with a weapon or causing bodily harm also declined by 1% with a total of 379 incidents reported in 2016, or a rate of 1 per 100,000 population. In contrast, the rate for aggravated sexual assault increased 6% in 2016, with 111 incidents (8 more than in 2015) (Table 6).

Chart 13

Data table 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), Sexual assault, calculated using rate per 100,000 population units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Year Sexual assault
rate per 100,000 population
1986 79
1987 85
1988 93
1989 98
1990 101
1991 108
1992 121
1993 121
1994 109
1995 96
1996 91
1997 90
1998 85
1999 78
2000 78
2001 78
2002 78
2003 74
2004 72
2005 73
2006 68
2007 65
2008 65
2009 62
2010 66
2011 64
2012 63
2013 60
2014 58
2015 58
2016 58

Between 2015 and 2016, the rate of police-reported sexual assaults (all levels combined) declined in most provinces and territories with the exception of Saskatchewan (+6%), Quebec (+5%), Manitoba (+4%) and British Columbia (+3%). The largest declines were reported in Northwest Territories, Newfoundland and Labrador and New Brunswick (-18%, -15% and -12%, respectively).

The Territories reported the highest rates of sexual assault in 2016 followed by Manitoba (109 per 100,000) and Saskatchewan (104 per 100,000). In contrast, the lowest rates were reported in Prince Edward Island (47 per 100,000), New Brunswick (49 per 100,000) and Quebec (49 per 100,000).

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 6).

Further, in early 2017, Canadian media highlighted variations in how police record sexual assaults as unfounded, which may also have had an impact on official statistics (see Text box 6).

Police-reported sexual violations against children increased in 2016

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: sexual interference; invitation to sexual touching; sexual exploitation; making sexually explicit material available to children; parent or guardian procuring sexual activity; householder permitting sexual activity and luring a child via a computer, which includes agreement or arrangement to commit a sexual offence against child. These are grouped within the Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Survey as “sexual violations against children”.Note 

In 2016, there were 6,917 incidents of sexual violations against children reported by police: the majority (67% or 4,602 incidents) of these were sexual interference, followed by luring a child via a computer (21% or 1,295 incidents). Between 2015 and 2016, the rate of police-reported sexual violations against children increased 30% from 15 to 19 incidents per 100,000 population. Since 2010, when full data for these offences became available, the rate of sexual violations against children has increased 76% due to a general upward trend. However, 2016 accounts for the largest reported increase.

It is important to note that at least part of the increase reported in 2016 can be attributed to legislative changes (Bill C-26) to the maximum sentences for these offences which thereby affects the determination by police of the most serious violation in the incident (see Text box 5). In the UCR Survey, the most serious violation is partially determined by the maximum penalty, and official statistics are based on the most serious violation in an incident. While the number for most types of sexual violations against children rose in 2016, the greatest increase was reported for incidents of sexual interference which increased from 3,283 incidents in 2015 to 4,602 in 2016.

It is also 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, sexual offences against children can be delayed in coming to the attention of the police and those reported may have occurred in previous years (Cotter and Beaupré 2012).

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  , Note  In 2016, the number and rate of child pornography incidents continued to rise, up from 4,380 incidents in 2015 to 6,245 incidents in 2016. As a result, the rate increased by 41%, to 17 incidents per 100,000 population in 2016. This is 233% higher than the rate reported in 2006. 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 Vancouver in 2016, a 124% increase in these offences was reported by this jurisdiction in 2016.

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Text box 5
Legislative changes

Bill C-26

On July 17th, 2015, Bill C-26, the Tougher Penalties for Child Predators Act came into effect. This legislation increased the maximum penalties for the following sexual offences against children: sexual interference; invitation to sexual touching; sexual exploitation; making sexually explicit material available to children; luring a child via a computer, and; agreement or arrangement to commit a sexual offence against child. In the Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Survey, the most serious violation is partially determined by the maximum penalty. As such, changes in maximum penalty may affect the determination of the most serious violation in an incident reported by police. Specifically, the maximum penalty for these offences increased to 14 years. By comparison, the maximum penalty for sexual assault level 1 remained at 10 years. This change has an impact on incidents where both a sexual assault and a sexual violation against a child are reported, for example.

