Police in Quebec have long been among the worst* in Canada at solving murders. Now, one man – bolstered by decades of meticulous research – is challenging this futility with a demand for an inquiry and the formation of a cross-departmental, province-wide cold case squad. John Allore charges that Quebec police are “completely incompetent.” He knows this, he says, because of his dogged research into more than 20 unsolved killings from the 1970s and 80s, including the murder of his 19-year-old sister Theresa. Allore says police deliberately refused to investigate those cases, so he did. Allore uncovered glaring failures in the investigation of Theresa’s November 1978 murder in a small community 150 kilometres east of Montreal. Police wrongly first labelled her death an accident or suicide, fumbled the search for missing clothing and possessions and later discarded important physical evidence that could help identify her killer. More than 37 years after Theresa was killed, the unsolved murder has just been added to the website of the Quebec provincial police force’s cold case unit, thanks to John Allore’s persistence. But he’s not done. Allore (hear him in the Cancrime podcast, after the jump) is pressing for co-operation among departments with unsolved cases that could be connected. His remarkable research and sharp criticism have attracted the attention of senior police officials in Quebec and given hope to families of other victims.
Despite an enormous infusion of cash in the past decade, the agency that runs the country’s penitentiaries has failed to deliver on longstanding promises to reduce prisoner deaths and has failed to limit critical security incidents that endanger staff and inmates, a newly released report card on the operations of Correctional Service of Canada reveals. “I continue to be very frustrated that CSC continues to deal with deaths in custody as sort of one-off events and not paying enough attention to the patterns and the common issues that contribute,” says Howard Sapers (inset), the federal correctional investigator. (Hear the full interview with Sapers, after the jump, in Episode 1 of the Cancrime podcast).
Halloween crime is still a problem for police across Canada, according to Statistics Canada. The national number crunching agency has released another analysis of scary crime data showing that during Halloween 2014, property crime reports to police skyrocketed roughly 52 per cent from a week earlier. Other crimes spiked, but not at the dramatic rate for property offences. Across all categories, crime reports to police increased 4.5 per cent at Halloween 2014.
They come with more caveats than an over-the-counter libido booster, but Canada’s national crime statistics will be delivered Wednesday, July 22. The Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, a branch of Statistics Canada, will reveal its yearly compilation of data, part of the Juristat, from which much will be inferred that should not or can not. Much will be written that misleads, misinterprets and miscalculates what the numbers tell us. There’s much more that these frail figures do not tell us than what they reveal.
There’s a perplexing – perhaps alarming – statistic in new national crime figures released today by Statistics Canada. The numbers show that Kingston, in eastern Ontario, now has the highest sexual assault rate of the 33 biggest Canadian urban centres in StatsCan’s crime survey. The sexual assault rate in Kingston (the number of crimes reported to police, factored for population) skyrocketed by 34 per cent from 2011 to 2012. The rate in Kingston for 2012 is 97. Winnipeg, now the most violent city in Canada overall, based on the latest violent crime severity index, is second to Kingston in sexual assault rate at 91.
Carmen Robinson should be 56, a greying boomer, perhaps an early retiree discovering the joy of life untethered from the daily grind. Time to sip mid morning lattes. Time to lounge with a favourite book. Time for family. Instead, Carmen (inset) is a smiling snapshot, a memory, a life with no conclusion. She also is a statistic, one of thousands of unsolved murders that have been accumulating in Canada in the past half century. Carmen was just 17 when she stepped off a bus a few blocks from her home in Victoria, British Columbia, on December 8, 1973. She vanished and was, it is presumed, murdered. Her body has not been found and her killer remains unknown.
There’s plenty of intriguing and heartening news in the latest national crime report. This week, Statistics Canada released its annual compendium of data, based on information provided to hundreds of police departments across the country. Many media reports seized on the simple, big-picture stats: the overall crime rate reached its lowest level since the early 1970s. It would be wrong to key on this as the most important finding. It may be the least useful statistic and likely tells us absolutely nothing about whether the true level of crime has declined in the past 40 years and whether communities are any safer now than they were in the 70s.
Canada’s penitentiary capital, home to some of the country’s vilest (incarcerated) citizens, is now home to the nation’s top crime busters, according to Statistics Canada. The national number crunching agency has released its annual report (full doc after the jump) that tracks the size, spending and crime-solving prowess of all of the country’s police departments. The municipal police service in Kingston, Ontario, population roughly 120,000, solved 47.8% of the roughly 7,300 crimes reported in 2009, according to StatsCan. This means that they can boast that they’re number 1 among big city police departments.
There’s a troubling number missing from the latest report from Statistics Canada on criminal victimization. I went looking for the figure because it was there in the last version of the report, in 2004 – it showed that just 8% of all sexual assaults in 2004 were reported to police, a puny 42,000 assaults reported among the total of 512,000 committed. Expressed another way, less than 1 out of every 10 sexual assaults committed was reported to police. It is a pitiful and shameful statistic, a reflection of the fact that despite decades of progress in dealing with sexual abuse and exploitation, authorities have done little to make the process of reporting abuse and confronting abusers less frightening and intimidating. The vast majority of victims still suffer in silence. Statistics Canada refuses to release the figure for 2009 (more on that after the jump). What if things are getting worse? What if they are getting much worse? I’ve produced a disturbing statistic that suggests, if the number is valid, that far fewer sexual assault victims are reporting to police.
Stockwell Day had it right, according to Statistics Canada. The latest victimization survey, released today, shows that 31% of all crimes were reported to police in the survey period, compared to 34% reporting in the last survey five years ago. Day cited the increase in “unreported crime,” as he called it, as a factor in the Tory plans to build more prisons. The survey also found that the level of victimization reported by Canadians remained unchanged, at about 27%. The majority of crimes are non-violent. More later on this story.