Bill C-36

On December 6, 2014, Bill C-36, the Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act came into effect. The Bill responded to the Supreme Court of Canada’s 2013 Attorney General of Canada v. BedfordNote  decision which found the laws surrounding prostitution offences to be unconstitutional. One of the objectives of the new legislation was “protecting sex workers, 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 

As a result, provisions were amended and new prostitution-related offences were created. 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.

Bill C-13

On March 10, 2015, Bill C-13, the Protecting Canadians from Online Crime Act came into effect. The legislation introduced the new offence of non-consensual distribution of intimate images, making it illegal to knowingly publish, distribute, transmit, sell, advertise or make available an intimate image of another person, knowing that the person does not consent.

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Second year of reporting new offences related to the commodification of sexual activity shows increases

In 2016, there were 708 police-reported incidents related to the commodification of sexual activity (categorized as a crime against the person). Compared to 2015, which was the first full year following Bill C-36 legislation changes, the rate of offences related to the commodification of sexual activity increased 11% (see Text box 5). Most types of offences related to the commodification of sexual activity increased between 2015 and 2016. However, the change was primarily driven by an additional 51 police-reported incidents of procuring and an additional 25 incidents of obtaining sexual services for consideration reported in 2016.

Like offences related to the commodification of sexual activity, prostitution offences (categorized as non-violent crime) increased in the second full year of reporting following Bill C-36 legislation changes (see Text box 5). In all, 219 incidents of prostitution were reported in 2016, marking a rate of 1 per 100,000 and a rate that was 44% higher than the previous year. The change was driven by an increase from 31 incidents to 119 incidents of communicating to provide sexual services for consideration.

Non-consensual distribution of intimate images a relatively new crime and reports have grown

In 2016, the rate for the relatively new violation of non-consensual distribution of intimate images, enacted in March 2015 with Bill C-13 increased 137% (see Text box 5). In 2016, police reported 815 such incidents, compared to 340 in 2015. This is likely due not only to 2016 being the first full year of data, but, as with many new criminal offences, the growing recognition and application by police. The new offence criminalizes publishing, distributing, selling, making available or advertising intimate images without the consent of the person depicted in the image. Reported violations increased from 2015 to 2016 in almost all provinces, with Quebec and Ontario accounting for the largest volume of growth. In Quebec, the number of incidents increased from 53 to 186, while in Ontario reported incidents grew from 114 to 286.

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Text box 6
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 on their perceptions of crime. 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 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.

Lastly, recent national attention highlighting variations in how police classify reports of sexual assault as unfounded or founded in their crime statistics may also be contributing to the differences in trends between the surveys. Based on the current UCR definition, an incident is considered ‘founded’ if, after police investigation, it has been determined that a violation took place, even if a person against whom there is enough evidence to lay a charge is unknown. An incident reported to police is classified as ‘unfounded’ if it has been determined through police investigation that the criminal offence reported did not occur, nor was it attempted. Given the policing community’s agreement in April 2017 to reinstate the standardized collection and provision of data on unfounded criminal incidents, Statistics Canada will once again collect and release data on such incidents, including sexual assaults.Note  Statistics Canada will also provide standards and guidelines to police services to ensure standardized reporting of unfounded incidents to the Uniform Crime Reporting Survey. The implementation of these changes will be phased in over time. In July 2018, Statistics Canada will publish the first set of results on unfounded criminal incidents for 2017, including sexual assaults, and assess the impact of revised reporting on the incidents of crime and clearance rates.

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%), or that the incident was a private matter and was handled informally (43%).Note 

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, 2014” (Boyce 2016).

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Non-violent crime

Police-reported non-violent crime increases in volume and severity

In 2016, Canada’s non-violent Crime Severity Index (CSI), which includes all federal statutes and traffic offences, increased 2% (Table 1a). The primary offence that contributed to this increase was fraud which increased in almost all provinces and territories. Other offences which reported large increases, but had less of an impact on the non-violent CSI, included administration of justice offences and child pornography.

Between 2015 and 2016, the provincial and territorial changes to non-violent CSI varied. Saskatchewan (+9%) and Manitoba (+7%) reported the largest increases in non-violent CSI, due to high levels of breaking and entering and fraud (Text box 7). An increase in mischief also contributed to the increase in the non-violent CSI in Manitoba. Saskatchewan (149.5 per 100,000) and Manitoba (100.3 per 100,000) along with the other Western provinces also reported the highest non-violent CSI in 2016 amongst the provinces. Overall, the Territories reported the highest non-violent CSIs, as is generally the case (Table 2a). In contrast, Ontario and Quebec reported the lowest non-violent CSIs. The largest declines in non-violent CSI were reported by Northwest Territories (-9%), New Brunswick (-4%) and Yukon (-4%). Fewer incidents of breaking and entering was a driver for all provinces and territories which reported decreases in non-violent CSI. A decrease in incidents of mischief and breaking and entering were the main drivers for Northwest Territories’ 9% decline in non-violent CSI in 2016.

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Text box 7
Violations contributing to the change in the non-violent Crime Severity Index (CSI) between 2015 and 2016, by province and territory

Text box 7
Violations contributing to the change in the non-violent Crime Severity Index (CSI) between 2015 and 2016, 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 2015 and 2016. The information is grouped by Province and territory (appearing as row headers), Percent change in CSI from 2015 to 2016 and Violations driving the change in the non-violent CSI (appearing as column headers).
Province and territory Percent change in CSI from 2015 to 2016 Violations driving the change in the non-violent CSI
Canada +2 Fraud
Newfoundland and Labrador +4 Fraud, Breaking and enteringText box Note 1
Prince Edward Island +1 FraudText box Note 2
Nova Scotia -2 Breaking and enteringText box Note 3
New Brunswick -4 Theft of $5,000 or under, Fraud, Breaking and entering
Quebec -3 Breaking and entering, Theft of $5,000 or underText box Note 3
Ontario +3 Fraud
Manitoba +7 Breaking and entering, Mischief, Fraud
Saskatchewan +9 Fraud, Breaking and entering
Alberta +1 Fraud, Theft of $5,000 or under, Administration of justice violationsText box Note 4
British Columbia +2 Child pornography, Fraud, Theft of $5,000 or underText box Note 2
Yukon -4 Breaking and enteringText box Note 3
Northwest Territories -9 Mischief, Breaking and entering
Nunavut +4 Breaking and entering, Administration of justice violationsText box Note 1

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As with the violent CSI, changes in the non-violent CSI varied considerably among Canada’s CMAs in 2016 (Table 3). The largest increases in the non-violent CSI occurred in Regina (+15%), Winnipeg (+14%), Guelph (+12%) and Greater Sudbury (+12%), all mainly due to increased levels of breaking and entering. In addition to breaking and entering, fraud and theft of $5,000 or under drove the change in Regina and Guelph. Likewise, breaking and entering was a driver in the CMAs which reported the largest declines in non-violent CSI. Trois-Rivières (-10%) and Victoria (-9%) reported decreases to their non-violent CSI resulting from fewer police-reported incidents of breaking and entering in 2016.

Total fraud increased in 2016, growing for the fifth year in a row

In 2016, 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 Criminal Code incidents (excluding traffic). In total, there were over 1.5 million police-reported non-violent Criminal Code incidents in 2016 (excluding traffic), of which 1.2 million were property crimes (Table 1b). The rate of property crime remained stable between 2015 and 2016, decreasing slightly from 3,218 per 100,000 to 3,207 per 100,000.

While the rates of the majority of property crimes decreased between 2015 and 2016, increases in total fraud were recorded for the fifth consecutive year (Table 6). The rate of police-reported incidents of total fraud, which includes general fraud, identity fraud and identity theft, was 14% higher than in 2015. While the rate of general fraud grew 14%, rates for identity fraud increased 16% and identify theft grew 21%.

In 2016, increases in total fraud were reported by all provinces and territories, except the Northwest Territories (-12%) and New Brunswick (-12%) (Table 7). The largest increases were reported in Prince Edward Island (+66%), Nunavut (+61%) and Saskatchewan (+37%). Saskatchewan experienced the highest rate of total fraud (616 per 100,000) and Nunavut reported the lowest (216 per 100,000).

Increases in total fraud were reported by 28 of 33 census metropolitan areas. The only exceptions to the national increase were Saint John (-13%), Moncton (-6%), Windsor (-3%), Hamilton (-2%) and Halifax (-1%). The largest increases were reported in Greater Sudbury (+47%), Regina (+42%), Thunder Bay (+31%), Abbotsford-Mission (+30%), Saguenay (+29%) and Brantford (+29%). The increases are partly attributed to more police-reported incidents of Canada Revenue Agency scams and may also be due to an increased awareness of cybercrime in general.

Decrease in rate of breaking and entering

Breaking and entering continued to be one of the most common forms of property crime in 2016, following the less serious violations of theft of $5,000 or under and mischief. In 2016, just over 159,000 incidents of breaking and entering were reported to police, accounted for 14% of property crime. Since peaking in 1991, the police-reported rate of breaking and entering had been generally declining in Canada, with only three increases reported in 1996, 2003 and 2015 (Chart 14). In 2016, the rate declined 2% nationally to 439 per 100,000 population. In 2006, the rate of breaking and entering was 43% higher and accounted for 16% of all police-reported property crime.

Chart 14

Data table 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), 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
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 445 220
2016 439 217

Most provinces and territories reported declines in rates of breaking and entering. Prince Edward Island (-25%), Yukon (-16%) and Northwest Territories (-15%) reported the largest declines (Table 7). The provinces and territories which reported increases were Saskatchewan (+7%), Manitoba (+6%), Nunavut (+6%) and Newfoundland and Labrador (+5%). All other provinces and territories reported declines including Alberta which declined 1% after reporting a 35% increase in 2015.

Declines in motor vehicle theft in most census metropolitan areas

There were almost 79,000 incidents of motor vehicle theft reported by police in 2016, resulting in a rate of 217 per 100,000 population. Between 2015 and 2016, the rate of motor vehicle theft in Canada declined 1%. Despite the increases reported over the last two years, the rate of motor vehicle theft in Canada was 55% lower than a decade previously (Chart 14).

Six provinces and territories reported increases in rates of motor vehicle theft. Large increases were reported in Yukon (+22%), Nunavut (+18%) and Saskatchewan (+15%) and smaller increases were reported in Newfoundland and Labrador (+4%), Ontario (+2%) and New Brunswick (+1%). All other provinces and territories reported no change or a decrease in rate. Prince Edward Island continued to report the lowest rate of motor vehicle theft (60 per 100,000) followed by the other Atlantic provinces (Table 7). The highest rate continued to be reported by Alberta (536 per 100,000) followed by Northwest Territories (526 per 100,000) and Saskatchewan (492 per 100,000).

Most census metropolitan areas (CMAs) reported declines in motor vehicle theft (Table 8). Gatineau (-28%), Trois-Rivières (-25%) and Greater Sudbury (-17%) reported relatively large declines. In contrast, notably large increases were reported in Guelph (+49%) and Saskatchewan’s two CMAs, Regina (+17%) and Saskatoon (+16%). Calgary, which accounted for most of the increase in motor vehicle theft reported in Alberta in 2015, reported no change in 2016. Edmonton, Alberta’s other CMA, saw another annual increase in motor vehicle theft (+10%) in 2016.

Police-reported impaired driving rate down for fifth consecutive year

Police reported just about 70,500 alcohol or drug impaired driving incidents in 2016, about 1,400 fewer than the year before. The rate of impaired driving decreased by 3% in 2016 to 194 impaired driving incidents per 100,000 population, representing the fifth consecutive decline in five years (Chart 15).

Chart 15

Data table 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), Impaired driving, calculated using rate per 100,000 population units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Year Impaired driving
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 200
2016 194

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 2016). Almost all police-reported impaired driving incidents continued to involve alcohol in 2016 (96%), while a small proportion (4%) involved drugs.

Unlike the overall decline in impaired driving between 2015 and 2016, the number and rate for almost all drug impaired driving violations increased (Chart 16). In total, there were 3,098 drug impaired driving violations in 2016, 343 more than the previous year. Overall, the rate for drug-impaired driving increased 11%. The national increase in rates was largely driven by increases in Ontario (+38%), British Columbia (+29%) and Quebec (+10%). Declines were reported in Yukon, Manitoba, Nova Scotia, Saskatchewan, New Brunswick and Nunavut.

Chart 16

Data table 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), Drug impaired driving, calculated using rate per 100,000 population units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Year Drug impaired driving
rate per 100,000 population
2008 1
2009 4
2010 5
2011 5
2012 6
2013 6
2014 7
2015 8
2016 9

Despite an 11% increase in rate, the rate of drug impaired driving (8.5 per 100,000 population) remained low compared with the rate of alcohol impaired driving (186 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). In incidents where the driver may be impaired by both alcohol and drugs, it is generally easier for police to lay charges for alcohol-impaired driving and the majority of cases are reported as such (Perreault 2016).

Despite the national decline in police-reported impaired driving rates, among the provinces, Prince Edward Island (+24%) and Manitoba (+19%) reported increases between 2015 and 2016. All other provinces reported declines with the exception of Newfoundland and Labrador which remained stable. Yukon was the only territory to record a decline in its impaired driving rate between 2015 and 2016, as both Nunavut and Northwest Territories recorded increases (+23% each).

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 (Perreault 2016).

Rate of cannabis-related offences declines for fifth 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 2016, there were about 95,400 CDSA offences reported by police, representing a rate of 263 per 100,000 population (Table 6). Of these, more than half (58%) were cannabis-related offences.

Currently, possession, trafficking, importation and exportation, and production of cannabis for non-medical purposes falls under the CDSA and are illegal in Canada. However, in June 2016 a task force was assembled to consult and provide advice on creating new legislation legalizing and regulating cannabis in Canada (McLellan et al. 2016). On April 13, 2017, Bill C-45, An Act respecting cannabis and to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, the Criminal Code and other Acts (the Cannabis Act), was formally introduced in the House of Commons. The Act provides the legal framework which will legalize and regulate the production, distribution, sale and possession of cannabis in Canada (Parliament of Canada 2017).

For the last 5 years, police-reported rates of cannabis-related drug offences have been declining in Canada (Chart 17). In 2016, there were about 55,000 cannabis-related drug offences reported to police, about 6,000 less than reported in 2015. The majority of these offences (81%) were possession offences which represented a rate of 122 per 100,000 population, 12% lower than in 2015.

Chart 17

Data table 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), Cannabis, Cocaine and Other drugs , calculated using rate per 100,000 population units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Year CannabisData table Note 1 CocaineData table Note 1 Other drugsData table Note 1 Data table Note 2
rate per 100,000 population
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 170 43 66
2016 151 39 72

Nationally, the rate of cannabis possession fell 12% with almost all provinces and territories reporting declines in 2016. The exceptions to the national decline were Prince Edward Island (+15%), New Brunswick (+7%) and Quebec which reported no change. The largest declines in rate of possession of cannabis were reported in the Territories, Alberta (-25%), Manitoba (-18%), Saskatchewan (-16%) and Ontario (-16%). British Columbia reported the smallest decline (-13%) among the Western provinces and the highest rate among all provinces (232 per 100,000 population). The lowest police-reported rates of possession of cannabis were recorded in Manitoba (66 per 100,000) and Prince Edward Island (77 per 100,000).

National declines were also reported in incidents of trafficking of cannabis (-8%) and production of cannabis (-2%). In contrast, an increase of 8% was reported in the rate of importation and exportation of cannabis. Decreases in the rate of total cannabis-related offences were reported in almost all provinces and territories with the largest declines recorded in the Territories and Western provinces. Prince Edward Island (+20%) and New Brunswick (+5%) were the only jurisdictions to report increases in cannabis-related offences. Quebec reported no change.

Along with the decline in cannabis offences, the number of persons charged has also been declining. In 2016, the rate of persons charged with a cannabis related offence declined 16% from 2015. Of the 23,329 people charged with cannabis-related offences in 2016, 17,733 (76%) were charged with possession of cannabis, about 3,600 less than in 2015. Declines in rates of persons charged with possession of cannabis were reported by almost all provinces and territories in 2016. Newfoundland and Labrador (+28%) and Prince Edward Island (+10%) reported the only increases. Despite reporting the only increases, these provinces reported the lowest rates of persons charged with possession of cannabis among the provinces and territories (22 and 20 per 100,000, respectively). In contrast, the highest rates of persons charged with possession of cannabis were reported in Saskatchewan (71 per 100,000) and Quebec (67 per 100,000).

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

Similar to the trend in cannabis related offences, most forms of cocaine drug offences continued to decline in 2016 for the fourth consecutive year dropping 8% from 2015 to a rate of 39 incidents per 100,000 population (Table 7, Chart 17). In contrast, the combined rate of possession, trafficking, production and distribution of drugs other than cannabis and cocaine has been increasing since 2010. Between 2015 and 2016, the most notable increases were reported for possession of heroin (+32%); possession of methamphetamines (+22%); trafficking, production or distribution of heroin (+15%) and; trafficking, production or distribution of methamphetamines (+10%). In addition, there was a 7% increase in possession of “other drugs” such as prescription drugs (including opioids such as Fentanyl), LSD, and “date rape” drugs. The exceptions to the national increase were possession of methylenedioxyamphetamine (commonly known as ecstasy) (-40%); trafficking, and production or distribution of methylenedioxyamphetamine (-18%), and trafficking, production or distribution of “other drugs” (-3%).

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.

Police-reported youth crime

Fewer youth accused of crime in 2016

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  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 88,000 youth accused of a criminal offence in 2016, about 5,000 fewer than in the previous year. Of the youth accused of a criminal offence in 2016, 45% were formally charged by police, while the remaining 55% were dealt with by other means. 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 18).

Chart 18

Data table for Chart 18
Data table for Chart 18
Table summary
This table displays the results of Data table for Chart 18. 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 chargedData table Note 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 2,234 2,925
2013 1,971 2,426
2014 1,788 2,256
2015 1,760 2,245
2016 1,692 2,103

Youth Crime Severity Index down in most provinces and territories

The Youth Crime Severity Index (youth CSI), which measures both the volume and severity of crime involving youth accused (both charged and not charged), declined 2% in 2016 (Table 9a). The youth non-violent CSI decreased 8% while the youth violent CSI increased 5% between 2015 and 2016. Since 2008, the youth CSI has generally been on a downward trend and the youth CSI in 2016 is the lowest reported youth CSI since 1998, the first year for which youth CSI data is available (Chart 19). The decline in youth crime has been greater than for crime overall. The youth CSI in 2016 was 40% lower than a decade ago; in contrast, the overall crime rate (which includes crime committed by youth) fell 28% over the same period.

Chart 19

Data table for Chart 19
Data table for Chart 19
Table summary
This table displays the results of Data table for Chart 19. 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 87
1999 99 84
2000 104 89
2001 106 91
2002 101 87
2003 106 93
2004 101 88
2005 97 94
2006 100 100
2007 101 102
2008 96 96
2009 96 97
2010 90 93
2011 82 87
2012 77 82
2013 66 71
2014 61 65
2015 61 67
2016 60 71

Between 2015 and 2016, the youth CSI declined in almost all provinces and territories. The largest declines were reported in Yukon (-28%), Alberta (-15%) and Prince Edward Island (-12%) (Table 11). Prince Edward Island had the country’s lowest youth CSI in 2016 at 30.7 per 100,000 population. Among the provinces, as with crime overall, Saskatchewan and Manitoba continued to report the highest youth CSIs (170.2 and 113.1, respectively).

The exceptions to the national decline were Nova Scotia (+8%), Ontario (+4%) and Quebec (+4%), which were also the only provinces to report increases in youth violent CSI, driving the national increase. All provinces and territories reported decreases or no change in youth non-violent CSI.

The police-reported youth crime rate, which measures the volume of crime committed by youth, also decreased between 2015 and 2016 by 5% reaching a rate of 3,795 per 100,000 population (Table 10a). This is the seventh consecutive decline since 2010 and largely the result of a 10% decrease in the rate of youth accused of property crimes (Table 9b). All provinces and territories reported declines in rates of youth accused of property crimes in 2016. The rate of youth accused of the most common forms of property crimes, mischief (-13%), motor vehicle theft (-13%), breaking and entering (-11%), theft of $5000 or under (-8%) were all lower than in 2015 (Table 10b). Likewise, the rate of youth accused of drug crime declined to a rate of 477 per 100,000, 14% lower than 2015 but still higher than the national rate (263 per 100,000 population). The rate of youth accused of cannabis possession was down 15% in 2016, all other cannabis related offences (trafficking, production or distribution) were lower or the same as in 2015.

Youth violent Crime Severity Index increases for second year in a row

While the national rate of youth accused of violent crimes remained stable in 2016, the severity and volume of violent crime, measured by the youth violent Crime Severity Index (CSI), increased 5%. This is the second consecutive increase in youth violent CSI reported after consecutive declines from 2010 to 2014. In contrast, the youth non-violent CSI has steadily decreased over the same seven years. The increase in youth violent CSI in 2016 was driven by more youth accused of attempted murder, robbery and sexual violations against children.

Most provinces and territories reported decreases in youth violent CSI except Nova Scotia (+25%), Quebec (+16%), Yukon (+15%) and Ontario (+14%) which drove the national increase. The increase in Nova Scotia was primarily due to an increase in homicide (from 0 in 2015 to 2 in 2016) and attempted murder (from 1 in 2015 to 8 in 2016). In Quebec the increase was due to an additional 114 youth accused of robbery (from 383 in 2015 to 497 in 2016). In Ontario the increase was driven by more youth accused of robbery and sexual violations against children in 2016.

For the second consecutive year, increases at the national level were reported in the rate of youth accused of sexual violations against children (+38%), forcible confinement or kidnapping (+36%), other violent violations (+21%), threatening or harassing phone calls (+19%), and assault against a peace officer (+3%). Other increases in the rate of youth accused in 2016 included: other violations causing death (+200%, from 2 accused in 2015 to 6 in 2016), offences related to the commodification of sexual activity (+134%, from 9 accused in 2015 to 21 in 2016), attempted murder (+115%, from 42 accused in 2015 to 90 in 2016), sexual assault with a weapon or causing bodily harm (+84%, from 31 accused in 2015 to 57 in 2016), robbery (+6%, from 2,446 accused in 2015 to 2,595 in 2016) and criminal harassment (+1%, from 1,000 accused in 2015 to 1,007 in 2016). The rate of youth accused for all other violent violations declined or remained the same in 2016.

Summary

In 2016, the police-reported Crime Severity Index (CSI) increased 1% while the crime rate remained relatively stable in Canada. All of Canada’s provinces and territories reported decreases or no change in their CSI except Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Newfoundland and Labrador, Ontario and Nunavut.

Despite the slight increase in CSI overall, Canada’s violent CSI remained stable in 2016. This was due to fewer incidents of robbery offset by an increase in sexual violations against children. Canada’s non-violent CSI increased due to a higher number of police-reported incidents of fraud. Half of the types of violent crimes decreased in rate in 2016 including homicide and attempted murder. Sexual violations against children, other violations causing death, offences related to the commodification of sexual activity and aggravated sexual assault were among the few violent offences to record increases.

Canada’s youth CSI and non-violent CSI declined in 2016. The rate of youth accused of drug crimes and the most common forms of property crimes all declined in 2016. In contrast, the youth violent CSI rose in 2016 due to increases in youth accused in police-reported incidents of attempted murder, robbery and sexual violations against children.

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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.

“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.

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 2016 crime statistics are released, the 2015 data are updated with any revisions that have been made between May 2016 and May 2017. The data are revised only once and are then permanently frozen. Over the past 12 years (2004 to 2015), data corresponding to previous years have been revised upward 9 times and revised downward 3 times, with an average annual revision of 0.19%. The 2015 revision to counts of persons charged and youth not charged resulted in a 0.5% increase to 2015 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).

In 2008, the Uniform Crime Reporting Survey was modified to create new violation codes for drug impaired operation of a vehicle, drug impaired operation of a vehicle causing death or bodily harm, failure or refusal to comply with testing for the presence of drugs and failure or refusal to provide a breath or blood sample. Prior to 2008, those offences would have been coded together with alcohol impaired driving violations. Therefore, the percentage change from 2006 to 2016 is not shown.

Detailed data tables

Table 1a Police-reported Crime Severity Indexes, Canada, 2006 to 2016

Table 1b Police-reported crime rate, Canada, 2006 to 2016

Table 2a Police-reported Crime Severity Indexes, by province and territory, 2016

Table 2b Police-reported crime rate, by province and territory, 2016

Table 3 Police-reported Crime Severity Indexes, by census metropolitan area, 2016

Table 4 Police-reported crime rate, by census metropolitan area, 2016

Table 5 Violations contributing to the change in the Crime Severity Index between 2015 and 2016, by census metropolitan area

Table 6 Police-reported crime for selected offences, Canada, 2015 and 2016

Table 7 Police-reported crime for selected offences, by province and territory, 2016

Table 8 Police-reported crime for selected offences, by census metropolitan area, 2016

Table 9a Police-reported youth Crime Severity Indexes, Canada, 2006 to 2016

Table 9b Youth accused of police-reported crime, Canada, 2006 to 2016

Table 10a Police-reported youth crime, by selected violent offences, by province and territory, 2016

Table 10b Police-reported youth crime, by selected non-violent offences, by province and territory, 2016

Table 11 Police-reported youth Crime Severity Indexes, by province and territory, 2016

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